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Honduras 2, USA 1: SBI’s Player Grades

Photo by Michael Janosz/


SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras– It was an ugly team effort by the U.S. Men’s National Team, and trying to find bright spots is one of the tougher tasks you will undergo in the wake of Wednesday’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss to Honduras.

The Americans didn’t just make one or two mistakes, or have a special goal beat them. They were out-played, out-hustled, out-worked and out-classed by a Honduran side that just looked like it wanted the three points more than the U.S. did.

Not every American player laid an egg. Tim Howard stepped up yet again, while Michael Bradley did his best to try and lead a lethargic midfield.

Unfortunately those two of the few promising performances we saw from the Americans. What we saw more off was shocking performances, like the forgettable start turned in by Danny Williams, and the surprising struggles of Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson.

Here are the SBI Player grades for Wednesday’s loss to Honduras:


TIM HOWARD- (6.5). He made some absolutely vital saves to keep the Americans in the game, and was very aggressive in his penalty area. Grade takes a dip for not getting to the ball on what eventually became the Honduras winner.

FABIAN JOHNSON- (4). Looked nothing like the fast and dynamic left back we have seen in the past. Whether it was the extreme heat, or fatigue from the quick turnaround and travel for the mid-week match, Johnson looked a shell of his usual self.

TIMMY CHANDLER- (3.5). His cap-tying experience will be one to forget as he, much like Johnson, looked a step slow and out of his element. Beaten repeatedly and offered nothing getting forward.

OMAR GONZALEZ- (4). Looked tentative and vulnerable in space against Honduras’ quick attackers. He looked overwhelmed at times and falling asleep on the Honduras winner is inexcusable. He may be a centerback for the future, but there was little evidence that he should be starting already.

GEOFF CAMERON- (5). Was better than Gonzalez, but could also have done better on the Honduras winner. Was active and broke up a good number of plays, but it wasn’t a game he’ll want to spend much time remembering.

DANNY WILLIAMS- (3). Worst player on the field. Had very little impact on the game, and was flat out overrun by Honduran midfielders. He made everybody’s job harder and it is extremely difficult to see him starting games come March.

JERMAINE JONES- (5). When a central midfielder completes fewer than 20 passes, it’s safe to say you haven’t put your stamp on the game, and Jones had just 19 (though one of them was a beautiful pass on Clint Dempsey’s goal. Fatigued in the second half, forcing a substitution that Jurgen Klinsmann probably didn’t want to make at that point. That assist helps his grade, but his performance was far from acceptable.

MICHAEL BRADLEY- (6). Was the U.S. team’s best field player, though it was tough for him to standout playing in a midfield where those around him struggled so much. He passed the ball well, but struggled more than usual with handling the two-way responsibilities he has. By his high standards, it was a below par performance.

CLINT DEMPSEY- (6). Scored a beautiful goal, but his impact was ultimately limited by a midfield and forward that moved little and passed less. He tried to be active, and was efficient with his passing, but he was eventually reduced to try and force things himself, which wasn’t going to yield much.

EDDIE JOHNSON- (4.5). He tried to take people on, and had one nice cross that Jozy Altidore nearly put on frame, but looked to tire as he put in a good amount of defensive work on the left flank. Being deployed so deep on the left flank didn’t really play to his strengths and left him far from goal.

JOZY ALTIDORE- (4). Altidore is a player who relies on movement and passing from those around him and there was very little of that on Wednesday, so Altidore was ultimately reduced to an invisible figure in the attack. He saw little of the ball and wound up with yet another frustrating performance in the national team uniform.

MAURICE EDU- (6). Came on and showed an ability to get the ball and keep the ball and move the ball, doing more of that in his sub’s appearance than either Williams or Jones did as starters. He looked like a player who was sharp after finding regular playing time in Turkey, which is why he should have probably started in the first place.

SACHA KLJESTAN- (4). Deployed on the left flank, he had little impact on the match after coming in.

GRAHAM ZUSI- (5). Gave the team some energy that it sorely needed, but not much else. With the midfield fatigued he couldn’t really get too involved. (UPDATED- Meant to give Zusi a five originally, and not a No Grade.)

JURGEN KLINSMANN- (3). All of his important lineup decisions failed him. Gonzalez over Carlos Bocanegra was clearly a mistake, no matter the motives, and starting Williams over Edu was clearly a distaster. Aside from Edu for Williams, which was a correction of his own mistake, Klinsmann’s substitutions didn’t really turn the tide.


Which American player impressed you the most on Wednesday? Which American player was the most disappointing? Who would you have given a better grade to?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Okay, I am exhausted, looking over the stats for 2011 and 2012. The verdict:

    When Cherundolo, Cameron, Donovan, Torres, Jones, and Bradley are on the field together, the number of goals allowed drops from 1.0 to 0.5 goals/game. Spain currently allows 0.33 goals/game. Those 6 players seem to possess the ball as a group more so than any other group of players on the US roster in the back four and midfield. I believe possession leads to fewer goals allowed by the opponent. The remaining spots are open to discussion, although very little data for new, young players.

    Regarding strikers, Deuce and Gomez easily win hands down, averaging 1 goal per game between the two of them. Not bad considering, Spain averages 1 goal per game between Torres and Villa.

    • Thanks for your work and pointing out the information. Cameron really needs to play as a Back and move Fabian into midfield. Just Do It (Klinnsman). 🙂

    • Nice “Moneyball” and “Freakanomics” work! Thankful for nerds that can crunch the numbers and provide objective proof of their statements.
      Now finish that game of D&D. Tell the DM you earned it.

    • I’m a little confused at your calculations. Cherundolo, Cameron, Donovan, Torres, Jones and Bradley have only ever been on the field together for a total of 68 minutes — the game against the hungover Scots. While they were together they yielded a single goal (an own goal credited to Cameron). So, I’m pretty sure I would not want to base any conclusions on a mere 68 minutes of soccer in the last two years, let alone on minutes from a friendly against Scotland. And besides, 1 goal in 68 minutes = 1.32 goals per 90 minute game.

      Did you misstate something? Or did I miss a game somewhere? Torres was playing a lot before Cameron started playing a lot, and so getting all six of your players on the field at the same time is rare. Too rare in fact to draw any conclusions from.

      • When 4 of the 6 play together, minus the negative influence of Onyewu and Bornstein. Statistically, Onyewu has very negative impact on the defense.

  2. I like the idea of a midfield change: a box midfield with Jones and Bradley as Defensive Midfielders staying in touch with the two Center Backs and creating a box that will make it hard for anyone to get in front of goal. Jones and Bradley will have to play both ways and they do this already at Roma and Schalke. The other two midfield spots should be a play maker type like Torres for example paired with Sasha. These two will have to play both ways as well, but they have more offensive upside. The other option would be a 5 man midfield with Jones and Bradley as defensive midfielders with 3 offensive minded midfielders. Jones and Bradley are two of our best midfielders and SHOULD be on the field at the same time and also in a way that balances the attack and defense better.

  3. The solution to all these problems should be patently obvious:

    Pontius, Chris

    He can play wide and/or tuck in centrally. A good ball winner with a wicked shot. He needs a little more consistency, but compared to what we fielded yesterday….

    Also, I think we should give Biesler, Brooks, and Whitbread a look. Consider using Cameron at FB for away matches. It’s where he plays for Stoke.

    Parkhurst Besler Whitbread Johnson
    Mix Edu Bradley Pontius
    Altidore Dempsey

    Cameron Besler Whitbread Johnson
    Klejstan/Zusi Edu Bradley Jones
    Altidore Dempsey

  4. Klinnsman is a bum!!!! Bring back Bradley. This man Klinnsman is trying to play a style not suited for US. With Bradley, USA was a lock to qualify and with Klinnsman, you never know what the result may be even if they played USL Pro teams!

  5. I’m not super knowledgeable with formations, but is there a reason we always play the diamond midfield in the 4-4-2? Why not a more typical midfield and maybe go 4-4-1-1 with Deuce slotted behind the forward striker? Assuming we had some of these players back, I envision…

    • This way Dempsey is in the middle and we could have speed on the outside. If Donovan isn’t around, then maybe Gatt plays there and Shea/Zusi on the left. If Holden can’t come back then either Jones or perhaps Mixx or Corona. Thoughts?

      • Donovan will be around. I’m not sure the time is right for Mixx or Corona. It would be nice to get them into a couple late qualifiers if we somehow have a spot clinched by then. They’ll have some experience heading into 2014. Too bad we choked away a Confederation’s Cup opportunity, thank you Bornstein.

  6. I really wish Wondo would have made this roster and goten a chance to play consistently with Davis. Both really want to help the US win and have the right attitudes and work rate to set positive examples for the younger guys.
    These are two guys are off-season buddies who were among the fittest in camp (Wondo was #1 in VO2 testing) and both are no stranger to heat and humidity (Wondo played with Davsi in SJ, then Houston, for 5 years)
    Oh well, they’ll both go back to their clubs and do what they do…the reigning MLS MVP (Wondo) will score goals and Davis will dish tons of assists…but both would give a major body part to help the USMNT qualify for World Cup 🙂

  7. So over it. Time to start from scratch. Work-rate style.

    4-3-3 (Subs listed below)


    – Only 3 holdovers from Honduras (Bradley, Cameron, Howard)
    – Castillo gets a nod for his work and quickness
    – Zusi gets subbed after 60+ for Gatt.
    Shea comes on for Herculez in the 80th minute
    – Feilhaber is spelled by
    Agudelo and moved up front w/ Dempsey in stoppage time
    – Win.

    • I think Fabian is the only German that should get another shot. Jones has been pretty good but I’m ready to move on. So long Williams and Chandler. Their hearts aren’t in it. My dream lineup by June qualifiers:

      • Dolo just got scoped. I doubt he will be back by June. Give Parkhurst another whirl. He did great in the UCL for Nordjasleelelldllaldldkannd

  8. pretty fair ratings. i agree with everyone that edu should have started over williams. i like williams, but edu seemed like the obvious choice for this game. the gonzalez thing certainly came back to bite him in the ass, but if it had worked out, we’d all be saying, “told you not to start boca.” either way, i do agree that this was not the right game for him to start in. i would have like to seen boca start.

    at the end of the day, the US got lucky because both other games ended in ties. but it still means a must-win against CR at home.

  9. Well, this team is what it is. There isn’t a magic American Messi to select from with this group. Just qualify for the World Cup before thinking about doing great there…..

  10. I personally don’t feel that Chandler earned the right to start against Costa Rica, and a case could be made that he does not even deserve to be called up. If Eric Lichaj would be called into camp and put in a horror performance like Chandler, you can sure Klinsmann would not be calling him up a second time. But Klinsmann loves Chandler and chances are he will be starting against Costa Rica. I just hope Chandler can get the lead out of butt and do a better job of defending and take some offensive initiative. But I am doubtful that he will.

    • I’ve seen better from Chandler, he might just be in a slump. Being in Germany, not as hot, might have detered his game yesterday.

  11. I dont need to be in the locker room to see what’s going on, good or bad. What is very clear, this team nor the coach was prepared to handle this game, in the environment, tactics, flow of the game, and do what needed to be done.

    What the coach needs to realize, is that the experimentation process is over, this is about going to world cup. Does the Honduras coach know for sure that this is the team he wants? How about Jamaica, Mexico? Could be Yes or NO, You be the judge. Jurgen questionable lineup decisions and substitutions were simply guesses of what he thought would work, but wasn’t proven before in a real game together. In order to have find confidence, you must be competent in knowing what you’re doing, alot of the players had neither, weren’t ready. And they went back to their old habits. But the good thing, is that they got of their comfort zone and struggled, in order to succeed you must struggle.

  12. “TIMMY CHANDLER- (3.5). His cap-tying experience will be one to forget as he, much like Johnson, looked a step slow and out of his element. Beaten repeatedly and offered nothing getting forward.”
    He was as bad as a player could possibly be. Used over and over again (Even before the meg). 3.5 is too high. 2 would be generous.

    “DANNY WILLIAMS- (3). Worst player on the field. Had very little impact on the game, and was flat out overrun by Honduran midfielders. He made everybody’s job harder and it is extremely difficult to see him starting games come March.”
    It was hard to see him starting games after that Russia debacle, yet there he was, starting again even though he can’t play for his club team.

    “JURGEN KLINSMANN- (3). All of his important lineup decisions failed him. Gonzalez over Carlos Bocanegra was clearly a mistake, no matter the motives, and starting Williams over Edu was clearly a distaster. Aside from Edu for Williams, which was a correction of his own mistake, Klinsmann’s substitutions didn’t really turn the tide.”
    The US has been playing like this since he took over. The first game against Mexico was some of the worst soccer I have seen from us in the 20 years I have been following the team. His big results against Mexico and Italy were terrible games. We played awful, but they didn’t punish us for it. Then, there is the last round of qualifying, were we had troubles with Antigua. He has had more than enough time to create his team, and it is clear his team is no good, and probably will not qualify for the World Cup.

    • Ha ha ha! Oh wait, you’re serious? One bad game and now they’re not even going to qualify? My favorite thing about this loss is the all the “sky is falling” people coming out of the woodwork.
      These are the same people that’ll be predicting the US winning the World Cup if we play well against Costa Rica.
      Calm down people. The US is neither good enough to dominate all through qualification, nor bad enough to fail to qualify.

  13. Maybe Klinsmann is spending too much time on fitness so the team is exhausted by the time the game starts….the guys have been looking flat and exhausted since last year…..maybe this is what lahm meant….

    • exactly. these ratings and commentary are off. first of all questioning williams vs edu is ignoring the elephant in the room of 3 defensive minded mids. bradley had a terrible game though came on a little bit late. another thing, theres no way zusi should have a higher rating than eddie johnson. ej was one of the only us players i saw beating any one off the dribble. Zusi did NOTHING. contributed nothing. cameron sucked just as much as gonzalez did he shouldnt have a higher rating than gonzalelz. both sucked. every defender sucked, but cameron wasnt a full point better than gonzo, sorry. also altidore didnt do anything but considering how reliant his performance is on the rest of the team, he shouldnt get a lower rating than the midfiled who gave him nothing to work with. lastly, tim howrd messed up on the last goal he shouldnt be so much higher than everyone else.

  14. 2nd Honduras goal is just a complete disaster all around. Cameron somehow loses a 10 yard race with a 5 yard head start, Howard comes for the ball and doesn’t get there, and Gonzalez appears to assume he can casually jog over and clear the ball away in front of a gaping net, because of course there will be no Honduran player in the neighborhood. So bad.

  15. I know it’s not as big as the Landon debate, as Landon would have added more offense and veteran presence. I wonder if Chris Pontius would have made this roster from the January camp if he hadn’t pulled out with an injury. He can provide width offensively. But I guess it’s another “what if” obviously. Hopefully some clearer answers to fixing any problems can come soon.

  16. We need to employe a 4-4-2, or in my opinion, a 4-2-3-1. There is plenty of attacking thrust in a 4-2-3-1. Chelsea comes to mind when thinking of a team that employs it well.


    • Jones and Bradley as a Defensive Midfield pair is a great idea in a 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 (box midfield). Jones and Bradley in a diamond midfield has been tried a few times, but Bradley just not get forward enough to make that work. In a diamond midfield a playmaker type needs to be in front of the defensive midfielder ( a good passer). I am thinking Dempsey, but I like Dempsey playing as a poacher/forward (Dempsey just scores and needs to play near the net). If Klinnsman and everybody else thinks we have no wingers (I disagree) then we can go to a box midfield with two attacking midfielders in front of Jones and Bradley. Who would be those two attacking midfielders?

  17. Trapattoni:
    A good manager makes a team 10% better and a bad manager makes it 30% worse.

    JK’s lineup did not make the team better.

    1. Not enough has been said about the omission of Herc. Gomez. He has been playing and playing well in weather conditions similar to those of last night. His running/hustle and nose for goal would have been a big plus.
    2. Has Cameron ever played left center back? Given how few reps he has had at right center back, to put him out there as the “experienced one” of the back four is a bit of a joke.
    3. To my knowledge the German-American rookies, Williams, Chandler, and F. Johnson, have never played a meaningful match in the kind of weather-plus-crowd conditions that they encountered last night. All three of them wilted (Jones was not far behind) and JK should have been prepared for this. Williams in particular seemed a very bad choice.

    Klinsman is looking to take the US team to the next level. The fact is, however, our talent pool is limited and Klinsman has to be careful that the next level is not “down-one.”

  18. Tactics are always a debate, but the only bad decision was starting Eddie Johnson instead of Zusi or some other offensive minded mid in a spot screaming for that type of player with Dempsey up top. Everything else was bad performance and execution. Williams is the only player who moves into the questionable category (Jones should move there). Chandler and everyone else get a pass this time but not next time. US got lucky that everyone else tied. A (must) win against Costa Rica rights the ship, and Mexico is the real test of what we have going into 2014. Whatever doesn’t work after the next two games needs to go.

  19. All this talk about field conditions, weather conditions, environmental conditions, whatever…there is an opponent on the other bench and other side of the field. Before the game everything is nearly 90% coach and 10% player. On game day it is 90% player and 10% coach. Refer to player and coach ratings from SBI.

  20. I think things will be better in Denver, but Bryan Ruiz and Saborio are going to be a handful.

    Players I could see in the mix for the March qualifiers:

    Lando, Shea, Holden, Feilhaber, Corona, Boyd, Agudelo

    • How about:


      • hey, Dream. I agree, at this late stage the team starting line-up needs a major shake up. I like to see Castillo get a start over Johnson and Jozy pulled from the line-up and two d-mids playing as holding midfielders. So yeah, nice post

        By the way, I have feeling you normally post here under a different name (I think I know which name you normally use). Why didn’t you post under your usual name? Were you afraid of getting torched or something by a couple of jerks? If so, do not understand.

  21. Pretty much agree with everything here. Bradley and Edu were the only players who showed anything. (I single out Edu specifically for praise. If anyone on the team had an excuse to look rusty it was him, but he looked as sharp as anyone out there.) Jones and Dempsey connected for one moment of class, but take that away and they offered nothing. Zusi looked eager but ineffective. Howard made some nice saves (which we’ve come to expect), but shares the blame for Honduras’ winner.

    Just a pathetic showing. Klinsmann has rightly been criticized for his selections, but the players who were out there looked lethargic and disinterested. A shameful performance all around.

  22. Might have to bring in Beasley for the March game as a LMF. Fabian Johnson needs to play LMF or as a ‘playmaker’ in front of Bradley or Jones. Might have to play Dempsey as a RMF. Klinnsman needs to stop talking about players playing regular minutes for there club, striving for success, and then putting Danny Williams in the game. Otherwise Klinnsman is only playing lip service politics. We need players playing in there correct positions. Make the formation based on the players you have. If you have 3 Defensive Midfielders and no proper formation for 3 Defensive Midfielders then the formation really needs to be looked at because at least 2 should be sitting.. A 4-3-3 requires a very offensive minded line-up and not 3 Defensive Midfielders making up your midfield. Soccer 101 basics. This is not the first time this has happened. JK has been a repeat offender. He WILL do this again. We have Beasley, a GAM, who can play on the wing. Who would be the other winger on the right (count Donovan out). The personnel ARE available, like a resource, but that resource is not being utilized, and only the coaching staff can answer that.

    • When Klinnsman talks about creating chances, but does not employ those players who do it best in the player pool, I do not buy into what he says anymore.

    • If Beasley still had it, don’t you think JK would call him in? The man is no dummy. He sees what all of us see (serious lack of wing play and creativity). If we had the players, I think he would call them in.

      • so Amy, I love your posts, but do really think it’s better to have JJ out htere instead of Bedoya/Benny so Williams can play the destroyer role? Even Zusi is a better choice don’t you think?

        or on the other side you could play Davis and still slide JJ in for Williams, and create some width. I think i’ts JK’s choice to play this way, wanting Johnson and Chandler to charge forward, but that is asking alot from their legs

      • Beasley still does have it as well as lots of other players not being called in. Some players need to be consistent on there club team. I understand that and respect that. Some how this does not apply to Danny Williams…I’m not saying Danny Williams is a bad player..players get hot and cold..he is cold recently with his club team, but he plays in a WCQ? Trying to figure out the logic and what kind of system is on Klinnsman’s mind. Do we have world class players on D, MF, and F? We have some world class defenders, MF, and Forwards, but not the whole roster. Jose Torres would have been outstanding on the LW, but not playing at Jermaine Jones Defensive Midfield spot. Jermaine Jones is not a wing player. Michael Bradley is not a forward. Jozy Altidore is not a defender. For argument sake looking at Beasley and Torres in the same position: Beasley is World Cup, Gold Cup, WCQ battle tested. Beasley is faster than Torres with the ball at his feet. The USMNT should not be involved with player development…I have posted this as often as I can…the USMNT should be utilizing finished products with the intent of tournament play.

  23. I don’t have BeIn Sport and didn’t see the game, so have no comment on the player grades. But it sounds to me that the grade for the coach is exactly right.


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