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USA 2, Honduras 0: A look back

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It didn't start out as the prettiest game, and for long stretches the USA-Honduras match looked capable of being an upset loss for the Americans, but a strong defense and a pair of dangerous substitutes turned last night's Gold Cup match in the U.S. national team's favor.

Charlie Davies and Benny Feilhaber looked every bit like a confident duo enjoying the afterglow of the Confederations Cup, breaking down Honduras' back-line with speed, movement and vision, all things lacking for the American attack before their inclusion.

Honduras had its chances to break through and take the game over, but the U.S. back-line, led by the imposing presence of Chad Marshall and the veteran savvy of Steve Cherundolo, never cracked.

Credit to Bob Bradley, for letting his starting lineup be tested in the second half before inserting Feilhaber and Davies, who changed the game and sparked the late rally.

So how did all the U.S. players do last night? Here are the U.S. player grades for last night's match:

Troy Perkins (6)– Posted the shutout and made a couple of good saves, but his distribution was terrible and is clearly something he needs to work on.

Chad Marshall (8)– Won every battle he engaged in and neutralized Carlos Costly when the dangerous Honduran moved up top looking for a goal. His Gold Cup to date has to move him into the fourth spot on the U.S. centerback depth chart.

Michael Parkhurst (7)– Used his deceptive speed and ability to read the game to thwart several Honduran attacks.

Heath Pearce (6.5) – An improved performance from the struggling fullback. The Gold Cup should definitely help his confidence, which has taken a beating this year.

Steve Cherundolo (7) – Challenged repeatedly, Cherundolo was up to the task each time, and his forays into the attack finally bore fruit with his cross on Ching's goal.

Logan Pause (4) – Looked overwhelmed by the speed of play at times and was far too tentative. Didn't do nearly as well as he did on Saturday in what may be his last start of the tournament.

Kyle Beckerman (7) – Was very confident all match long and delivered countless quality passes. Perhaps was too confident at times, which led to some bad turnovers. Overall, his work rate in midfield was impresive.

Santino Quaranta (7.5) – An inspired performance, it was actually his defensive work that stood out before his well-taken goal.

Robbie Rogers (6.5) – Was the team's most dangerous player in the first half, but lack of movement in the attack left him double-teamed and with few passing options. He forced things in the second half and was far less effective. Still a good overally performance.

Freddy Adu (4.5) – Committed far too many turnovers, but he did put himself in good positions repeatedly. Unfortunately, he couldn't do anything with that, missing a pair of wide-open headers and failing to have much of a positive impact aside from a nice back-heel pass to Rogers on one sequence.

Brian Ching (6) – Not a great game at all before the two U.S. goals. He looked rusty and disappeared for stretches, which should have been expected after having been sideline in recent weeks. Once Davies and Feilhaber came into the match, the subs played to Ching's strengths, which led to a strong finish from the veteran striker.

Benny Feilhaber (7.5) – Was pure class from the moment he took the field. His vision and touch was too much for Honduras to handle and inspired the U.S. attack.

Charlie Davies (7.5) – His speed created space and he capitalized on that with some very good passes. His confidence is sky high and he is developing into a complete forward.

Kenny Cooper (6) – Showed some flashes in limited action and should get a longer look vs. Haiti.


What did you think of last night's performance? What do you think of these grades? Who would you like to see play against Haiti?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. bornstein, feilhaber, torres, cooper, casey, holden, castillo, edu, rogers, pearce, conrad, beckerman, wynne, ejohnson, simek, whitbread, szetela, kljestan, mastroeni, beaseley, convey, quaranta, orozco.


    Just to elaborate:

    quaranta, szetela, holden, rogers, beckerman and orozco haven’t played much for the USMNT but theoretically have some promise. There is still a little time and, with the exception of szetela, all look likely to get plenty of playing time for their clubs. You can’t say the same for Freddy.

    We do not know what the final composition (number of defenders, midfielders and attackers) Bradley will decide on, so Adu is not competing just with attacking players.

    EJ, Beasley, and even the much maligned Sasha, all look out of form right now but at least they have had great games for the USMNT in the past and you cannot say that about Freddy.

    Everyone hates Casey but he has 8 MSL league goals this season, one more than the beloved Kenny Cooper, the USMNT’s equivalent of the backup QB and everyone’s darling. This is 7 fewer goals than Freddy has scored in league play over his entire professional (including the MSL) career.

    In other words, I would not underestimate the difficulty of the task Freddy faces if he wishes to be on the 2010 WC roster. I would think that 2014 is a more realistic goal when Freddy would, in theory, be a more developed player.

  2. “jimmygreaves,

    I don’t completely disagree with everything you say, but your supplemental list of 23 is way overboard. Some of those guys can’t hold Freddie’s jock. Keep in mind that you could have substituted (and many did) Benny Feilhaber into your rant for Adu a few months ago. The bottom line is that you stay patient and give lots of extra chances to guys who have talent. Freddie and Benny both have better ball skills than just about anyone else in the usmnt pool. Bob did an unbelievable job of keeping Benny in touch with the team when he was down and he’s doing the same thing with Freddie.

    Posted by: Yossarian | July 09, 2009 at 05:44 PM”



    The point of the 23 extra players is that space on the USMNT roster for South Africa is getting very hard to find for those 5 or so players not already assured of a spot.

    I get your point about Benny but he at least had a couple of great games for the US when it counted and then went bad for any number of reasons.

    Freddy has never had such a run; in a sense you are comparing a has-been who came back to a never-was who still has to prove, at this level, that he can be great.

  3. Why doesn’t Heaps ever get a shot? He is athletic as all get out and plays for one of the 2 most tchnically estute managers in MLS who plays him every minute of every game and thinks the world of him. I am no Revolution fan- actually I don’t have a club in MLS, but I have all the respect in the world for Houston and N.E. and especially their managers.

  4. Freddy Adu (4.5) – Committed far too many turnovers, but he did put himself in good positions repeatedly. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do anything with that, missing a pair of wide-open headers and failing to have much of a positive impact aside from a nice back-heel pass to Rogers on one sequence.

    Bye Bye -Freddy -may you improve your work rate and balance this year while being loaned out by Benfica to Austria or where ever you end up.

    See you when you are 22-23 and a man and are ready to be reevaluated for what you can become. You need elbow grease to go along with those lovely yet pointless step over’s.

    And sincerely- I am sorry you were blown out of proportion at 14 and had unfair and unrealistic expectations thrust upon you. It was unfair to you and in a sad way you have been paying ever since. You look like a lad whose confidence is completely shot and yet you don’t put in the hard work in the game that would help us all overlook that.

    WORK HARD, HUSTLE AND STAY ON YOUR FEET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Quaranta looked very poor the first 65 minutes as did much of the USA team. Bradley’s changes, Quaranta, Ching, Parkhurst, were very underwhelming. Feilhaber and Davies gave a little lift to a drab affair, and they joined Marshall and Perkins as the only 4 quality players on the pitch, of either side. The FSC color commentator called just about every Honduran player ‘great’. You might want to turn the sound off.

  6. Even if Beckerman was ‘a beast’ and everyone was scared of the ‘white Rastafarian’ he gave up far too many balls. He has no understanding of the speed of the international game. He sits and sits on that ball, has no ability to get it out from under feet. If Beckerman were to learn that ‘defensive mid’ means don’t sit on the ball he might be alright. Until he learns that, or learns how to dribble the ball, he should not be on any US squad.

  7. CleartheBall’s right. It wasn’t a botched header. It went off the defender and over the keeper’s shoulder instead of low, where Ching was trying to go. Not a beautiful goal, but not ugly either.

  8. Yossarian,
    I agree patience is needed with young players but don’t agree completely with your analogy to Feilhaber. Feilhaber has been injured, Adu has just been bad. I’m not ready to give up completely on Adu, but I’d be more optimistic if he were coming back into form off of injury. Unfortunately, Adu seems to get worse with each performance.

  9. Re: Ching’s goal. I am not a Ching supporter. However, after watching his goal from every angle I could find, I think he was on frame going low corner. It deflected off the defender and went high. Based on the pace, I think it was a goal either way. There was no handball or own goal. I actually thought it was a better header than Holden’s and I am a Holden supporter.

  10. jimmygreaves,

    I don’t completely disagree with everything you say, but your supplemental list of 23 is way overboard. Some of those guys can’t hold Freddie’s jock. Keep in mind that you could have substituted (and many did) Benny Feilhaber into your rant for Adu a few months ago. The bottom line is that you stay patient and give lots of extra chances to guys who have talent. Freddie and Benny both have better ball skills than just about anyone else in the usmnt pool. Bob did an unbelievable job of keeping Benny in touch with the team when he was down and he’s doing the same thing with Freddie.

  11. TomR, Rogers was only double and triple teamed because he dribbled in a straight line and there was no danger in having a center back commit over. By my recollection, he had numerous poor or deflected crosses. On the bright side, he only dribbled straight out of bounds twice, which is twice as good as he was doing in the Olympics.

    He did connect very well with others when he wasn’t barreling into the corner, a real improvement over last summer. He also worked very hard on D, which is also good.

    He’s gotten better in the last year but he still has a long way to go.

  12. “I was really hoping that the Gold Cup would be the stage for Adu to show US Soccer fans that he has matured as a professional. I was disappointed that he did not see any playing time in the Confed Cup but clearly that may be explained by what we saw last night. At this point, Adu has got to be on the outer fringes of making the US roster for the World Cup. Ives, what is your take on what is really going on with Adu?”

    Its actually pretty simple the Kid’s lack of playing time has now caught up… and he is rusty and lacks the confidence to crack that rust if he wanted to in a short notice……..Now we have seen the best of Adu when he is in-form(his play at Benfica and his outstanding play in the 3 2008 super-friendlies) and now the worst of Adu where he is in terrible form………but with that siad i pray Adu goes to a small club to play everyday and gest his top-form and confidence back and he will be back in the US “A” Line-Up(Super-sub) qucikly. Just look at benny as the perfect example. One month of regular club play has shaken off one full year and a half of crap form and disappearence into histop form form 2007…………this is what Adu needs and its called Club time/games daily.

  13. Smoke, I thought it looked dubious, and I never saw a clear shot of what did/didn’t happen, but I appreciate his effort and positioning and have no problem with giving him the benefit.

  14. I’ve watched Ching’s goal replay at least five times, from all sorts of angles and in slow mo. It’s amazing to me that we can all watch the same thing and come up with completely different opinions of it. I am a Ching supporter. Period. I have to be. I’m from Hawaii, and my sons play for the last local club he played for. So forgive my homerish-ness, but on one angle they showed on a replay that was broadcast about 7 or 8 minutes after he scored, it looks like he got his head on it cleanly. The other angles, it’s definitely NOT clear how it got the cross got redirected into the goal.

    I admit that. But why the assumption that it was a botched header, or an own goal? Why can’t you give him the benefit of the doubt? He was in the right place, at the right time, the cross was perfect and the ball went in the goal.

  15. Here’s hoping Feilhaber, Davies , and Gooch get the needed/deserved playing time this year.

    “I was sure Ives was going to say that ching’s “goal” was a sublime finish

    Posted by: T | July 09, 2009 at 12:10 PM”

    that’s a good one – it kills me that Ching’s finish consisted of “heading” the ball off his shoulder, back, neck, arse, and elbow. brilliant.

  16. I would have rated Robbie Rogers higher. He clearly kept the team in the game first half almost singlehandedly. Second 45 he was double and tripled teamed and pounded to the grass but still was dangerous, connected well with his team mates and most important played excellant defense to help preserve the lead. I would have rated him a 7.5.

    I would rest him and Beckerman for the Haiti game so they can come out firing in the quarters.

  17. harry and the rabid Adu fan club,

    I have argued the case against Adu not because I think he isn’t a good prospect but rather because I believe the USMNT has shown they are a team who get results based on group effort not on the efforts of individual stars. They must be greater than the sum of their parts. In plain English, they don’t beat the good teams unless everyone plays together and has a good to great day. Team depth and flexibility are therefore the keys to this style of play and that is what seems to be emerging in the last year or so.

    It seems as if you guys care more about Adu than the USMNT. Obviously, based on what we have seen in the Gold Cup, Bradley actually knew enough (not too bad for an idiot huh?) to know Freddy probably wasn’t going to do real well in the Confed Cup games. So he did what a good coach would do which is put Freddy in a spot where he can succeed. We saw how that turned out though I’m sure you will find a way to blame Bradley because he wasn’t as good as the hype said he would be. You seem to think the US is nothing without Freddy yet this recent run may be the best run they have had in recent memory. The USMNT now seem to have brighter prospects than ever before. And they did it without any significant participation from Freddy Adu.

    With a year to go it is hard to predict who will get injured, lose form or suddenly get really hot at their club. Nevertheless, based on this past year, and assuming they take 3 goal keepers (the identity of the third keeper is irrelevant at this point), here are 18 players who are pretty solid bets to make the WC 2010 roster:

    howard, guzan, (unknown),

    gooch, demerit, boca, spector, dolo, hedjuk, marshall,

    donovan, dempsey, bradley, clark, jones,

    altidore, davies, ching,

    Assuming a 23 man roster, here are 23 more players, not including Freddy, to fight over the last 5 spots:

    bornstein, feilhaber, torres, cooper, casey, holden, castillo, edu, rogers, pearce, conrad, beckerman, wynne, ejohnson, simek, whitbread, szetela, kljestan, mastroeni, beaseley, convey, quaranta,orozco.

    Who does Adu beat out in this scenario? He is only 20 and has a great shot at future success but, I don’t see how Bradley (who obviously thinks highly of Freddy’s skills) can afford to spend any more time on Adu for this WC cycle. One more thing about Freddy; he hasn’t played regularly since his time at DC United. That is three wasted years when, not only was he losing physical sharpness, but he could have been developing his “football IQ”. It takes a lot more than skill to become a great player and Adu has lost a lot of time during his formative years when he could have been figuring that out. Best of luck to him, but I can’t see him making up for that between now and the start of the 2010 World Cup.

  18. Mike, Adu had some very good free kicks, worked more on defense than I have seen him do in some time. His headers didn’t go in, but at least he was able to actually use his head (unlike Ching’s shoulder/Honduran OG) If Freddy is being counted on to put headers away then we are in bad shape already. Obviously everyone has a differing opinions and I don’t think he deserves a 7, but feel that a 5-5.5(max) is a better rating for him in this game.

  19. The defense looked fairly solid considering they’ve never played together before. Marshall has serious potential if he can separate himself from the MLS-play mentality. Perkins did great on the Honduras free kick toward the end. Hopefully Benny can draw some confidence from his play and become even more of a midfield threat.

  20. Not sure if this has been mentioned, but I would challenge the characterization of Ching’s finish as “strong”. Looked pretty clearly like it was a botched header that ricochetted off his defender’s back and flew into goal. Decent work on the first goal from Ching, but otherwise I thought his performance, particularly in the first half was atrocious.

  21. Feilhaber would be my choice for man of the match. When he came in the game changed. Watch the buildup for that first goal. His free kick decision to find Cherundolo is also an underrated play. I would like to see Feilhaber start, especially in more meaningful matches like next year’s WC. His quality is outstanding.

  22. Wasn’t it announced before the tournament that Busch was staying in Chicago, unless needed?

    Is he even with the team?

    A result is a result, and I thought the game had its moments, and was, for the most part, enjoyable.

    I hope that the Haiti game provides minutes for those we haven’t seen yet… Cronin, Clark, Heaps, Robles, Cooper, Conrad.

    I’m sure these guys have worked hard, and I’d like to see them rewarded for the effort.

  23. Adu is just preoccupied with his immediate future…give the man a break. He can shoot better than most US players and normally figures into scoring one way or another.

    Let us see him in 6 months when his prospects in Europe are not so uncertain.

  24. Beckerman – I like that he has very good field vision, can get his head up under pressure, make a quick decision, and pass accurately. What stands out, though, is that he needs a lot more exposure to the speed of the international game. His passes are too weak and often get picked off.

    Davies – does that guy have speed! The Telefutura feed missed a lot of his run at the goalkeeper, but the rate at which he closed down that gap was incredible!

    Adu – aside from the fancy foot skills and a pretty lethal shot, he strikes me as a soft player. Gets knocked off the ball too easily and dribbles into trouble too often. Donovan also had those weaknesses in his early years, but made up for them with speed and work rate, which so far Freddy hasn’t shown he can match.

  25. Beckerman is definitely rated too high. His decision making hasn’t been great, his first touch lets him down often, and he seemed to be trying to match Honduras’ style of play: frantic and unintelligent. Why such a rush to play long aerial balls directly down the field I don’t see Beckerman having even the slightest shot at making the squad next year, and his lack of composure and poise as a central midfielder raises some questions about what finished products Bradenton is turning out

  26. OK, I’m a bit of a homer (Rapids fan) but I don’t understand why Colin Clark wasn’t on the bench?

    would have been nice to see what his pace and ball skills could have accomplished when Rogers fell off a bit in the second half.

  27. I don’t have much of an issue with these player ratings, I think they’re more than fair.

    As for the issue with Freddy, I read a comment earlier about his play while he was with Benfica vs. his play while with Monaco. I’m going to paraphrase (read: steal) these thoughts because I agree with them.

    When Freddy was with Benfica he seemed to be quicker with the ball, moving the ball around from side to side and able to send in solid through passes on a when given the chance to play. Since his loan to Monaco, it almost seems as if he has regressed in that department. I think a lot of it has to do with confidence.

    I don’t buy into the “Freddy is reading his own hype” logic anymore. What hype is there? If anything the majority of what is being written right now is basically saying he’s not going to become the player everyone thought/hoped he would. What I want from him is to go bust his ass at Benfica and become a regular contributor on the team because while he was with them, that was the best i’ve seen him play.

    I’m no Adu apologist, but rather a fan of the National Team and I see sparks of creativity from him that seperate him from the other players in our pool. It may not be his time in 2010 but I don’t think his whole story has been written just yet. Just go back and train your ass off and make yourself valuable to USMNT.

  28. Ives – I’m not seeing your point about Perkins distribution. He was as controlled distributing the ball from his hands as Howard/Keller. He is not nearly as comfortable with ball at his feet as Howard, although there were no blunders that would support the assertion that his distribution was terrible.

    If anything, I’d say his positioning on free kicks is suspect. He was well off his line on free kicks ~25 yds from goal and that leaves him vulnerable.


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