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USA 2, Antigua & Barbuda 1: The SBI Player Grades

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On a night when the U.S. Men’s National Team rode some late-game heroics to a valuable three points, the number of American players who stood out was considerably shorter than the number of Americans who struggled. Facing an underdog Antigua & Barbuda side in awful playing conditions, the U.S. rode the standout efforts of a select few to eke out a sorely-needed win.

Eddie Johnson was the star of the show on Friday, scoring two goals in his first national team action in two years. While he was enjoying a memorable return, Alan Gordon was busy turning in an outstanding national team debut, registering an assist in his first national team match.

There weren’t all positives on Friday night. Several players struggled, some in uncharacteristic fashion. Both Clint Dempsey and Herculez Gomez disappointed, while Jermaine Jones just looked lost after coming on as a second-half sub.

Here is a closer look at how all the Americans fared on Friday night, courtesy of the SBI Player Grade (ratings consisting of the average of the match grades of SBI editor-in-chief Ives Galarcep and senior writer Franco Panizo):


TIM HOWARD (6). It wasn’t an extremely busy night for him, but he made some extremely vital stops, particularly in the second half when Antigua & Barbuda had thoughts of an upset in mind. He couldn’t be blamed for the Antigua & Barbuda goal. (IG)

STEVE CHERUNDOLO (7). The best U.S. defender on the night, Cherundolo locked down his side of the field and also found time to help out the centerbacks as they struggled with their footing. (IG)

CLARENCE GOODSON (5). Strong in the air as usual, but when he wasn’t busy trying to cope with the speed of Peter Byers and Dexter Blackstock, he was trying to find ways not to slip on the bumpy terrain at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. Was pushed off the ball too easily on the goal the U.S. let up. (FP)

GEOFF CAMERON (5). His passing was not as pinpoint as usual due to the conditions and narrow field, and like Goodson, struggled to handle the pace of the Antigua & Barbuda strikers. His poor marking on Byers on the goal-scoring play was his worst moment of the night. (FP)

CARLOS BOCANEGRA (5). Returned to a familiar left back role and looked a step slow on the wing. He also committed the costly turnover that ultimately led to Antigua & Barbuda’s goal. (IG)

DANNY WILLIAMS (5) Struggled to make an impact on the game, especially as it wore on. He did not have much to deal with defensively, but like most of his teammates, he struggled offensively before being replaced in the second half. (FP)

MICHAEL BRADLEY (7). On a night when completing passes and keeping the ball was made nearly impossible by the narrow field and muddy pitch, Bradley still found a way to get more of the ball than any of his teammates, as well as connect more passes. (IG)

GRAHAM ZUSI (6). Was active at the start of the game and delivered the type of precise crosses that Klinsmann surely wanted but did not get much of in Antigua. He faded in the second half before coming off, but his inch-perfect ball set up Johnson for the Americans’ first goal. (FP)

CLINT DEMPSEY (5). A disappointing night for the player expected to lead the attack. He was uncharacteristically quiet and never found a rhythm in the game. Had one nice layoff pass that set up a good Bradley shot but was otherwise non-existent in the attack. (IG)

HERCULEZ GOMEZ (4.5). Might have been his worst night as a national team starter. Was his usual active self, moving around constantly trying to find spots to be a threat, but  bad touches let him down on two key chances in the penalty area. Never put one chance on goal. (IG)

EDDIE JOHNSON (8). A dream night for the Sounders forward. Showed his aerial prowess on his first goal, and his hustle to get open for his second goal. He also did a good job of taking defenders on from the left flank, though he often followed up a successful move with a bad pass. Expect another start on Tuesday. (IG)

ALAN GORDON (6). No stranger to late-game heroics at the club level, Gordon delivered a beautifully-lofted cross to Johnson for the clutch winner in the 90th minute, saving the U.S. from what would have been an embarrassing result. That the assist came in his first international cap was even more impressive. (FP)

JERMAINE JONES (4.5).  The worst of the three substitutions Klinsmann made, Jones was inserted into Williams’ No. 6 role but never really found the game. He received a yellow card early into his cameo, which rules him out for the clash against Guatemala, for a silly foul. Did have a pair of divine interventions to halt Antigua attacks, though. (FP)

SACHA KLJESTAN (6). The RSC Anderlecht midfielder surely would have hoped for better conditions in his first U.S. game in eight months, but he nonetheless provided a spark off the bench. Kljestan had a dipping shot nearly go past Molvin James, and it was his pass to Gordon that helped create Johnson’s winner at the death. (FP)


What do you think of the grades? Who would you have given higher marks to? Who should have been graded more harshly?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. EJ scored two tremendous goals and looked somewhat troubling to defenders a few times, but he also had a number of terrible touches and bad giveaways. IMO its tough to rate a performance like that.

    I’d say I’m thankful he delivered and deserves praise for that, but I’d hardly look at that performance and think he could bring the same overall quality of game and expect success in future matches against better sides. I think its naive and oversimplified to look at what EJ did and say he’s put himself ahead of Jozy in the pecking order, assuming you’re comparing them heads up. I’m hoping EJ can continue to be productive and limit some of those mistakes.

  2. I don’t understand all the criticisim leveled at Dempsey. He can’t be left off the field, imo. He can strike at any time and also draws defenders to create spaces for our team.

  3. Big breath.
    I’m looking forward to the game vs Guatemala.
    You know the USMNT will want to make up for that game at home.
    We are going to destroy the Chapines.

  4. i wish people would just get over this bs. we are never ever going to play a quality game away from home on a field like that against inferior opposition. we got 3 points. on to the next game.

  5. Having watched all of the WCQ it appears that the players are
    A still adjusting to a new manager and his program
    B do not buy into the new program
    C are not being given a defined player roles and an overall team tactic
    I am beginning to think that Phillip Lahm might be right about K. Also Velasquez and Hertzog don’t appear to be master tactician’s. The overall team play is awful. Only one good half which was against Jamaica at home and we didn’t score is not successful

  6. I agree with all the ratings, and I’ll ad one – I give Coach Klinsmann a 6.

    Our team played well. We just have to face the fact that we are terrible on the road in intense weather/field conditions. But any team no matter how good will have problems in ATG weather and playing on a crappy cricket field. So I’m ok with our (lack of) play. We got the 3 points, and we’re off to the next game in KC. Simple as that.

  7. Jeez. What to make from this game/cycle?
    I thought whoever posted that Bradley was in Williams’s space had a great point. Bradley look composed and world class…but who was in Bradley’s empty space? Dempsey already has difficulty not tracking back 40 yards to find the game…why vacate that much area? At this point if the left side of our midfield has limited defensive liability why don’t we put Dempsey there? Late runs in, plenty of space….capable of anything…For Tuesday’s game I’d like….
    —– ^—————————–
    ^ ——————–^–
    Deuce——^^———————- Zusi
    ———-The Man——————-
    Deuce and Klejstan would be free to switch. I'd like to see Corona in Klejstan's spot but this is no friendly to "see" nor are benny or freddy here.
    Bradley covers dempsey's space letting williams do what he does.
    Hopefully Dolo and Zusi's at home chemistry continues.
    It looks good while drinking.

  8. ————————Johnson——————Donovan———————-





    We need the work horses in our ranks. MLS players are in form right now and every game they keep changing the dynamics of the game……
    Matt Besler is playing CB for SKC and that team has allowed the fewest goals against(26) this season
    Chris Pontius on the left(speed, skill, accuracy) with Brad Davis on the bench as his back up
    Bradley is our attacking midfielder…..the Maestro of the USMNT.
    Williams is our central midfielder
    Donovan up top with Eddie….the service in the attack will be crisp, clean and accurate
    Eddie Johnson is on fire for club and country………Him and Altidore can alternate roles

  9. I thought Kljestan’s play was encouraging. Hopefully he gets a longer look vs Guatemala to see if he’s turned a corner and can be relied upon to bring some attacking quality that I think we lack with the mids JK has been calling in

  10. What has made Dempsey successful in the EPL is certainly a product of talent, but it is maximized by his fight, grit, relentless nature and willingness to do the dirty work. He has always had to take on that role to make the line-up and it has unfailingly paid off once he has. In the USMNT hierarchy, he is in a much different place…. perhaps he’s a victim of reading his press clippings in the states… is no doubt higher up the food chain and as would be the natural tendency, doesn’t feel inclined to do the dirty work. He doesn’t track back on defense and jogs into space and looks for service rather creating turnovers and making aggressive runs. I know it’s hard after the 20th run and no good service, but you have to do it to keep the D accountable. He seems to put on more of the striker prima donna face rather than the hard nosed workman who makes shite happen, whatever it takes. It doesn’t suit his strengths… I’d really like to see the real Deuce stand up. Be who you are brother, it’s pretty top shelf.

    • +10,000
      I LOVED Clint at Fulham. Total blue collar worker with skill on the ball and tons of hard work to get into those positions to be in the “right place at the right time”. Mostly from the left mid(NOT winger) position. Just doesn’t seem motivated with USMNT outside of actual WC. Tries to do too much and usually pays the price with a turnover. Or tries to get calls he’s never gonna get instead of powering through. Sure seems to spend much more time glaring at the refs or his team-mates with USMNT than with club. He is still able to put a bunch of goals in for us because he is such a great finisher. I just hate that he can’t even be considered for a left mid slot for us cause he’s not at all interested in tracking back at this point…

      • Another anti-Dempsey comment section. Crazy that I’m learning he doesn’t hustle or do the dirty work for the USMNT. Oh, he’s also not “motivated”. Tries “to do too much” and “pays the price with a turnover”. Wow, I guess flying from Europe when he could be relaxing with his family doesn’t show how much he wants. Let’s face it, most professionals wouldn’t of even made it to last qualification games after they just completed a transfer to a new club. Not Deuce, he loves his country so much he left for USMNT camp out of shape but still put in 100% effort. IN fact, who scored the only goal at Jamaica?

        Maybe you haters, won’t realize what you have until it’s gone.

  11. I’m happy that Eddie scored two goals, happy that we won, but I don’t understand why these ratings are so high. I would love to see the US play like that in an actual world cup to give everyone perspective. WAKE UP. He scored two goals against Antigua and Barbuda. We barely squeaked out a win against Antigua and Barbuda. Mexico is demolishing teams on a regular basis in qualifying, and we are clinging to 90 minute goals to win. If this leads to pinning our offensive hopes on Johnson and Gordon, then we actually did a lot more damage than good in this game.

    • I’m pretty sure bringing in Johnson and Gordan was more about one game, getting through to the hex and earning the right to have future hopes. JK said as much in interviews prior to the game.

      I highly doubt Gordan has a long term role, but EJ has quite likely earned himself a shot as a role player on the bench.


  12. ———–Johnson—————
    for the next game.
    Johnson needs to be the CF, Dempsey and Gomez will play better in KC. should be the outside forwards.
    Same midfield, also will rebound on the smooth LSP pitch
    F. Johnson and Dolo marking Pappa and Pescadito with Boca and Cameron back in the middle.

  13. ————–Johnson

    Johnson can hold the ball up, and he’s not necessarily strong at taking guys on. He provides the physical presence for Dempsey and others to play off. Zusi, Kljestan and Bradley all have the ability to hit outside shots and balls in to Johnson and Dempsey for headers.

  14. Dempsey is the best USMNT player…plays at the highest level and scores in one of the best leagues in the world but has no chemistry with anyone else on the team with the exception of Donovan…..he is not the “go to guy” to score when the deck is stacked against us….. he doesn’t create chances or make others better around him either……Klinsmann singled out Altidore but as far as Dempsey what does he do? The best player (in attack) on a team is always in the middle of the play that either results in a goal, draws defenders as a result causes the opening for the goal or assists in the goal, something….Dero (canada), Carlos Ruiz(Guatemala), Luton Shelton (Jamaica), Chacharito (Mexico), Rooney, Messi, Falcao, Ronaldo……the best player on the team always looks dangerous, every now and then you get it tough but still have a direct impact on the game. That holds true for every team but the USMNT

    • Dempsey better than Donovan or Bradley?

      At scoring goals with a good team surrounding him… maybe better than Bradley.

      All around? Heck no.

      • We all know whats good. Bradley and Donovan are far better players for the team Hogatroge but on paper Dempsey is currently the best US Player due to his accomplishments What Him or Friedel have achieved in the EPL, one of the highest levels of soccer world wide, no other US player has. Goals scored by an American in the EPL…..Consecutive games played in the EPL etc

      • I’m not usually one to argue semantics, but when you say “best USMNT player” as opposed to “most accomplished member of USMNT outside of USMNT play,” I’m compelled to argue.

        Furthermore, the phrase “on paper” generally has connotations of “should be, but isn’t.”

        Don’t get me wrong… I love Deuce as a fellow Texan, but I am disappointed in his USMNT contributions lately.

        I would say there will come a point when the 1 goal Dempsey scores through individual effort will not counterbalance the multiple goals that could have been scored if there wasn’t a hole in the MF where he is supposed to be… but that time already came in Kingston.

      • What do you mean when you say best player?

        The one with the most talent? The one with the toughest mindset? The one in the best shape who can run all day?

        You may not like semantics but when you are evaluating players you have to define what you are looking for. You have to give criteria. Otherwise it then becomes a “because I say so” discussion.

        Clint does certain things better than others.

        He is the best US player at scoring consistently over a period of time. That does not mean he will always score the goal you really need. It just means he is the most LIKELY person to score that goal.

        EJ was hot and scored those two really vital goals. But since I know you’ve all forgotten I will remind you that in 2009 Conor Casey, who all of you turn your nose up at, scored two goals at Honduras and set up the third in a game that clinched the US’ WC qualifying campaign. I saw that game in a bar full of USMNT supporters and no one, absolutely no one, expected that.

        Where is he now? He didn’t make the US World Cup squad and I bet EJ won’t either, should we get there. I will qualify that by saying he won’t make it if the choice is between him and Jozy. Only a fool would bet against Jozy not turning up his game a notch in response to his exclusion.

        The best US player, based on consistent performance, is Howard and he has had his mistakes. But he is a keeper and they are in a separate category.

        If I had to look back at the last couple of games I would say Bradley, Fabian, Dolo and Zusi have consistently played the best but really that points out the bigger problem with this team which is that the availability of their best players, Donovan, Bradley, and Johnson has been spotty.

      • Wow, the only member of the USMNT to ever win a bronze ball at a major tournament still receiving stick. He’s scored 1 goal in the last 3 matches…so I guess he’s awful. Remember, he wasn’t even training with Fulham 1st team before his transfer and he came into USMNT camp and preformed. How easily you supporters forget. Oh and the one who said Howard is the most int form: Did you watch the World Cup? Until recently he wasn’t in top form. However, Dempsey was scoring goals like no other USMNT member has ever done.

  15. First, let me say, I thought Antigua probably deserved a draw, considering how both teams played. However, that field was an absolutely travesty. Concacaf needs to d something about field conditions like that or else they should be culpable for injuries, not to mention the terrible play due to the field. Frankly, its a joke that a player like Dempsey or Bradley or Chicarito -hypothetically speaking- would ever have to see that kind of field. You can’t put a decent field out there, too bad.

    • They get payed to play, they can deal with it. They aren’t so “good” they can’t play passionately for their country on a less than ideal pitch.

      • What they get for Nats duty is a pittance; their jobs are to play for their club teams and they only have so many years for that. Actually, they are exactly that good.

      • I believe that the international level of the sport deserves to played on a field that meets certain minimum standards. Absent of these standards, you make a mockery of the game. This field made a mockery of World Cup Qualifying. How can FIFA not approve the fake variety of turf and approve of a playing surface of this quality and size is a mystery? Opinions that state that both teams have the same field are irrelevant. For that argument to make any sense, you have to then allow any conceivable field and throw standards out the window. Additionally, getting paid has nothing to do with it other than that makes them too valuable to risk on this type of playing surface.

      • +1.

        field conditions were not up to par; the host team needs to get a quality field, and if money is an issue FIFA should pay. it’s embarrassing that FIFA would allow that – no way they’d let France England or Italy play on a field like that. a real soccer field. i’m sure beIn sport gave ATG plenty of revenue to pay for a quality soccer field. make it happen.

      • Agreed. If you’re a world class pianist training on a $50,000 piano then perform on a $12 childrens keyboard from Walmart…your performance isn’t gonna sound so good. So it should be no surprise we had a tough time.

  16. I think the field deserves a 3 and the home team an 8 for really milking the clock. The goal keeper went down every time someone breathed on him and he “stayed” down. The US simply looked flat . Their plan of trying to move SLOW and pass into the box with 9 defenders on a High school field was dumb. Most of the time the forwards had their back to the ball and could do very little. If the field is so swamped and slippery,.We only had limited wing play? Klins should have told them to fire and keep fireing from anywhere near the 18 yard box. Hat’s off to Sacha for trying. Also Nice to see EJ back and who knew that Gordon could be a good addition? I also likes Dolo, Zuzi in the 1st half and MB tried tirelessly altho conditions were simply lousy. The D lookes as slow as snails in heat.

  17. First off, anyone that has been following qualifying knows that Boca and Cameron is the strongest CB pairing we have right now. Busting that up for one game rather than calling in a goofy-footer like Heath Pearce or Lichaj was a risk and we got burned.

    I love Dempsey. That said, he has never really been a “catalyst” player for the US. To use the movie Tombstone as a metaphor, He’s Doc Holliday to Donovan’s Wyatt Earp: the greatest gunslinger around, but not the one who will rally the posse. Junior Bradley is showing signs he might be the one to lead the attack, but to pin that expectation on Deuce will always lead to disappointment.

    Zusi took a significant step forward by showing a consistency that I really hope continues.

    • Points for the Tombstone reference. I’m not sure it holds anymore though. Donovan has been out of the picture for a really long time with the nats. The last time he played and looked effective was vs. Scotland where everyone looked good. Not saying he can’t be Wyatt again though. Dempsey it would seem has to be the player who this offense is built around and it doesn’t seem like we’re doing that with what we’ve put out lately. Dempsey needs to be closer to the box. I still get the impression that we’re playing to a formation rather than our player’s strengths, particularly while we lack that attacking mid whose main strength is passing.

      • Yes, but that’s the point! With Wyatt’s absence the posse is without direction. It’s telling. We’re looking for that next person to Marshall the attack (pun intended). I think Junior Bradley and Zusi are walking the walk, but they’re not quite ready to lead the charge. But I just don’t think Dempsey is that guy. Too mercurial, too much a lone gunslinger. Yes I want him on the field, but I don’t think he ever wears the armband.

      • Love the Tombstone analogy.

        It’s pretty simple.

        The offensive fulcrum of Bradley’s teams were Donovan and Dempsey. When JK took over he lost the Marshall Earp side of the equation.

        Earp provide all the rationale and organization for their actions. It was Holliday who put the bullets on target and pulled the trigger. JK has tried Holliday as the Marshall but Clint has never really done it.And he is not particularly good at it.

        No one wants to admit it but the best thing for the USMNT would be for Landon to get well quickly.

      • You guys forget that when Dempsey wore the #10 in Donovan’s absence, he looked pretty solid.

        Give Dempsey the 10, let Donovan wear the 7. Yes, they are just numbers. But remember when Jordan tried to play without the 23?

    • Totally agree with regard to Dempsey. How long is JK going to put up with him dropping so ridiculously deep into midfield when he is suppose to be at forward , near the box on the receiving end of passes. He is essentially changing JK’s formation to one forward…not good…and definitely not the first time this has happened. Not a popular opinion, but his midfield play for the nats is poor. If you’re trying to beat the defender off the dribble every single time before you even consider passing, and you’re turning the ball over consistently as your teammates are opening up…you’re an impediment to ball movement. Love the guy in the box, but he should never be a primary distributor. Yes he’s solid in the EPL, I agree, but it only matters how he looks with the nats. Sounds absurd, but if he keeps blowing up JK’s line up, he could find himself sitting next to Jozy.

  18. If Klinsmann can bench Altidore for his lack of goal scoring and creating chances I think its only fair that he benched Dempsey for obviously the same reasons. Against Antigua Baracudas FC he was no where…couldn’t even make an impact against a 3rd division USL team, a game that should have been target practice
    Bocanegra loosing the ball, and not having the speed to catch up to an attacker….moving with the ball!! An error that lead to the goal….. Not good.
    The MLS player’s looked sharper and deadlier that our foreign base player with the exception of the Maestro……Mr. Michael Bradle. Pitch, weather, conditions…didn’t matter, whenever he touched the ball you knew he plays for a top league in the world. This kid has turn into something else and is just pure class (I remember when I use to dog him and say he only had a spot on the team because of his dad…wow!!). Zusi had very good chemistry with Eddie, Dolo and Bradley. Kjestan proved also that he deserves to be on the team. Alan Gordan showed his vision (imagine if wondo was on the team, they connect all the time in league games!!!) and skill on the team, and has this next game to really showcase his talents and become a regular on the USMNT.
    With bradley, Zusi, and donovan in the Midfield feeding Altidore and Johnson, we’ll be bound for some good, Entertaining soccer…….And with the way MLS player are making an impact I hope somewhere down the road we’ll see Morrow, Beitashour, Chris Pontius, Freddy Adu, Alonzo(if he can get his papers) or Brad Davis, Dax Mcarthy, Lloyd Sam (speedy midfielder NYRB)….This game was an embarassment but ….

  19. I think these are too generous across the board, except for Bradley and ‘Dolo, both of whom deserve their 7.. Knock everyone else down a point and I think that’s right.

  20. I don’t see how anyone other than Johnson gets above a 5. It was etrocious all around. I’m very glad Jones will be suspended and I think that Bradley has to move to a CAM or wing role. He still turns the ball over wayyyyyyy too much to play the CDM role. Somehow his admited moments of brilliance make everyone forget about his multiple turn overs that turned into legitimate chances…it’s a consistently reocurring theme with him.

      • True. But I would like to see him receiving service more than providing it. I think he’s more effective when he lets someone else provide the link between the backs and the midfield. The main issue being that he gets into situations where he’s the furthest midfielder back and turns it over.

      • Bradley was better on the ball than most, but his positioning was a huge problem last night. I assume he was tasked as the #8 because Williams was trying to play behind him, but Bradley kept dropping back to receive the ball deep and it seemed to 1) crowd out Williams and eliminate him from play and 2) keep us from linking with the forwards because thats where he should have been.

    • Last night being an exception due to weather/field conditions, Bradley is generally our best midfielder in possession. He has the highest pass completion rate by a long shot.

  21. Howard

    With Williams farther back than Bradley. Almost a 4-1-4-1. Let either Dolo or Fabian get ahead with Danny providing cover while MB maintains that central box-to-box roll. Hopefully, Zusi and Kjelstan can provide the wing support but I don’t expect it to be perfect.

  22. Gomez deserves lower for bad touch trying to dribble when he had shots open inside the box. Twice. Hit that shot!

    Also, I’m willing to give the defenders a break on the AG goal since it looked to be a clear foul on the offensive player that left him so open to score.

    It’s nice that Johnson and Gordon rewarded Klinsi’s faith in them, but I have to wonder what we could have looked like with some of the players who weren’t called in. It would have been great to not need last second heroics. Jozy and Boyd specifically. Maybe even Chandler, as much as I’m hesitant to go there. It would have at least cap-tied him, or given him a final put up, or shut up moment.

    • As far as I’m concerned, his final put-up-or-shut-up moment has already passed, and the only way he should ever be called up is if he goes hat-in-hand to Klinsmann to ask on the squad.

    • The Jozy/Boyd combo would have to have scored 3 goals to do better than what we had (2 goals and 1 assist) from their replacements. When was the last time they combined for that #? Let it go, JK got it right on this one. As for Timmy, you can’t cap tie a guy that doesn’t show up. I know that he said he would be open for a call up, however, he has been “open” before…and said no. Also, keep in mind that his last USMNT outing had him holding forwards on sides and the rest of the D not happy with him. Crappy and small field, bad ref, downpour, injuries to called players, 3 points, no injuries from this game. Take it and move on. Quit asking for players that don’t perform as well as those that were called up.

    • Glad to see–for the 1st time anywhere–someone mention what looked to me like a pretty obvious foul on the A&B goal. Whether Goodson deserves a full pass on his part in the play, I dunno, but the the foul looked to me like, well, a foul, and the refs’ nonreactions very CONCACAF-ish.

  23. I agree Jones should’ve been graded more harshly. I didn’t get the opportunity to watch Dempsey’s play in detail to see how he helped in transition or closed down lanes, he did seem invisible though….

    When everyone is healthy, the biggest thing I want to see addressed before the Hex (I don’t think it’ll be figured out or fixed by Tuesday’s match) is our formation and left mid and central attacking midfield combo.

    While it worked for A&B, I don’t like Johnson out left (also don’t think we have the capability to play 4-3-3 effectively or consistently against quality opponents). He had an excellent game, but I think he needs to be up top (Gordon subs in after 60).

    I don’t like Dempsey up top either, I think the USA is better served (usually) with Dempsey in the middle of a 4-2-3-1.

    I’d have Bradley as a deep lying midfielder along with Sacha Kljestan who plays a similar role for his club . I know it takes away some of their ability to get into the attack consistently, but Jones and Williams have been too inconsistent lately and I don’t think either brings enough in the attack. Sacha and Bradley give us much better transition potential from the back. If the goals were coming fast and often, I’d leave Williams / Jones in to partner with Bradley, but they aren’t so their destroyer qualities can go to the bench….

    Klinsi needs to try the above at some point with Corona as the left winger, or Shea when they’re healthy as I think it would lead to a more potent attack.

    • As far as the back line goes, our lack of pace was very evident. It was a makeshift line up, and shows that having Johnson is critical as a LB. Partnered correctly, Boca, Cameron, and to some extent Goodson came provide prototypical CB qualities, but when they are all on at the same time its like watching turtle races.

      • It does go a long way to showing how critical Fabian Johnson has become for this team. Even when he’s not having a great day going forward (which he does pretty well if he’s given someone to link up with) he’s still so much more reliable defensively in that position than anybody else in the pool (Lichaj and Castillo included).

        Part of the problem I noticed last night was that when they were heading down the left, Bocanegra was just flat out refusing to get forward. Given, it didn’t help that his partner, Johnson, was essentially all the way up top playing forward (which he should be) and either Williams or Jones was having a terrible night. Without the width of the fullbacks getting ahead, we’ve struggled. Same thing as in Jamaica (though the cause there was the 3DMs more than anything else).

      • While I agree with you about Fabian, there’s no excuse for not starting Parkhurst at LB. He’s got much more pace than Boca, he’s used to playing out wide (even if he is usually on the right side), and he’s been in top form for club and country lately.

        FJ should definitely start there is he’s healthy, but putting Boca out there when he’s not getting any younger and hasn’t played that position lately was a mistake..

  24. I think you’re being overly generous to all defenders who’s names don’t rhyme with “YOLO”. Same with Dempsey, if Klinsi was looking to him for leadership it was a huge fail, I can’t imagine yelling at teammates and staring angrily helped the cause.

    • Agreed. He seemed to have it out for Zusi despite the fact that Graham was playing well for the first hour or so AND delivered one crucial assist.

      • I think Dempsey might have actually started to affect Zusi’s confidence in the second half. Was not happy to see him yelling at his teammates.

  25. Good stuff, SBI! I’m glad to see player ratings here. I followed the game on your live feed (no visuals) so I’ve got no other perspective to offer.

      • +1 to grade Klinsmann

        I give Klinsmann a 6. He got the job done with his starts Johnson, Zusi, Gordon; defense looked decent enough. subs – Jones was bad, sacha was ok though.

        i agree with not picking up Jozy. a forward with no goals is not a forward (club doesnt matter folks).

  26. Goodson Cameron Bocanegra should all be 3’s. Yuck. It’s not that they coughed up a goal, it’s who they coughed it up against and how they did it. This was no lucky free kick or wonder goal… it was a complete and utter breakdown by seasoned pro’s against a bunch of semi-pro players who can’t even hack it in USL (Antigua Barracudas in last place in USL).

    • The goalscorer was Dexter Blackstock I believe, who is a regual goal scorer for Nottingham Forest in the English Championship. Byers who delivered the assist has an insane goal scoring rate. Something like 33 in 45 appearances.

    • That was all on Bocanegra. Actually it was Bocanegra losing the ball, then starting to race back, then deciding to jog when Cameron comes into the picture, then Boca’ not being in the middle when the cross comes because he stopped running. He could have made it. If you give the ball away, you don’t stop running until the ball is cleared. You never think your teammate has it covered. Especially when your a fullback.

      • If all our defenders could just D up 1v1 like Cameron did then we would pitch shutouts. Boca and Goodson should be fired and Cameron should have gotten the game ball. Cameron clearly couldn’t have played that any better

  27. I honestly think Jones should have been graded more harshly. He took the dumbest yellow I have ever seen less than 5 minutes after he came on.

    Also, maybe a 4.5 for Dempsey and a 4 for Gomez. Dempsey did not have that fire and Gomez tried to do everything perfectly.

    Why don’t we realize that when the weather sucks, test the goalie??

    • …..I hit post before I was done.

      When the weather got rough, we tried to take extra touches, which is not the way to go. That’s why I was so happy with Sacha – he took a speculative shot that – guess what!!! – almost went in. A&B was outshooting us 4-0 in the second half until the last 10 minutes.

      • I should have specified that first. I’m not either, although we will miss his fire, because when he plays with control, he’s excellent.

        I just thought Klinsi probably said to him, “Play smart, don’t lose the ball, and don’t get a yellow unless absolutely necessary.” Fail, fail, and fail.

      • Right he Totally blows. Only the worst players in the world start for champions league teams and their national team.

    • Everyone keeps talking about Jermaine Jones yellow card but forgets to mention how he was the only player connecting long balls right on the money, multiple times. He pushed forward and had faster play than any other player on the pitch


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