U.S. Player Ratings: U.S. 2, Ghana 1

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By JACK HAZZARD

US logoIt was a solid performance by the United States men’s national team against Ghana on Saturday in East Hartford, Conn., as it prepares for the start of the CONCACAF Gold Cup next weekend.

Coach Bruce Arena‘s squad played a quality 90 minutes that saw them grab a 2-1 win on goals by Dom Dwyer and Kellyn Acosta. Arena’s 23-man squad for the Gold Cup will perhaps yield one or two players for the final round of World Cup qualifying. Beyond that (looking ahead to Russia, should the U.S. qualify) there are certain to be some surprises as Arena grapples with selecting veterans over younger players.

What follows is our ratings of the performance of U.S. players::

Goalkeeper

Brad Guzan is slowly making his case with the U.S. team after being idle most of the season in England. The former first choice goalkeeper put in a good performance, conceding one goal, which was a hard to reach free kick, and being in the right place on a rather weak penalty kick, which he stopped. Grade: B

Defenders

Graham Zusi continues to fill the right back position when DeAndre Yedlin is not around. Having also made the switch to right back with Sporting KC, Zusi looked fluid in the back and dangerous going forward alongside his Kansas City teammate Matt BeslerGrade: B+

Matt Besler continues to reprise his role as a reserve center back. He put together a quality performance. Grade: B

Matt Hedges is battling for a regular place on the national team, and this performance certainly helped. A emerging favorite of Coach Arena, Hedges was strong aerial duals, tackled impressively and provided leadership on the back line. Grade: B+

Jorge Villafaña was inconsistent throughout 90. It is as if he switches on and off throughout the game. Either he doesn’t join the attack when he needs to or he loses track of his opponent on a free kick. Though he played a part in the first U.S. goal, Villafaña has a way to go to before he secures a regular spot. Grade: C+

Midfielders

Kelyn Rowe made a strong case for himself.  The wide midfielder showed patience and a perfect touch that led to multiple chances. Grade: B

Kellyn Acosta was the man behind every free kick for the United States. He tested Ghana’s keeper throughout the 90 and brilliantly knocked one past the shot blocker in the second half. Grade: A-

Dax McCarty‘s play in the midfield led to multiple chances in the first half. His link-up with Joe Corona led to multiple opportunities for Dom Dwyer Grade: B

Paul Arriola had  a quiet game. Typically on the right side, Arriola was placed on the left by Arena. This position change made him look uncomfortable. Grade: C+

Joe Corona has been in and out of the U.S. team for years, but his performance against Ghana could change that. His vision and link-up play with McCarty and Dwyer were critical. Grade: A-

Forward

Dom Dwyer couldn’t have had a better debut. The Sporting KC striker brought a whole new game to the national team. He was scrappy and kept Ghana’s back line under pressure. Grade: A

Substitutes

Gyasi Zardes has been out of the national team since his injury last year. The Los Angeles Galaxy forward is attempting to make his way back into the mix. Grade: C

Kenny Saief, much like Dwyer, made his debut for the United States after switching association. He was given a few minutes in the second half and provided energy off the bench. Grade: B

Alejandro Bedoya came on late in the second half and did little to impress. It’s beginning to look as if his time with the national team is coming to an end. Grade: C-

Jordan Morris has seen his role diminish over the last couple of national team games. He took advantage of his chance in the second half by showing his new and improved left foot, something that seemed non-existent in the past. Grade: B-

Coach

Bruce Arena tried Corona in the center forward role while switching Arriola from the right side to the left. Ghana didn’t prove to be much of a challenge, but Arena’s squad handled itself well. The Gold Cup will provide the necessary experimental environment, for now. Beyond the Gold Cup and the four final games of qualifying, Arena will then have to sort through his rosters looking ahead to Russia, assuming the U.S. qualifies. Does he take two mid-30s guys in Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey? Will youth be served? It is a puzzle with many moving pieces, but that’s what he gets paid for. Grade: B