That’s More Like It: USMNT Player Ratings After Comfortable Win Over Jamaica

The U.S. beat Jamaica 2-0 in World Cup qualifying thanks to two more goals from Ricardo Pepi.

On the 20th anniversary of beating Jamaica to clinch a spot at the 2002 World Cup, the USMNT comfortably beat Jamaica 2-0 in a 2022 World Cup qualifier on Wednesday. It was the first time the USMNT had ever played a World Cup qualifier in Texas, and it was one to remember for striker Ricardo Pepi, who netted both goals in his home state. It was Pepi who topped our USMNT player ratings vs. Jamaica. 

After a rocky start to qualifying, including two draws in the first two matches, the U.S. appears back on track. Though it was always expected to win this game, the USMNT did so with a surprising amount of ease, putting Jamaica on the back foot from the opening minute. 

While it was a depleted Jamaica squad, the 2-0 win will give the young Americans confidence heading into a tough road game against Panama on Sunday, with a showdown against Costa Rica to follow on Wednesday. 

The match could have been far different had there been VAR to correctly hand Jamaica a pair of red cards, but the U.S. will take the three points, at least briefly going to the top of the qualifying table. 

On to the USMNT player ratings against Jamaica. 

USMNT Player Ratings vs. Jamaica

Starters

Matt Turner, GK: 6/10

Matt Turner didn’t have a ton to do on Thursday night, but he did come up with a nice diving save in the first half to keep the match scoreless. Fautless, if not spectacular in his distribution.

Sergiño Dest, RB: 8/10

This was the Sergiño Dest fans want to see. The Barcelona fullback was lively going forward and supplied the assist for the all-important opener with a nice chip to Ricardo Pepi. At times Dest looked like he wanted to — and was capable of — dribbling through the entire Jamaica defense.

Just as vitally, Dest wasn’t a liability defensively. He did his defensive duties well, rare though they were. U.S. fans will hope his late injury wasn’t serious and he was only taken out as a precaution. 

Walker Zimmerman, CB: 9/10

Not even in the initial squad, Walker Zimmerman was superb. While he doesn’t have the same composure on the ball as John Brooks, who he replaced, the Nashville center back showed he can pass nearly as well as Brooks and was always there to mop up defensively when needed. 

Miles Robinson, CB: 6/10

After a superb Gold Cup and September qualifying window, Miles Robinson was probably one of the first names on the team sheet on Wednesday. While not as much of a towering presence — in part because the ball didn’t come his way often — the Atlanta United man was solid enough to record the clean sheet. 

Antonee Robinson, LB: 5/10

Antonee Robinson got forward well, though he lacked in end product. His energy on the flanks helped both pin Jamaica’s attackers back and halted any potential counterattacks. 

Weston McKennie, CM: 6.5/10

Kicked off the team in September for breaking Covid protocols, it was clear Weston McKennie wanted to make something happen on Thursday. In the first half, he was energetic — playful, even — and it seemed like only a matter of time before he scored or created a goal.

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A goal involvement never came and McKennie faded from the match in the second half, but it was still a good return to the team, going the full 90 minutes.

Tyler Adams, CM: 7.5/10

As always, Tyler Adams was the rock in midfield. Always there as an outlet or to put out fires, Adams wasn’t called upon to do too much, but he was the calm in midfield that allowed everyone else around him to zip forward in attack.

Yunus Musah, CM: 6/10

In his first World Cup qualifier, Yunus Musah battled well. While not super successful when attempting to drive forward with the ball, he rarely made the wrong play and like Adams allowed those around him to create the offense. 

Paul Arriola, RW: 8.5/10

While a lot of USMNT fans groan when they see Paul Arriola on the team sheet, the D.C. United winger always brings high energy to the team and Thursday was no different. 

Arriola was all over the pitch, popping up on both wings and terrorizing the Jamaican fullbacks. He should’ve gotten Kemar Lawrence sent off in the first minute but for a rookie referee too scared to make the right call, but he was lively throughout the full 90 minutes.

Brenden Aaronson, LW: 9/10

Like Arriola, Aaronson was all over the pitch, creating offense wherever he found space. Also like Arriola, he should have drawn a red card, this one on Damion Lowe when he was taken down driving into the box, but the referee was again too timid to pull out his red card. 

Aaronson supplied a scrumptious cross for Pepi’s second goal and then came off six minutes later, Berhalter likely resting him ahead of the Panama match on Sunday. With Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic out injured, Aaronson is hugely important to the USMNT’s offense this window, and he showed Thursday he’s more than up to the challenge.

Ricardo Pepi, ST: 10/10

Against Honduras last month, Ricardo Pepi was not good in the first half. Then he played a key role in all four second-half goals. The story was much the same on Thursday, earning him yet another top rating

Pepi was pretty invisible in the first half, at least after playing the pass to spring Arriola for the first should’ve-been red card. But he sprung to life in the second half, excellently nodding in Dest’s cross to open the scoring in the 49th minute. 

The 18-year-old then made no mistake when Aaronson’s cross found him in the 62nd minute. 

All aboard El Tren. Pepi now has three goals in his first two USMNT appearances. Honestly, I wish he’d have been given a chance to go for a hat trick in his home state, but Gregg Berhalter subbed him out in the 68th minute, perhaps to rest him with two more qualifiers coming up this week. 

Subs

Gyasi Zardes, ST: 3/10

Zardes had a few good chances to score in his 22 minutes on the pitch but was unable to convert. Given Pepi’s performance, it’s likely Zardes will continue to come off the bench for the USMNT. 

Tim Weah, LW: 8/10

Although the wingers who started were excellent, Weah made a case to start against Panama with a lively 22 minutes. He created multiple opportunities for Zardes and danced around the tired Jamaican defenders with ease.

Given Arriola went the full 90 on Thursday, I’d be surprised if Weah doesn’t start at least one of the upcoming qualifiers. 

Shaq Moore, RB: n/a

Shaq Moore’s biggest contribution was giving Dest a rest after the Barcelona man appeared to pick up a knock late. Moore got forward well a time or two and looks like a solid backup option, though he’s likely not overtaking Robinson or Dest as a starter. 

Luca de la Torre, CM: n/a

Tweeting his highlight video earned him a USMNT call-up, so 10/10 social media skills. He also some nice through balls into the box, showing in limited action what he brings to the team driving the ball forward. He may have committed a penalty late, but the referee decided he’d ignore it knowing how he screwed over the Americans earlier in the match. 

Kellyn Acosta, CM: n/a

Back in his home state, Kellyn Acosta spelled Adams late. He did alright with just about 10 minutes of play. 

Coach

Gregg Berhalter: 8.5/10

It’s hard to fault a coach who gets a 2-0 win in World Cup qualifying. Though he’d have liked an earlier goal, the U.S. always felt in control, especially after Pepi opened the scoring early in the second half. 

Berhalter put his trust back into McKennie and it paid off. He risked a Dest-Musah-Arriola right side of the field and it paid off. The USMNT’s tactics kept Jamaica from ever really having consistent pressure, with the Reggae Boyz relying on long balls for their limited chances. 

Bonus Ratings

Reon Radix, Referee: 0/10

I mean c’mon. One missed red is bad enough, but two? 

Concacaf: 0/10

How in the hecks are we gonna allow massive World Cup qualifiers to be played without VAR? 

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