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Gyasi Zardes Starts World Cup Qualifying

Though Zardes struggled on the night, his second half showed more confidence and better play, hopefully good news for Tuesday's game against Trinidad & Tobago.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The United States men's national team did their job against St. Vincent and the Grenadines winning 6-1 on the night.  Despite the scoreline, it wasn't the most assured of performances in the run of play, with Gyasi Zardes being one of the players that did not have the best of games.

Gyasi lined up in midfield, a role he's now very familiar with due to his play in LA, and a role he will likely inhabit with the USMNT as Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood continue to play up top.

His night started on a botched defensive play with Geoff Cameron and DeAndre Yedlin leading directly to an opponent goal.  Cameron being casual on a clearance, Yedlin backtracking and leaving Oalex Anderson exposed, and Zardes late to cover Anderson, all contributed to St. Vincent and the Grenadines starting with a surprising goal and lead.

On the offensive end, Zardes was one of three players with the worst passing on the night:  Altidore, Bradley and Zardes all had double digits in unsuccessful passes.  Bradley is somewhat excused as he tried several long balls from midfield.  Gyasi's unsuccessful passes are mostly in tight quarters - not longer passes - meaning he was trying to retain possession under pressure.  His touch let him down several times over the course of the evening.  Lead feet in the first half as the majority of his bad passes/crosses were in the first 45 minutes (7 out of 12).  However, in the 2nd half he was much better at retaining the ball.  Part of this is due to the opponent's tired legs.  They were out of gas, and pressure was less intense.  The bad touches in the first half are a bit of a head scratcher because Gyasi was excellent in this same type of situation against Seattle during the playoff elimination game two weeks ago.

First half also had two chances from the right that Gyasi should have buried.  Two shanked balls that went wide left that could have been goals.  Ironically, Gyasi's well taken goal in the 2nd half is virtually from the same spot as the two misses, but he's running onto the ball for the goal, rather than standing and trying to take a hurried shot.  Gyasi has always been better at power and shoot, rather than precision.

His goal and additional on target shot also came in the second half.  No key passes or assists, one foul won.  He could have shook off the jitters and settled into the game after 45 minutes, or maybe he needed the halftime talk, but he was better in the second 45.

On the defensive side other than the botched goal, Gyasi won two tackles, but also lost two.  He had 1 clearance, and 4 recoveries.  Not much defending to be done in this game though, so frankly, this was pretty much about the bare minimum to contribute.

Due to the nature of the opponent it's safe to say that more is expected of Gyasi Zardes, especially on the heels of a MOTM performance against Seattle.  No it's not his preferred position at midfield, but he has played it for many games now in LA, and with the national team, and he should be able to best a competitor the likes of a small island nation.  The second half was a step in that direction.

Because of the lack of options on the wing, Gyasi should once again see time on Tuesday against Trinidad & Tobago.  Ideally he improves and uses his second half today as a confidence booster.