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USA 3, Guatemala 1: SBI’s Player Grades

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The U.S. Men’s National Team shook off Guatemala’s early goal and proceeded to dominate the visitors in what was easily their best performance of the 2012 World Cup qualifying round. There were a plethora of standout evenings, particularly in the attack, that should give U.S. fans some hope of better things to come in 2013.

From Eddie Johnson’s continued renaissance to Clint Dempsey’s stellar outing, the Americans put on a good show for the crowd at Livestrong Sporting Park and gave Jurgen Klinsmann plenty of reasons to celebrate.

Here are the SBI player grades for Tuesday night (based on the consensus of grades by SBI staffers Ives Galarcep and Franco Panizo):


(USA 3, Guatemala 1)

TIM HOWARD (6). His usual reliable self aside from one small hiccup in the second half in which he still impressively kicked a ball away to safety after fumbling a low cross. Nothing he could do on Ruiz’s goal. (Franco Panizo)

STEVE CHERUNDOLO (6.5) He might be 33, but Cherundolo sure is not showing signs of slowing down. He was solid throughout the match and his perfectly-weighted through ball to Johnson was instrumental in helping set up the Americans’ go-ahead goal. (FP)

GEOFF CAMERON (5) Another subpar outing at centerback for Cameron, whose reps at right back with Stoke City may be affecting his sharpness in the middle. Was partially to blame for Ruiz’s goal and the back line’s failure to stay organized on Guatemala counter attacks in the first half. He improved in the second half. (FP)

CARLOS BOCANEGRA (5.5). Had his defensive struggles, looking slow on Guatemala’s goal after being outrun by Carlos Ruiz. Made up for it with the opening goal, but lack of pace raises questions heading into 2013. (Ives Galarcep)

MICHAEL PARKHURST (6) Got forward well at times but was a bit too casual during other instances, allowing Guatemala players to strip him of the ball. Was tested frequently but held up well in his first national team appearance at left back. (FP)

DANNY WILLIAMS (7). Outstanding game for the German-born midfielder, who covered ground well and passed the ball as well as he did in the Jamaica qualifier in Columbus. Should hold on to the starting job for some time. (IG)

MICHAEL BRADLEY (7.5). Didn’t have the best start to the game, but came on strong and closed out the game like one of the best players on the field. His work on the final U.S. goal was outstanding and he remains one of the team’s key figures. (IG)

CLINT DEMPSEY (8). Scored two goals and set up a third. Stayed active in the penalty area, picking his spots while Eddie Johnson and Herculez Gomez provided the movement around him. (IG)

EDDIE JOHNSON (7) The Seattle Sounders forward’s speed and assist on Dempsey’s goal were just part of a solid night in the city where he enjoyed some of the early days of his pro career. His combination play was excellent and he also looked good when his back was to goal. The one black eye on his performance was that he did miss a chance to score in the second half. (IG)

GRAHAM ZUSI (7). Another quality performance from the Sporting KC playmaker. His movement and passing helped the U.S. attack stay fluid, and he provided quality service on corner kicks. (IG)

HERCULEZ GOMEZ (6.5). A rebound performance after a disappointing turn against Antigua & Barbuda. Gomez provided his trademark hustle, earning the corner kick that set up the opening goal and working the give-and-go with Michael Bradley that produced the final goal. (IG)

SACHA KLJESTAN (6) Once again, Kljestan proved to be a useful substitute. The RSC Anderlecht man added some energy, combined well with teammates and even had a hard shot that was saved by Guatemala goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez. (FP)

MAURICE EDU (5.5) Also provided energy off the bench as a midfielder and covered lots of ground to help stymie a Guatemala team that was trying to come out of its defensive shell. (FP)

JOEY CORONA (NR). Didn’t play enough to earn a grade but the appearance cap ties him to the U.S. (FP)

JURGEN KLINSMANN (7.5). His lineup decisions were impeccable, with Michael Parkhurst holding his own at left back and the trio of Johnson, Gomez and Dempsey working very well together. (IG)


  1. Coach gets the highest grade from me

    Watches the game in airport and folks were into it, yelling and screaming

    Loved it. Great job Coach Klinsmann

  2. Turds-

    I think Danny Williams had a great game. Letting Bradley push forward and get more touches closer to our attacking players is key.

    Geoff Cameron also needs to tuck in that bottom lip before he gets it caught on a trip-wire.

    Turd Bradley

  3. Dempsey scored but was pretty awful other than those instances. 1. He has no speed. 2. He dives. 3. He only cares about himself. I give him a 6. Not sure how you rate him above Bradley. Also, Howard was TERRIBLE. I can’t count how many times I watched the game when our defense was tracking back or a ball was played and I said “where the heck is Howard”.

    • I am not sure how you can be so down on Dempsey he is the best player on the team. He is not slow, and he is a very hard working player who is not selfish, he is a goal scorer. If you look at the elite strikers in the game they are all selfish, look at Rooney or RVP they play extremely selfish(not that I would put Dempsey in their class). That is what you want from a goal scoring threat. The dive was bad but even the best players do it from time to time.

      I do think Bradley’s grade was low as he did a great job controlling the ball and the pace of the game.

  4. It seems pretty certain that the November friendly will be mainly Euro based. So the interesting question is who will be called into the January friendlies. Defensively we may see Morrow and Beitashour called in from the Earthquakes. You have to think that Omar Gonzalez will get a call. George John? Anyone in the Norwegian leagues? The January camp will be Klinsmanns best opportunity to introduce some young backs into his style of play and maybe into the qualifiers.

  5. I can’t believe Ives gave Bocanegra a higher score than Cameron.. Boca has slowed down markedly and on the Guatemala goal.Ruiz was even with Bocanegra when the pass was made and just turned on the Jets and goodbye Boca . The goal was all due to Boca’s slowness. On other plays it took Ruiz just 2 steps break free from Boca due to Boca’s lack of acceleration. Boca will be eaten alive by strikers on Mexico and definitely in the World Cup. He has become another Jeff Agoos.

    • Franco and I both gave Bocanegra a higher score. He scored the opening goal (Kind of a big deal) and on the Ruiz goal it was Cameron who got caught up field, leaving a big gap for Ruiz to race into. If Cameron is in good position Ruiz doesn’t get the ball and overall, that play included or not, Cameron had a weaker performance than Bocanegra.

      • I respect professional soccer writers especially Ives and Franco. I watched the goal on video 20 times. I just find it shocking how Boca slowed to a jog once Ruiz got ahead instead sprinting all out to try to catch Ruiz who isn’t Usain Bolt. After the goal, Boca’s lack of acceleration was clearly obvious. Ruiz was able to shake off Boca with incredible ease.

      • We can agree to disagree on that goal. Bocanegra definitely lets up, and it looks like he was expecting Howard to come out. As for his lack of acceleration, Bocanegra isn’t a speedster but the fact is he’s having to race over from the right side to try and catch him, then the long ball takes a PERFECT bounce for Ruiz to run onto. How does Ruiz “shake off Boca with incredible ease” exactly? He raced into the open channel left open by Cameron. Could Bocanegra have done better on it? Sure, but you’re reading way too much into it and killing Bocanegra when he was hardly the only one at fault on that sequence. He also managed to hold his own the rest of the night defensively, and looked more solid than Cameron.

  6. From watching the last two games EJ was effective because he had something that is lacking and that is speed. The next round of WCQ we will need to increase the the speed on the field to keep opposing defenses honest

  7. The biggest problem facing the USMNT to me is the CB situation. None of the guys in contention actually PLAYS centerback at a top club level consistently. Cameron has been used as a RB and occasional CDM at Stoke, Boca is playing in the Spanish 2nd division after playing all of August in the Scottish 3rd tier, Goodson is playing in Denmark and hasn’t looked good at all recently, Edu is hardly getting any time at Stoke and when he did get in it was at CM, Tim Ream can’t get a game right now for Bolton in the English 2nd tier, Omar Gonzalez has been awesome for the Galaxy but hasn’t really been given the chance to show his skills for the national team, same goes for Besler with Sporting KC. It really is looking wide open right now with no natural candidate really emerging to fill the void at CB. Hopefully we get 2 guys that can step up by the time the Hex comes around next year.

  8. what kind of recovery speed does Edu have? We don’t really have a true speed demon in the CB pool, so he might be a legitmate answer.

    • John Anthony Brooks and Greg Garza are two prospects that might merit a look. Brooks is a CB in Bundesliga 2 and Garza plays left back in Mexico.

      • Greg Garza is in no way shape or form a CB so I’m not sure why you’d mention him here. He’s not international caliber either, even at positions he actually plays like LB and LM. He only played for Tijuana because Castillo was out. Yes he scored a rebound goal, good for him. That should not be nearly enough to get someone in the USMNT discussion.

    • I kind of agree with your sentiment, my concern is that unlike wingback, who are the next men up at CB? There are people at LB and RB who could be used. CB we start talking Marshall, John, Gale A., Ream, Gonzo, the horrid youth teamers especially the U23s, and so on. It’s been bad long enough where it’s like a hole in the development program. Bluntly, I’m a little concerned about our youth system because most of the recent “new” players are senior Germans or capped internationals back from the wilderness. And the players from outside that are like Cameron or Zusi, college/ MLS products who came from outside the NT/ Bradenton pipeline.

      Where is the next generation of Donovans? Or, a propos to the comment at hand, we don’t have a junior CB ready to step up? The impression I get from many DMs and GKs and nobody at other spots is randomness, not an effective youth system producing the next set of seniors. What’s going on?

  9. I have a bit more confidence in Klinsi, now. Granted, these are matches we SHOULD win, and we haven’t done so poorly in qualifying in 12 years, but he’s made some out of the box type inspired moves that have worked out well, too. Thus far I’d say:

    JK Plusses:
    – Creative, inspired roster and formation changes
    – Increased communication and PR
    – Tapping into German-American player pool
    – High line (mixed results)
    – He seems to EVENTUALLY realize who the best players are (Herc, MB, Sacha took longer than it should, though).
    – Encouraging players to challenge themselves in better leagues.
    – He’s done this before – performing very poorly with the GMNT in qualifying, only to pull it together for the WC.

    JK minuses
    – Too many roster and formation changes leading to instability and lack of any recognizable style and cohesiveness.
    – Too much PR. He’s constantly contradicting himself and setting expectations of one thing while doing the other. He also criticizes players in the media which is pretty classless and can lead to dissension in the ranks.
    – Lack of confidence in his players to play attacking football.
    – Seems to repeatedly favor hustle and grit over skill and passing, despite promising a more skilled, free flowing style.
    – Tends to dodge responsibility, blaming players, the pool, and the system rather than taking any blame himself.
    – Repeatedly wastes his roster spots instead of bringing guys in to train against and get used to the system and provide depth.

    Funny how many of the plusses are also minuses which leads me to feel that JK needs to moderate his style and provide more consistency. He’s a bit like the mad scientist, constantly tinkering.

  10. It is sad that what used to be a strength (Central Defense) is now a weakness, one that actually came to light back in the 2010 World Cup…how many times in crucial games has the USA been beaten by a ball over the top and not been able to muscle the opponent off the ball, or had the speed to recover…Ghana has done it to us a few times in key games. It happened last night…and luckily we were playing an inferior opponent and had time to recover.

    We won’t be able to recover like that against good teams, they won’t allow us back into games. I hope journalists like Ives put the spotlight on Klinsi to get the right combination of size, speed, and technical capability playing in central defense over the next 4-5 months.

    We have some other problem areas, but this one is critical. I see us as the 3rd best team in CONCACAF right now, and if we have more away games like Jamaica in the HEX….I said it before: we will be heading to New Zealand to claim the last spot.

  11. Disagree on Gomez, who should have been no higher than a 5. We need Jurgy and Jozy to get over their little spat, because this team will be much, much better going forward with Jozy up top, and Gomez coming off the bench to provide a spark.

    I also think EJ has shown that he is a very viable winger, and I think when Donovan gets back it will be those two on the wings. Zusi also seems very capable, and then I think Shea comes after those three. Still, it appears we finally have options wide.

    Going forward, I like:


    • I like this, but I would prefer to see Bocanegra overtaken by someone else in the middle. I would also like to see Freddy Adu brought into the mix. Not for the starting 11, but a quality option off the bench.

  12. Where’s the Bradley haters? Yeah maybe he was on the team for a reason OTHER than his dad was coach. Bradley was the best or second best player on last night’s squad. His ease on the ball was excellent. No one turns out of trouble better than he does AND still attacks at the right moments. Smooth very smooth. (And he hasn’t attacked anyone on the field or tunnel lately either)

    • I wouldn’t call myself a Bradley hater but I am certainly not a fan. I believe a 7.5 is a very generous rating for him. I was not impressed with him all night and would say you could watch an entire JV high school game and not see as bad of a turnover as he had 4 minutes in. That dreadful pass which led to a goal was against Guatemala (in an important game), not even some decent European or South American team. I will say Bradley has some good qualities and has improved since moving to Italy but I don’t get why so many people make him out to be such a great player. This year for him at Roma should be interesting…

      • It never ceases to amaze me that when MB makes a big blunder none — and I mean none — of the media talking heads mention. And usually not even the fans breath a word of it. And, let’s please be honest here, MB’s bad pass that led to the goal was a major blunder that had potentially huge negative implications. I have no doubt that if Jermaine Jones or Edu or Beckerman had made the same mistake it would have been mentioned in the ratings above and rabid MB fans would have had knives out posting hateful comments. It seems like MB is coated with teflon (MB90-T) and judged by a double-standard and he is off-limits to criticism. Very strange. The only explanation I see for this is that he has trolls on boards who attack immediately anyone who even hints of criticism. And the strategy has worked: Posters remain fearfully quiet and refrain from even the slightest criticism of MB. Not healthy, I think, for the USMNT in particular and American soccer in general.

        And the same with MB’s temper tantrum Friday night in Antigua after he was tackled legally in the penalty box late in the game which was totally silly of him and could have earned him a red card and put our win in jeopardy. Nobody mentioned it, while if Jermaine Jones had done the exact same thing it would have triggered an uproar. Again, MB benefits from a double standard that I contend is not only bizarre but not healthy. MB needs to be held to the same standards as other US soccer players.

        I wonder whether MB truly wants this sort of Teddy Bear treatment. Maybe he does, but maybe he does not and is actually embarrassed by it. One thing is sure: MB is not a wimp but a tough dude and I am sure he can handle the criticism of media pundits and fans just like other USMNT players have to deal with it day in and day out.

        Luckily MB’s mistake against Guatemala was against a bad team and we quickly equalized. But MB is prone to mistakes like that now and then and if it happens in a big came in the World Cup we might not be so lucky to recover.

        I will say this, after the early mistake against Guatemala I thought MB had a mostly good game offensively and helped contribute to the win. I still think his defense is weak and think we have much better options at the deep Number 6 defensive midfield position. I don’t trust MB defensively against good teams with quick attacking midfielders and forwards. I think in the Hex next year he will be playing only the Number 8 position.

      • Biff, you make many very good points, especially about Bradley’s outburst in the Antigua game. Not only was he lucky not to get a yellow which would have suspended him for the Guatemala game but he looked very unprofessional after what was a very nice tackle by the Antigua player.

  13. Was a nice showing from the US Guys last night and was great to end the group stage on a positive note before the Hex. Cannot really see much to complain about on the offensive side of the equation–looked very strong and confident in attack. I would bet that Jozy is feeling a bit worried right now. The team showed they can do quite well without him, thank you. Not saying I don’t want him to work his way back on to the roster. I am a Jozy fan and I think an in-form hard-working Jozy would make the team better.

    Eddie Johnson with no goals last night impressed me more than he did scoring two goals Friday in Antigua. He looked confident with the ball — almost cocky a few times — worked well with the team. And Herc did not disappoint. He was excellent and gave 110% every second he was on the field (Take note, Jozy). I know Clint and Eddie J. are buddies, but if Klinsmann catches even the slightest whiff that Clint is preferring to interact more with Eddie than with Herc to the detriment of the team, then Klinsmann needs to pull Clint aside immediately for a man-to-man talk.

    But Clint shined last night and will no doubt be a key player next year in the Hex with his hunger to score goals, even if it means stealing a goal from his buddy Michael Bradley or taking a dive in the box (which did seem kind of pointless with a 3-1 lead late in the game but nonetheless shows his desire to score).

    Big question now is whether we see Donovan in a US shirt next year. Zusi has made me a believer and if he is not yet as good as Donovan, I think he might be by the summer of 2014 in Brazil. (Which reminds me, Hannover apparently is looking to add a midfielder) And Williams impressed last night. Exciting because he is so young with plenty of upside.

    It could be that these past six difficult weeks were the best thing that could have ever happened for Klinsmann–a experience to learn from and he is a smart guy and I hopeful he won’t repeat some of the mistakes he has made the past year. yeah, I admit, after the show last night I am feeling pretty gosh darn optimistic about the hex.

    • biff, agreed for the most part.

      I, too, would like to see Jozy make his way back into the fold. Having to choose between in-form (and hard-working) forwards is a great problem to have.

      Not sure what you’re getting at, regarding pulling Dempsey aside. I think his collaboration with EJ is great.

      I’m on the fence with Zusi, to be honest. I think he’s a good player, for sure, but he hasn’t quite convinced me. He is definitively a serviceable replacement for LD, but I’d take Landon any day (as I’m sure you would?) over Zusi. I sincerely think (hope) we will see LD back for the next round. He shines in big games and these will be big games.

      As for the next round: Offensively, I’m optimistic. Defensively, I’m sh*t scared. 🙂

      • i agree that Dempsey and Eddie worked well together and was happy to see it. what I mean is that I get the feeling that a few veteran USMNT players for one reason or another might not be 100% supportive of Herc’s new role as a key member of the team. I did not see anything so blatant during the past two games that makes me believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that Herc was being intentionally ignored now and then, but there were a couple of times when I thought a pass maybe should have been made to Herc but it wasn’t, while it was clear to me that Dempsey and Eddie were seeking each other out. So I am just saying that if Klinsmann gets the idea that Herc is getting frozen out, I hope he takes prompt action to put a stop to it. (And, yes, I am a major fan of Hercules Gomez and think the USMNT is usually much more effective with him than without him. I wish he could get a gig in Europe.)

    • Actually, Jozy IS in form. He’s leading the league in scoring. It’s not really a matter of form, it’s either Klinsi sending a message, or some personality clash, or a matter of system fit (or some combination of the above).

  14. Fun game to watch, free-flowing for the most part and entertaining.

    Dempsey and Bradley are absolute studs. I like what Johnson brings to the field – not afraid to go at people, refreshing. Dolo was solid. Gomez worked his butt off, as usual. The Corona sub was genius (cap-tied), and he showed his comfort on the ball.

    With all that said, here are my critiques:

    Zusi was just okay, definitely not a “7.” He did not really have any positive effect on the game, he often gave the ball away, needlessly. His services (with the exception of one corner) were poor. Just ask Dempsey if he likes his service. Hint: he doesn’t. That’s why Clint mentioned in the post-game that they/he miss/need Landon back and fit.

    Parkhurst was useless. I could have done what he did. He got the ball, dribbled forward a few steps. Stepped on it, and played backwards or sideways. He was never really challenged defensively. Maybe Klinsi is right, anyone could play left back if that display gets you a “6” rating.

    As someone posted above, Howard had an off night. He should have come out on the through-ball to Ruiz. Boca and Cameron are not blameless, however, as their lack of communication was the source of the problem. The backline cohesion NEEDS to happen before the next round or we are in REAL trouble.

    As the prior article said, “Mission Accomplished.” They did what they need to do, and I applaud them for it. But, the next round will not be as forgiving. I pray that they are healthy and all on the same page.

    • nice comment. and, you know, you do have a point on Zusi. I still like the guy and let’s not forget he is still a baby in the international game with a lot of upside. and I am not so sure Donovan will be back. I hope so, but we will see

  15. I think that when Hercules Gomes left the field, the offensive creativity went down many levels. Then when zusi left, we had no offense whats so ever. Carona almost had a significant moment.

  16. Gotta give LIVESTRONG PARK and the US FANS an 8. Seeing a stadium, bathed in red and cheering for the US… Well. We’ve come a long way. Can’t wait to take in a match there one day

    • Great park, I hope USA plays a game in the Hex in KC also. As well, I wish we could see USMNT games at the new Houston stadium… But that will never happen in a meaningful game.

  17. Klinsi, who I have been so-so with, just earned some points with me for having the stones to make some of the choices he did. (I bet he will be relieved to know that)

    That said, I still feel that when we start to play bigger and better teams, where we may only get 2-3 good looks at goal a game, I still think Jozy has to be the Yank to take those chances. I wonder how he will go forward from here.

  18. That’s nonsense that he couldn’t do anything on Ruiz’ goal. He was 50% responsible for that goal by way of him not coming out as an aggressive keeper should. He was given a 4 on ESPN, and that’s far more accurate.

    How is Klinsmann not a 9 or 10? That was some of the best soccer the USMNT has ever played–and they were missing Donovan and Johnson to boot. The tactics and personnel decisions were perfect.

    That team last night showed EVERYTHING that Klinsmann preaches. It was extremely high pressuring on defense to win the ball back quickly. It was quick passes and holding possession with smart off-ball movement and every player was on their game in the right places on the pitch.

    Also, hard to argue that the pitch isn’t a viable excuse when you can see the difference the beautiful SKC ground made in the quality of possession.

    • Ugh. No offense, but you’re overstating quite a bit, here. The best soccer USMNT has ever played??? This was against Guatemala, you realize, right, not Argentina? Did you see the match earlier this year against Italy? The win against Spain? The 3-2 win last year against Slovenia was also much more impressive and showed cool passing against a much better defensive side. How about the pasting of Portugal or any one of several triumphs over Mexico, or the win against Algeria. What about the 3-2 win over Sweden – a much better side or 3-0 over Poland or 3-1 over Denmark or 4-0 over El Salvador (a team that has actually made World Cups). I’m sorry, but 3-1 over a team that has never, in their entire history, made a World Cup doesn’t begin to compare. Even the Scotland 5-0 win was at least more beautiful to watch and probably a better side, too. Sorry if I went overboard, but this team has played some glorious matches in the past and I think it’s demeaning to call that some of the best soccer they’ve ever played.

  19. Love the concept of averaging out your writers’ player grades. One man’s arbitrary numerical grade is always a bit shallow-feeling.

  20. Whoa, Whoa, Whoa…

    Klinsmann only at 7.5?!? His celebrations after each goal are worth at least a point each. So that means you rate him at about 4.5 for his coaching decisions. I’d give him a 10.

  21. It cracks me up when pundits always cite Bocas “lack of pace” insinuating he ever had any pace to begin with. He never has and that has not what has kept at a high level for so long with both club and country. Despite getting burned on the long ball Ruiz goal, it was a communications breakdown between Boca, Cameron AND Howard. Not lack of pace!…The D was far better and organized after that.

    • I tend to think that the inability to recover on a line as high as that was, has to reflect on player speed. Mis-communication or a blown offsides call on a ball over the top generally tends to be more dangerous when the defense is too slow to redeem themselves.

      I am a big beliver that there is a critical mass point at which a defense becomes too slow. Unless you are playing beer league soccer against an old man team, to me there is a such thing as putting out a defense too slow to recover from any mis-steps. Panama at Gold Gup one example. Germany before the 2006 Cup is another. Berhalter was basically done after that game because he simply couldn’t stay with his marks.

      So, one thing that concerned me about that defense, beyond it being second tier talent, is the overall lack of speed. And we are consistently allowing a goal a game against teams that can’t even make the Hex. There needs to be a re-think while there is time to figure out our options. You might be able to retain certain players within an overall more mobile backline, or for use as subs. But the suggestion if we worked on communication and gelled the players better, etc., that’s lipstick on a pig.

      • Fair enough, but Boca has been a very long time starter for many years in the back and has never (along with any of our CBs for as long as I can remember going back to the days of Lalas) had what would be considered pace. If you want to redesign how we play the CB position, that’s perhaps a fair debate. On this particular play, if Boca, Howard and Ruiz all kept up their full sprints to the ball, it would have been an ugly train wreck. The communication breakdown between Boca, Cameron and Howard was the reason for conceding that goal…Not pace.

      • I think Imperative’s point about maintaining a high line is the key. Our team is trying to make a transition into a style where applying more high pressure with the Defense maintaining a high line is emphasized. This requires a different type of defender than we have had as our prototype in the past. Among other things, it basically meant the end of Gooches international career and may hasten Boca’s. The guy is still money when sitting deep and on set pieces, but his mediocre distribution and lack of speed really begin to become apparent playing this type of game. The only thing that has kept him going is his leadership and the lack of an alternative. I have much love for Boca, but his days as a stalwart on the back line are numbered.

        It is going to be interesting to see who steps up. Gonzo has made an incredible recovery from his injury and doesn’t appear to have lost a step which is deceptively quick for such a big man. His distribution still needs work and may be his biggest challenge in cracking the line-up. Can’t say I see enough of John to know where he stands. I honestly think Edu has great potential in this style of play. He is strong, good in the air, fast and passing that measures up for a central defender. He desperately needs time at the position which unfortunately doesn’t look like it will happen at club. Ream has dropped himself completely off the radar not even getting a sniff in the 2nd div..

      • Boca’s brain and game savvy will make up for his diminishing speed for awhile. He’s going to be critical to have around moving forward as we transition into a back four that does not feature him, so there will be matches where he will HAVE to be out there or on the bench.

        In the meantime, I’d like to know where the really strong prospects are that should be nipping at his heels. I’m concerned that our strongest CB candidates right now seem to be Goodson and Cameron.

      • I think you can get away with one slow player in the midst of some athletes. But if you start too many slow guys it turns into the Dynamo defense that has Boswell, Taylor, and Hainault, all of whom are slow as molasses, and basically get one shot to stop you, which has to work.

        In other words, you like Boca’s brain, surround him with some mobile people who can pick up his physical slack. But you can’t have Mr. Positioning Parkhurst on the field with Boca Brains on the field with Old Man Dolo and half-awake Cameron. What helps sometimes as much as positioning and communication is having teammates fast enough to cover your mistakes. If we have a bunch of technical thinkers in there the speed teams will take advantage, like I said, Panama, Jamaica, Germany way back when. Just like you want big forwards balanced with speedy ones, if you want to use an older, smart back he needs help around him, people who can cover.

      • That’s the point Imperative Voice. Name me a single Centerback going back to 1994 with Alexi Lalas and Marcelo Balboa who has ever been on the US squad who would/could ever be deemed as even marginally pacy/speedy/fast. It hasn’t existed and still doesn’t within our player pool. The compensation has to be smarts and communication and covering by the speedier midfielders/wingbacks when a CB strays forward. It really boils down to soccer 101 basics. I’m looking forward to a new generation of young defenders to include the likes of Omar Gonzalez and George John (neither of which are considered fast or fleet of foot) also, but until/when Klinsmann decides when to incorporate this. We’re stuck with what we have.

      • Some of it can be resolved by calling up faster wingbacks….and we do have a history of a younger Dolo, Hedjuk, plenty of that type of player. With slow CBs you need flank cover.

        But, I still think 2 slow CBs is just generally a risky proposition because on a play like Ruiz’s break they have to be able to fend for themselves.

        I do recognize there is some balancing act, Boca added a goal just like our slow back line gave up. But ideally you want the backline netting out way positive. And if the team is supposed to be improving, then pointing backwards to our Lalas and Goose years is kind of tolerating mediocrity. If you look at the goals Antigua and Guatemala were getting on us, mobility is a factor.

      • I agree, we need to have at least one starting CB with international level pace…We need recovery speed because there will always be a handful of critical miscommunications and defensive breakdowns. I don’t think we have options though, even with the new crop of up and coming CBs. The only option is taking someone like Chandler (if he ever comes to his senses) or Williams and train them at CB. F. Johnson has good pace on the left but we get burned so often on balls played directly over the top of our CBs

    • Pappa moved from Chicago Fire to Heerenveen in Holland over the summer, but is yet to make an appearance for them (I don’t think he’s been injured either). That, combined with Guatemala setting up defensively because they needed a draw to advance, is why Pappa didn’t start I think.

      • Which is like Lichaj logic to me. He scored on us last time. Leaving that on the bench is like, tyvm. Job easier.

        I mean, if you know a player like Lichaj (or Pappa) has performed in the colors, why are we talking club? Unless he’s out of shape or injured or can’t kick a ball straight you should go down swinging with the best guys in your jersey, not an all star team of the best current club players under your umbrella.

      • I think it’s much more the case with Pappa, who is one of their best talents with many caps versus Lichaj, but I would like to see Eric in camp.

      • Just an observation, but they did score a goal in the half he was on the bench, and didn’t in the half he was on the field. And Pappa didn’t really make an impact in the 2nd half either, whether that is his fault or a product of how the game went you be the judge.

  22. Despite being a Parkhurst and Revs fan, I think everyone’s overrated MP so far. He resorted to “passing to no one” on long kicks up field numerous times. He actually never did that so much with the Revs, but it looked like he was feeling a lot of pressure. Defensively, mostly okay, but lost the ball when he sluggishly kept it on his foot too long and way too many giveaways on the night.

    • Parkhurst, like a pocket passer without real wheels, probably distributes better when you give him time on the ball. With that sideline to worry about and players chasing you it becomes a different story, and he lacks the wheeels to create his own openings.

      • THIS. to rate the guy for playing out of position is a bit unfair. that said, he was the weakest link last night. Still think he’s one of our top 7 defenders right now, though.

    • Completely agree. He looked nervous every time the ball came to him…and far too many giveaways.

      He did get the ball to EJ on the flank once with a nice first-touch pass. Anyone with confidence in their left foot could have made that pass on second touches, and gotten the ball around the edge, all night. No surprise all of our goals originated on the right.

      Overall, MP looked a fish out of water.

  23. i think JK’s rating should be higher, because he did take us to the hex. 😛

    seriously, I did like his corona sub. he could have put in another d mid to play it safe, but instead chose to cap-tie a promising player. nice.

  24. not for nothing, but it sure looked to me that the ‘chance’ EJ had was slightly deflected … maybe he should have still gotten to it, but it did look like it threw him off.

    • Finally!
      Somebody else noted this. The cross was deflected. No deflection and that would have
      been a goal… Or at least a shot on frame.

      EJ is being wrongfully docked. He had a better game than dempsey… Challenging defenders, switching the pitch, deep lying, or classic wingers. Total defensive nightmare.

    • I saw that, but he should have been hitting it with his left and probably would have scored had he done so.

      He had a great game though. I would love to see the games in Europe. Not sure what those guys were thinking…or was it him ? Come home to Seattle EJ, we have the MLS Cup to win…..WEEEEEEE’ve got the biggest………

      • dempsey scored his first goal with his right foot on a right cross

        replay EJ’s goal vs. the timbers… left foot on left cross

    • Noticed the exact same thing and was wondering how nobody else saw it. I though the replay made it pretty obvious it deflected off the defender

    • Come on, now folks. That was a whiff, plain and simple. I like EJ and think he was instrumental in the win, but you have to take the bad with the good. He also missed an easy rebound a minute or two later. All he had to do was chip it over the keeper and he blasted it into his chest instead. Good passing, crossing, backtracking and wing play but poor finishing last night.

    • THIS! the ball was very clearly deflected. The initial trajectory was going to put the ball in front of him for a left footed tap-in but the defender deflected it slightly and it ended up behind him on his right which he missed.

      I was surprised no one has picked up on it even after they showed it on replay.

    • Deflection or not, Johnson should have used his left and at least made contact with the ball. That cross was not behind him.

  25. Respectfully disagree on Howard’s grade, which should have been a full point lower. There was nothing he could do once Ruiz got the ball, but a 50 yard through ball that rolls three yards into the box before Ruiz touches it should have been intercepted by Howard. He came out quickly in the second half to snuff out a potential breakaway – he should have done the same on the goal.

    • actually think Bocanegra was incredibly lazy recovering on that play, too. you can see him in the highlight slowing down even though it look like he might have made it to the touchline since Ruiz had to take extra time getting around Howard.

      • So right on this. While watching that goal, I thought Boca had pulled a hammy and that’s why he was jogging after Ruiz. Or that the whistle had blown? That’s how slow it was. And it’s not as if he was 15 yards back and out of reach, either. Very odd. Coming back with the goal was key, of course. Reminded me of his tap in vs Honduras in wcq in 2009.

      • I thought I saw that THo and Boca both acknowledged they flubbed the possession–both thought the other was gonna pick it up.

      • Howard was indecisive and hesitated also and it looked, to me, that’s why Boca slowed down. Communication breakdown to me…

      • That play reminded me of Jimmy Conrad’s last game with the nats when he had to grab the opponents shirt and give up a PK on a routine ball over the top. A glaring sign he was no longer part of the conversation at CB. Ruiz was a journeyman MLS forward and Boca couldn’t make up any ground on him…couldn’t even get close enough to think about grabbing his shirt. Boca slowed down at the end thinking Howard would come out quicker, but Howard hesitated and just came out far enough to put himself in no man’s land. That play alone will start the transition away from Boca.

      • Hmmmm. I’ve always thought Howard shakier if you get him off his line and particularly in no-man’s land. And he did get basically flat-footed on the move, never even really got in on Ruiz’s feet. So I agree with y’all that far.

        But in terms of the timing coming out, I think Ruiz controlled it earlier than you’re suggesting, and there’s a risk if you come out too early on a tweener that when the guy gets to the ball he chips you. So while I would leave Howard in some of the blame for the goal I think he’s co-responsible with the backline that put him in the spot, where he had tocome out but also hold up to avoid being chipped.

      • Timmy ought to have gotten that ball. But Boca shouldn’t have waited for him to get it either. I don’t know how Cameron gets dinged on that, because Ruiz was Boca’s responsibility on the play.

    • Agreed on this. Havent seen a replay, but I definitely felt at the time Howard could have come out and cleared that ball before Ruiz arrived. His athleticism saved him from another mistake in the second half when he coughed up a low shot right at him. Not his best night. The centerback pairing and their understanding with Howard will b crucial for us next year.

    • I completely agree. Howard should have come out for that, and I really think Bocanegra was fully expecting him too. Surprised Howard didn’t read it better. Also, when did Cameron play poorly? Seems I missed that, besides maybe pushing a bit high on that goal

      • If you watch the field level replay shot from the end line, you can tell from Boca’s body language that he fully expected Howard to come out for that ball. It was kind of a “where the heck are you” type of shrug. I think a miscommunication for sure.

    • I agree that Howad did not play the goal well. Not only could he have come out earlier to intercept theball befoe Ruiz got it, but I actually don’t think he made the attempt to play Ruiz all that well either.

    • The up ones or the down ones? Cause like I said on the other thread, the question is fitness and form maintenance over time. He had that 2006 qualifying run where he was scoring on everyone, then disappeared. He had 10+ goal years in MLS, then he would have a year he had 2 goals. Which is why he’s bounced around a little.

      That being said, the productivity automatically makes him relevant considering our sparse forward scoring record outside Donovan and Dempsey. I personally think Boyd and even Jozy have more composure and skill and upside but you have to demonstrate it with the US. To me EJ has thrown down the gauntlet and if nothing else this should be motivational for the forward pool right along with the selection shock itself.

      • I’m happy for EJ. I think he’s showed vastly improved ability in the air as well as improved field awareness and work rate. I’m still not sure about his touch. He had one very nice touch last night as well as a few that got away a bit more than they should. It’s not an issue against Guatemala, of course. I’ll be very interested to see him play against better competition as that has always been his downfall. Can he still be effective against teams that are used to his speed and can take it away? Can he move the ball effectively against pressure? We know Jozy’s capable of that, as we’ve already seen him score and set up very nice goals against sides like Brazil and Italy under massive pressure and world class defenders. Jozy’s issues are consistency and JK’s system. They are so different, though. EJ doesn’t have Jozy’s ball skills or power and Jozy doesn’t have EJ’s speed or aerial prowess. It’s kind of silly to compare them. It will be particularly interesting to see if EJ can master the wing and provide the width we sorely lack.

      • Most goal scorers have ups and downs, Gomez is a perfect example, he like EJ, had a period when he just about gave up. Each, to their credit persisted.

      • I don’t even know where to begin with what an absurd comment this is. Altidore is a target forward who plays with his back to goal. Johnson is a speed player, who played more as a winger than a forward this match. Do Jozy haters even think about what they say before they say it? Or do they just not know shit about soccer?

      • James, the school of thought is not hate for Jozy Altidore. Eddie Johnson (and perhaps Gordon and Gomez) has put Jozy on notice, by his own versatility, aerial ability and the occasional hold up ability, that his spot on the team is not just a given….How can that be bad for the NATS as a whole? Jozy has to work for and earn his spot again and I fully expect him to do so and be a far better player for it.

      • No need to choose, bring them both in. One game we might need more speed on the wings or up front. Other games we will need some one to hold up the ball.

        JK may not have brought Jozy in cause JK knew we would control possision for both games and we needed flanking play. When we play teams that will control possision Jozy makes the better option.

      • It is okay James, Old school does not understand that players play different roles and positions. folks like him claim Jozy is lazy and not any good and blame Jozy for lack of production even when the mid field is not getting him the ball. But then mocks those who question/critices JK for putting players in strange spots. ie Williams out wide instead of in the middle, putting Torres as an attacking Mid, putting Boca on LB ect. Some will always hate or blindly love certain players/coaches without using any rational thoughts.

        But to be fair, jozy does need to hustle a bit more. But he is still getting better ever day thankfully.

      • You write a paragraph to take swipes at someone for “blindness” and then ultimately agree with them about Jozy’s work rate…? Funny guuuy

      • If you have watched the games this round of qualifiing you will agree every one of our players needs to pick up their game.

        My point is jozy is not blameless but not the scapegoat of lack or goals. I don’t agree with his assesment of Jozy work rate at all.

      • Calling Jozy a “target forward” is a myth based on he looks in his kit.

        A true target forward is someone like Didier Drogba, Emanuel Adebayor or even Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They’re strong, good in the air and rarely pushed off the ball.

        Jozy doesn’t muscle off opponents anymore than your average striker. For a striker, he’s certainly built like a target forward but certainly doesn’t play like one consistently enough to be called one.

        Before you question my ability to “think what I say”, I sincerely question if you know what the term “target forward” really is.

        In fact, along with his work rate/worth ethic, the element of playing stronger has been questioned by almost every manager (and commentator if you watch his matches).

        Jozy is strong but rarely exhibits the traits to hold that title. Honestly, it’s a myth.

      • The work rate helps, but this is why I am hoping Jozy really takes a lesson away from this round’s omission. Add a Jozy that DOES hustle similar to a Gomez, and our attack becomes pretty darn good.

    • Ya the effort up top was about as good as we’ve ever seen. And when the defense has two hard working forwards to worry about, that leaves Dempsey and the midfielders all the room in the world to operate.

    • I think it was an effective decision over the two games, and motivation to the pool. Now, he’s earned some right based on doing this when some of the others haven’t been. But considering EJ’s history, however, granting this any permanence is risky. Do you really buy EJ can play like that against Mexico in Azteca? GK is going to stay on his line on that groundball cross?

      • I am ok with saying EJs form wont last because of past history… but his cross was perfect and no GK in the world is getting to that before Clint… it was a perfectly played ball… kudos where they are due is only fair…

      • Name another US player who has scored 11 goals in the 11 WC qualifying games he has played in. As hard as it might be to think EJ has been the most consistent goal scorer in WC qualifying for the USA. It is just that little drought from 2006 through the middle of 2012.(One of the WCQ goals was in in the 2008 8-0 blow-out over Barbados.)

    • If you set your bar for genius as low as beating a very weak team missing three of regular 4 defenders 3-1 at home then, yes.

      • I guess you forgot the US were also missing 3-4 starters as well, which in my opinion woulda resulted in a much worse loss for the guatemalans! Why be negative when you don’t even consider all of the facts?!

  26. Still haven’t seen this one…in a meeting during the match last night and saw Bradley’s assist on Dempsey’s goal but that’s basically all I saw of last night’s match. Happy with the end result.

  27. Graham Zusi a 7??? Disagree. I like the kid, but thought he had a relatively poor game. He lost the ball more than any other player, and got burned a few times.

      • “Eurosnob”? I don’t like that term as much anymore. Doesn’t have that zing of old. Now I just stick with “ignorant”.

      • Psssh, this guy right here.

        If you want to support your national team, you should really support your national league.

        Eurosnobs are the worst thing ever.

      • Except that all we have to support in the US is a micky mouse league, with an awkward single-entity structure, a poor on-field product, and supporters who only show up because soccer is vaguely “alternative” in America.

        I want to like the MLS, but they give us so little to work with.

      • You don’t want to like the MLS you just want to bitch about it. There is much to like as the product has gotten better year in and out. Stop comparing it to england, spain, germany and italy and enjoy for what it is and what it can become, in time.

      • The thing is, I really do want to like MLS.

        But there are FIFA guidelines that dictate the format which domestic leagues should conform to. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that that format is good enough for the rest of the world, but not good enough for MLS (we know better here apparently).

      • Are you saying that the 66,000 (yes, that’s THOUSAND) people who attended the Seattle Portland match last week only went because it was the “vaguely alternative” thing to do? Are you saying the MLS attempt to create a league with parity, rather than the two-team league like Spain, or a four-team league like England or Italy, is “mickey mouse?”

      • “Are you saying that the 66,000 (yes, that’s THOUSAND) people who attended the Seattle Portland match last week only went because it was the “vaguely alternative” thing to do?”

        Yes. I live very near to both Seattle and Portland. They are exactly the fans I was referring to as being into soccer because it’s vaguely alternative. Most just show up because you can drink beer, and hang out with your fellow flannel-clad, ray-ban wearing hipster brethren. Most have no clue about the subtleties of the game, and think that and inverted winger comes with a side of biscuits and coleslaw.

      • dcm9, spare us your hilarious attempts of commentary. your comment about MLS was the icing on the cake. I bet your favorite team is in either manchester, England or Catalan,Spain.

        eurodoosh. you get zero respect from real football fans

      • Man, I thought you guys were talking about the Multiple Listings Service for real estate. I get it now, Major League Soccer. Sweet, hey, would you guys be interested in getting together for like, I don’t know, a bite to eat and a soda? You seem like really intelligent and friendly guys.

      • I hope you reconsider! So clever with your punctuation, too. Wow, a real dream buddy! We could watch games, talk about stuff and then maybe, you know, hung each other.

      • Nothing Timmy could do on the Ruiz goal. I thought the goal was his fault for not coming out. He is obviously the f*$#kin man but had a game to forget.

    • dcm9 — We must have been watching different games. Zusi was very solid with his passing and especially the corners, and I did not notice anything off about his defense.

      • Let me put it this way, I have seen better performances from Zusi (that’s a good thing) and ratings of 7 are usually saved for exceptional performances.

      • National team performances or did you perhaps forget your Euro-snobbery one lonely night in your mom’s basement and sneak at peak at MLS?

      • Just give your comment a quick read before you post, dude. Fixing typos will make you seem smarter, online at least.

      • typo comments are an automatic admission to the “I am in over my head, and nobody finds my previous input helpful, insightful, or knowledgeable” party.

    • Totally agree, dcm. Zusi’s service was bad (with the exception of the Boca goal). He gave the ball away a lot and was largely ineffective. I think Twellman is drinking the Kool-Aid served at LIVESTRONG. Maybe there’s dope in there. Too soon?

    • Funny, I thought a great many of our chances went through his side of the field. I think a 7 is about right. He also tracked back on defense far better than EJ did on the opposite wing.

      I’m still confused why we’re playing EJ on the flank and Gomez in the center, when naturally their positions are reversed.

      • Shawn, I think this was one of the best game EJ has played due to his defensive help. At times I screamed at the TV for EJ to get back up field. Then I realized that Eddie likes hanging back in defense to loose his marker. He is able to sneak forward unnoticed at times and find holes around goal….In the past he just hung back but this game I actually saw him pressure the ball and support the defense, even win a few challenges…..

    • I’ll preface this by saying that I enjoy MLS as a league and like watching Sporting play this season,; Zusi was USA’s third best player on the field BUT he has played better (Jamacian game).

      • Ha. I think this is all the dude a the top was saying in the first place, looks like we have some bullies on the comment thread though. I don’t think it was his best game either. I remember him losing the ball a few more times than the other players. I wouldn’t have given him a 7 either. Really looking forward to seeing more by him though, good addition, usually good service.

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