Top Stories

USA 4, Germany 3: SBI Player Grades

USA Starting Eleven

Photo by


How you see at the U.S. Men’s National Team’s recent 4-3 win vs. Germany depends on several factors. Do you consider the fact it was a Germany B team? Do you not put much weight into Germany’s final two goals and look more at the 4-1 scoreline before the late German rally? Do you give match added weight because of the contrast from last Wednesday’s performance vs. Belgium?

What can’t be argued, unless you’re just supremely cynical, is that the Americans as a team enjoyed a good match. The German team on the field at RFK Stadium had more than enough talent to mount a strong challenge and the Americans took it to them for a majority of the match. Ultimately, the result itself doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that several American players stepped up with strong outings in a match they needed to play well in.

At the top of that list was Jozy Altidore, who snapped an 18-month USMNT scoring drought and not only did he score a goal, he turned in a strong overall performance.

Another player who made the most of his chance on Sunday was Brad Evans, who looked every bit like a viable starting right back by defending well and providing quality service from the wing.

Not every player delivered on Sunday. Omar Gonzalez struggled for the second straight match, but both he and Jurgen Klinsmann appear to be chalking up the struggles to growing pains at the starting centerback role and it doesn’t look like Gonzalez will be losing that spot just yet.

How did the rest of the USMNT do on Sunday? Here is a closer look at SBI’s Player Grades for the U.S. 4-3 win vs. Germany:



Beaten to his near post on Germany’s second goal, but was screened on the third goal, which forced him to parry it away late and give up a rebound. Not his best game, but not nearly as bad as some suggest.


Worked well defensively and provided quality passing out of the back. Played with confidence and didn’t look like a newcomer to the first-choice defense. Did cost himself a bit by falling asleep on Germany’s third goal and letting his man ghost in for the rebound finish.


Had some bad plays but overall a solid showing. Needed to do a better job of blocking initial shot on Germany’s third goal, but broke up several German sequences and made a strong case to start vs. Germany.


Another forgettable match for Gonzalez, who was directly involved on two of Germany’s goals. Beaten in the air on the first and gave up too much space for the shot on the second. Jurgen Klinsmann is preaching patience with Gonzalez, but anything short of a strong performance against Jamaica (assuming he starts) is likely to send him to the bench.


Beaten early on by Schurrle, but recovered well and had a steady match throughout. Picked his spots well to get forward and defended solidly. Looks every bit like the choice to start at left back vs. Jamaica.


His pin-point cross on Jozy Altidore’s opening goal was quality and he was active throughout, delivering good service and partnering well with Evans on the right flank.


One of his best games as a national team player. Not only did he do well to close down space for the Germans in central midfield, he was also very involved in the attack. His passes helped start the sequences on two goals and his pressuring of the German defense helped lead to their own goal.


The rock in the middle for the U.S., Bradley was a stabilizing force for the Americans, providing an outlet for teammates and constantly pressing Germany’s central midfield. It was a quiet performance, but by all means a strong one.


Only played a half but during that half he was a threat on the left and his speed on the flank helped provide some balance to the U.S. attack.


Another star performance for Dempsey, who delivered a pair of quality finishes to become the second all-time leading USMNT scorer.


A real handful all day for the Germans, Altidore was active from the very start of the match and he took full advantage of finally receiving some good service from the U.S. midfield. Delivered the type of match that should give him plenty of confidence heading into Friday’s qualifier vs. Jamaica.


Not quite as strong a showing as vs. Belgium, but Johnson did provide some pace on the wing and tried taking defenders on when he could.


Quietly turned in a steady showing on the left wing in place of Fabian Johnson. His service on corner kicks was dangerous and he passed the ball well overall. Looks capable if he’s called on to start vs. Jamaica.


Not a memorable day for Castillo, but it should be noted that he arrived at RFK Stadium over the weekend after playing a tough Copa Libertadores match in Brazil. Looked a step slow and his slack defending cost the U.S. on Germany’s third goal.


Didn’t play enough to merit a full grade, but was clearly trying too hard against his birth nation. It’s safe to say he will dribble to the corner flag the next time he has the ball in the final minutes with his team up a goal.


What do you think of the grades? Which player impressed or surprised you the most? Which player left you disappointed?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I long for the days of steady Eddie Pope after watching our defense these past couple of games. I’m just not sold on this new crop of guys yet. Hoping one of these young centerbacks comes good very soon and forces his way into the player pool as the current crop is underwhelming…

  2. Another factor you neglected to mention. You really don’t know what a home friendly against a European team at this time of the year actually means. Case in point: the Scotland game last year.

  3. Here’s a question for debate: Dempsey had a great individual game, and I know that televised soccer rarely shows the off-the-ball work. I love the Duece Face™ and his energy and his ability to score the Big Goal.
    Does Dempsey make his team better? I mean the way an Iniesta or a Xavi or a Mata or — dare I say it? —a Donovan does?
    Second question: Does he need to?

    Also, not enough love for Zusi for that amazing first-time cross to Altidore. The degree of difficulty for Altidore was high, and he deserves all the credit on the volley. But when was the last time you saw a USMNT first-time cross that was even in the vicinity of a US striker?

    • No – Dempsey doesn’t make his team better the same way those players you mentioned do. He makes his team better by scoring/poaching important goals at important moments. Plus, while Dempsey’s never been a “playmaker” or set-up man like the ones you described (even Donovan), he does create space and opportunities for his teammates more than he is given credit for.

      As for Zusi, the cross was beautiful and his work-rate is unquestionable, but he seems to lack the pace and ability to take players one on one that would take him to the next level (ie playing in one of the big four leagues or being truly stand-out at the international level on a consistent basis).

      • Yeah that assist helped ease some of my complaints, by when Donovan was starting he was creating far more chances and making passes like that more than once a game. Not to mention we didnt have to short corner either with Donovan.

    • When he’s paired up top with Jozy I think he makes him better, but perhaps that is a function of Jozy playing better for the Nats when ‘s got a partner up top and not a specific result of Clint making him better

  4. Howard is never as good as we like to believe. He was caught in no-man’s land for the winning goal from Ghana in WCup 2010. He just happens to be the best American Keeper, and not by much. He’s getting to the point in his career where it is his job to lose, but that is not the same as saying it is his job. All that being said, I think he did better than a 5, should have been a 7. That is a “C” right? We gave Germany many quality looks at goal whether some of them went wide or were blown offside, it was Howard who stared down some of the best in the world.

    My only other critique is Bradley. I love the guy and also appreciate the quiet work of a good midfielder. In fact one of his best moves was to do nothing and let Altidore’s chip sail over him to Dempsey. But he looked tired on a couple sequences and his stamina will need to improve in Concacaf. We don’t want to go from being the team that always gives up early goals to the team that always gives up late goals.

    • I happen to agree with you that Howard is a smidge overrated at this point. But it is SO hard to assess keepers sometimes because so much of the position is heading off problems with positioning and communication. Also, a lot of errors don’t lead to goals and thus are forgiven/forgotten quickly where as circus saves and clear gaffes are remembered forever. It’s just a tough science.

      Regarding MB, I don’t think the dude ever gets tired actually and I don’t think he was so on Sunday…I think he was very, very conservative. But that’s just my two cents.

    • Howard can stuff a 1v1 with the best of them, but his mental game in the fray leaves a lot to be desired. Coming off when he shouldn’t, not coming up when he should, trying to smother when he should punch, punching when he should direct up and over… I’ve said for a while I think that the GK and 2 CBs are essentially one position and should be evaluated as such. Howard was the #1 when our CBs were Gooch and Bocanegra, but Guzan seems to work a lot better at communicating with Gonzo and Besler. In my opinion, Howard is now behind Guzan, and if Friedel comes out of retirement he’d be 3rd.

      • Kasey Keller was quoted on G dot com saying nice things about Guzan, which could be interpreted to mean that he thinks Guzan is better. I thought Guzan was fantastic against Mexico, and he was clearly the boss of the defense.

      • Agreed. He moved clear ahead of Howard with that performance in my eyes. He’s easily the better communicator of the two. Guzan directs traffic and keeps his line alert, Howard just yells a lot.

  5. Glad to see Johnson get some minutes at LM. If Beasley and Castillo can keep filling in at left back, it would be great to keep playing Johnson in the midfield.

  6. 1. When did warm weather become an excuse for not playing well? I think that’s a lame excuse generally, but particularly when you play on a team that has qualifiers in Central America…

    2. I still don’t get why Lalas kept saying Chandler wasn’t an option “because he doesn’t want to get on a plane” – I thought he was recovering from a knee injury… does anyone know the answer to this?

    • If by warm you mean sweltering. I think its the way one’s body feels when going from cool-to-cold weather…From personal experience, its quite draining…and the humidity makes you feel like your breathing through coffee straws.

      • I hear you. I’ve played in 80-90 degree weather with very high humidity level many times – I agree, it’s stifling and does impact you. My point was that (a) it shouldn’t affect the best players in the country as much as an average joe bc their conditioning is incredible (b) it actually didn’t affect all off the players that much bc some of them were still running hard the entire game and (c) if it does affect any of our players to the point that they really can’t perform at that level when it’s hot out, we can’t carry that weak link through qualifiers played in this part of the world or at a tournament scheduled for next summer in Brazil.

        And – I still wonder why Alexi Lalas was insinuating that Chandler’s absence from this camp was bc he still isn’t committed…anyone have any insight on that at all? Ives???

      • There has been some talk that Chandler is afraid of flying. In a interview with him from May 23rd, he admitted to not liking airplane flights – especially longer ones.

    • Chandler recently gave an interview where he talked about his major issues with flying.. can’t remember where I read it but it sounded like his dedication to the US was never an issue, but the fear of being on a plane for more than an hour or so was the killer.. I think that’s why you detected a hint of sarcasm in big red’s voice

      • Wait, what? Why are we wasting our time on a guy who won’t get on a plane? How does he expect to get to Brazil? He’s got about 500,000% more chance of dying if he goes by boat.

  7. Davis was TERRIBLE. I don’t get him at all and I think he shouldn’t be playing. His corner kicks don’t make up for his lack of vision and pace on the run of play. Johnson should start over him every single day of those are our options. Zusi was good but Johnson was just better in my eyes, his pace helped stretch their backline and gave Jozy space to operate.

    • Holden and Donovan will battle for spots, and both have a shot at this spot as well. Shea has the quality to challenge for a spot.

      Frankly, I still want competition for all spots in the midfield for a few more months. I know Bradley makes good decisions, but his athletic ability is average. Jones is still wild and prone to loose balls and yellow cards (although a good performance yesterday), F. Johnson is still unproven (basically I still don’t know what he’s capable of). Zusi is looking good, but it’s not like he’s at a different technical level.

      Someone can still break into that midfield, and when considering injuries I would expect 7 players get time during qualifying, and midfield changes in Brazil from game to game.

      • Bradley needs to be in there as the foundation of the midfield. We can’t string togather much possession against good teams without him. He and Jones are the in-form best right now. Holden has a shot of he can avoid the bloody tackles.

      • ” I know Bradley makes good decisions, but his athletic ability is average. ”

        Really ? We’re back to looking for more athletic players ? We’ve gone a LONG time relying on players with tons of athletic ability who didn’t have the technical skill or tactical acumen to play our way out of a cardboard box. Maybe now it’s just time to enjoy Bradley’s composure, vision, and tenacity on defense before we try to plug a more athletic player in there.

        I know competition is healthy and good… I just don’t see anyone in the pool of players who can currently push Bradley for his position. That, and athletic ability ain’t everything in this game. Take a look at Andrea Pirlo, he has such an influence in games seemingly without ever having to sprint.

  8. I’m in total agreement with Ivez re Gonzo. His best (and less obvious point) is Gonzo’s understanding of space and knowing when to step up or drop. He’s quite slow-footed when it comes to accelerating / decelerating and his first touch is awful. I think the International game is just too fast for him. Besler on the other hand reads the game much better, has touch / distribution and is quite quick. Pairing him with Cameron as this point makes a lot of sense.

    • If a team wants to hoof it like Mexico was, Gonzo is fine. If a team wants to play the ball around and run at us, less so. I think a snow game plus a weird Mexico crossing attack suited him but I don’t know if a fast game on a normal day on snow-free grass suits him the same.

      So you either need to use him when the style is favorable, or find someone more quality and versatile.

      You’re not going to get much of an argument from me about playing more athletic backs.

  9. I remember when Ives was touting Gonzalez over at fox soccer, but it seems he is experiencing either a dip in form or inadequacy at the international level. Either way, I hope he keeps learning and trying because he could be a great center back for us.

  10. Howard .- 5 Really do much.

    Evans 5. Evans held OK against strong B team.

    Besler 4.5. Had a bit problems with Germans, but Besler won some.

    Gonzalez 4. Very poor losing duels, especially headers, and seem unfocus.

    Beasley 5. Beasley tried keep up German, won some and lost some.

    Bradley 6.5. Kept control of tempo, pressure the German, and knew what to do.

    Jones 7. A true warrior heart and leadership, pressure and knew when to foul, and gave some attack.

    Zusi 6.5. Beautiful cross to Altidore, pressure the German and knew recover in the attack.

    Johnson 7. Creative force and great defensive force, Johnso showed no mercy to his “fatherland”.

    Dempsey 6.5. Demspey wasn’t much factor in first half, but second half Demspey woke up the attack and willing take shots.

    Altidore 7. 5 Hussle and muscle to German defenders, creative beatiful goal, got so many fouls, and scored a beauty of a goal. My MVP.

    Davis 5.5 Knew how combine well with teamates, knew how kill time.

    Johnson 5.5 Ditto as Davis

    Castillo 3.5 Castillo overlap with intellgence in the attack, but was destroyed by Sam and primary reason Germans had their comeback.

    Boyd 5. Tried scored andkep Germans busy. Yes, I disagree with Boyd not willing going look for a corner.

  11. The only grade I find to be baffeling is that of Brad Davis. I would have placed him at more of a 4-4.5. As a wide midfielder he just was not threatening with either his passes or crosses. His lack of speed and defensive coverage contributed to many of the German attacks in the 2nd half.

  12. It’s funny the big fuss in a friendly about Boyd not going to the corner flag. Obviously you want toe develop good habits and sure, bring it up in the locker room and make it clear that in a real game that would be grounds for dismissal…but in a friendly? Whatever.

    • At 4-1, I might agree. But at 4-3, when the team is hot, tired, and “on the back foot”: close the game down.

      But when you come on as a sub -even, if it’s for 5 minutes- that’s your 90 minutes. I would’t want to spend that time making bad tactical decisions.

    • Speaking as a Terrence Boyd fan, I felt he was way over the top when he came into the game Sunday, looked out-of-control. Did not strike me as professional. Can you imagine MB or Clint or Jozy doing that? Or actually anyone else on the team. And Terrence did the same thing last year in another game when he came in late, cannot remember off hand which one, maybe Italy. One time, okay. But a second time should not happen. And, actually, this appearance Sunday was worse than a year ago.

    • I took Dempsey’s tirade as, “Why didn’t you give me the ball?!” Boyd and Dempsey were on a 2 v 1 and instead of laying Dempsey through, Boyd slowed down the play then took a horrible shot. If he had picked up his head and saw the wide-open Dempsey, he could have given him the hat-trick.

      Dempsey was still yelling at Boyd as they walked down the tunnel.

      • yeah, a writer at the Disney owned sports empire saw that exchange the same way as you did. I wasn’t sure. In either case, my feeling was that it was a bit over the top. (not as much over the top as TBoyd’s shot of course).


      • I thought I saw Dempsey gesturing to the corner when he was initially yelling at Boyd but I could be wrong.

      • yeah, I do remember that but I wasn’t sure what he was waving at: the corner or where he wanted the pass. Ah well, it’s over

      • Obviously Boyd was trying hard to show he deserves more playing time and he simply got carried away and put himself ahead of the team. The second shot was not good shot selection at all and made him appear selfish. As I said above, if this would have been the first time, fine. But he did this before and I would be very reluctant at this point to give him a chance in a crucial situation.

    • i think the fuss was because it seemed obvious that he was putting his personal goals (no pun intended) over those of the team.

      the team needed to run off the clock, not take a speculative shot. and when all you get is a couple-minute cameo, it’s important that you make the right decision.

      in any case, i kind of agree that it’s been overblown; not because it’s a friendly, but because he’s still young, and it was a good learning experience for him.

    • I agree. Moreover, usually those “take it to the corner flag” moves result in giving up the ball within 5 or 6 seconds. One of the most hideous plays in soccer.

  13. Castillo indeed looked bad defending. He does look good, however, on the ball, and I wonder why he shouldn’t be added to the list of guys that can play left winger. Given the relative mediocrity of anyone there, and given that he’s played there as a pro, I’d like to see him tried there if Fabian can’t play for some reason…

    • I agree he should be considered for Left Wing as well. However, he should also be considered for LB. After he is fully rested and has a chance to practice with the rest of the defense he may perform alot better.

    • @Cairo: I agree. Castillo, was rock solid whenever he moved into attack mode, excellent ball skills with crisp passing and a cross in the box and even did some 1-on-1 attacking. If you compare Castillo’s and Johnson’s offensive performances on Sunday, Castillo was the winner. Johnson was flat. Not bad, but flat. And I will say it again for the millionth time, why after we finally found a very solid left back in Fabian Johnson do we want to turn him into a left winger and move left winger DMB (all 88 pounds of him) to left back. I don’t get it I think it is a major mistake. And after learning that Castillo is playing LW for his club, I would love to see him at LW for the USMNT with Fabian behind him.

      • castillo has played very sparingly at LW for Xolos. the last 4-5 games I’ve watched, including the two recent CL games, he was at LB. Xolos has him listed as a defender on their website.

      • yeah. Did not mean that Castillo is playing full time at left wing for club, just that the club has been regularly playing him in that position. Fabian also is not playing full-time at left wing for Hoffenheim and I expect him to return to his strongest position, left back, for Hoeffenheim this August. Yes, it is possible Hoffenheim brings in a new left back and puts Fabian full time at left wing. But I would be surprised. I think they rather will bring in some new attacking talent.

      • I’ll tell you what, I love that we have this problem. We have no idea who to start between Castillo, Johnson, and Beasley. And when Shea is back, and assuming playing well, he just makes it even more complicated.

        i think no matter what happens at the club level, we see johnson/beasley making up the left side for the rest of the hex…bar some spectacular change in form from someone else.

      • I’ll tell you what, I love that we have this problem. We have no idea who to start between Castillo, Johnson, and Beasley. And when Shea is back, and a$$uming playing well, he just makes it even more complicated.

        i think no matter what happens at the club level, we see johnson/beasley making up the left side for the rest of the hex…bar some spectacular change in form from someone else.

  14. Just curious, will we ever see a 10? For example, what does Deuce have to do to score higher than an 8 (that’s a B, I think)? Hat trick? Double brace? Scorpion? Olimpico?

    • I mean, shouldn’t a ten be reserved for “that was one of the single best games I’ve ever seen an individual play”? And while Dempsey’s performance was very good, it certainly didn’t rise to that level.

      I wouldn’t compare a 1-10 scare to to 0-100% scale that goes into A-F academic grading. I don’t think Ives is claiming that 6 of our players received failing grades, which would be the conclusion that comparison would lead to.

    • The rating system has this unspoken convention. The real scale is not 1-10 but 3-9 for all practical purposes and it is something of a bell shaped distribution also. You rarely see 3s or 9s, 3.5 and 8.5 are slightly more common, all the way to the center.

    • 10 means world-class…to get a 10 I would think you would either need to have an absolutely ridiculous day offensively (I’m thinking Falcao with 5 goals or Lewandowski with 4 goals) and also not create any blunders defensively.

      Not sure if a 10 for a defender / keeper is possible; unless it would be a clean sheet with multiple highlight-reel saves/defenses.

      • Kasey Keller vs. Brazil could be called a 10, though I think a trophy has to be on the line for a keeper to earn a 10. For a player, a hat-trick in an overall quality performance can do it, but again, tough to give a perfect 10 for a performance in a friendly.

    • I have only ever seen a single 10 in my life at that came for none other than Lionel Messi when he scored 5 goals in a single game against Bayer Leverkeusen.

  15. I agree with the ratings generally, however… the U.S. defense gave up 3 goals from the run of play+the Mertesacker whiff+the Schurrle deke of Beasley and Besler+several quality chances in the second half…I don’t know how the defensive ratings could as high as 6.5/5.5/4/6- seems like everyone needs to be taken down another notch or two across the board-someone is at fault for giving up that many clear cut scoring chances from both the flanks and the center. If “one mistake” equals a goal from each defender, that is four goals-not going to win too many games that way, so even one mistake is very costly

    Based on the last week’s worth of performances, I think that it is safe to say the defense is in disarray… 7 goals in 2 games, with plenty of other scoring chances given up….and I don’t want to hear the excuse about the quality of the opponent- we are not going to be playing the likes of Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica in the World Cup…..and for comparison’s sake, US gave up 1 goal to Belgium on the road under Klinsmann in 2011-so the defense has taken two steps back from the beginning of his regime…

    Ex the two potential penalties, the defense in Mexico was a bout as good as it has been in a long time, but guess what, Jamaica held MX to a scoreless draw as well, so mexico isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire right now, our nighmares of 09 and 11 Gold Cup Finals aside

  16. Clint and Jozy definitely best on a day when most of they guys put in good performances. And Jermaine Jones was not far behind and was definitely on this day ahead of Michael Bradley, who had a good day but nonetheless was a notch or two below the level of Jones. Zusi also was strong, basically at MB’s level or a bit above.

    Agree that Brad Evans was solid and shows potential, but wasn’t he also responsible for a goal? So if we are going to mention Castillo’s goal probably should be fair and mention the one he was responsible for. And, yes, I am a Castillo fan and do not understand the hate toward this guy. But if you look at the usernames, most of it seems to spewing from trolls, not SBI regulars.

    Totally disagree that Fabian Johnson was a threat against Germany. I thought, as do player graders on other sites, that he did not impress, looked uncomfortable with the ball and didn’t really make in good passes that I remember. Some are speculating his bad stems from the heat. Even if he would not have had the apparent hamstring problem, he should have been pulled. I thought Brad Davis looked better than F. Johnson.

    And speaking of Johnson, I liked the way Eddie looked against Germany a lot. I think he can be a real asset to this team.

    And, last, I am gonna stand up again for Omar Gonzalez. I think he is getting a bum rap for this game. Let’s not forget he made some good saves and was being threatened by five potentially dangerous attackers (Podolski, Klose, Schurrle, Draxler and Kruse) on a very hot day, and most of his weakness came late in the game.

    • glad you said that about fabian johnson, because i was thinking i was the only one who got that impression. he wasn’t bad, but he just didn’t look dangerous at all. maybe he was told to focus on tracking back against schurrle, but i didn’t notice that much either.

      maybe he’s not as good an attacker as we thought, and he’s just more dangerous as an overlapping fullback?

      • You’re right, there were no cuts inside that resulted in a shot. He’s not 100%, but there’s a reason the attack worked better in this game- he knows when to pass, when to move, he’s more dynamic.

        I can’t wait for him to get back to his best.

    • It was a hot day and he was not having a good game and, IMO, deserved to be pulled anyway. I would bet 25 cents he will be playing Friday, and I hope at LB, which I think is his best position and where we need him.

      • I don’t think he was playing poorly at all. It was a more quiet outing than we are used to seeing from him but his off the ball movement was still fantastic. He is by far our most dynamic left sided player.

      • You are absolutely correct, the unmistakeable Ronaldinho. Poor choice of wording on my part. I agree that Fabian was not bad. He definitely was not making mistakes. Nonetheless, it was an off day for him without much impulse coming from him, not adding much to the attack. IMO he was one of the weakest players on a day when a lot of the guys were having best performances in quite awhile.

      • Agreed on all the FJ love. Does he play mostly back for Hoffenheim or do they use him at wing like we do?

        I haven’t rewatched the game, but I thought his performance was quieter than usual but still effective. Definitely not poor.

      • Most of the season he played LB, but they moved him up to the wing towards the end of the season, where he actually split a good chunk of his time on either the left or the right.

      • LW has always been Fabians best position not LB. He is serviceable at LB just like Beasley. Would rather see Fabian attacking versus defending.

      • He wasn’t at his best- and we still controlled possession more, and were more dynamic in the attack. If he had been on form, one of his cuts inside could easily have been a goal.

        He should start- Davis isn’t good enough, and Eddie is more useful as a speedy substitute. We’ve found our left winger for these qualifiers- let’s watch him round into form.

  17. Run DMB has done well getting back into the mix but we have to develop another option there.

    Every time he goes down (which is a lot) I hold my breath thinking he’s not getting back up.

    (I do that with Dempsey too, but I know he is (usually) doing it to get the refs attention.)

    • Well, we’re moving one option up to use him. But we’re doing so because he’s playing well enough to allow Johnson to scoot up a spot.

      And while I agree that we should be developing backs — the pipeline seems jacked there — it’s the pool’s job to dislodge him. The backline has been a mess and you want to get rid of one of the few playing hard and with some effectiveness? Castillo looked far worse.

      • When/If everyone is healthy there are other options that could have been used/tried at either wing back position. As it stands now the stable of wing backs (IMO) look something like this…
        RB – Dolo, Chandler, F. Johnson, Cameron/Evans/Lichaj, Parkhurst
        LB – F. Johnson, Chandler, Beasley, Lichaj/Castillo, Parkhurst
        The fact that we are currently using (potentially) our 3rd/4th string wing backs and still getting decent production out of them is amazing.
        My concern still remains that Beasley & Castillo are too slight, and can be pushed around by too many of the stronger European and African players; and that Dolo’s age may catch up before too long. However, IF Chandler and Lichaj get back to where they were 2 years ago (Gold Cup for Lichaj….Belguim Game for Chandler) I will feel much more confident about our defense.

      • I don’t know what to think about Chandler. I liked what I saw two years ago but now he’s here and then not here, and when he does play it’s ok but not at that level.

        I would like to see him on his natural right, and I am concerned Dolo is getting too old and may be a Boca/Reyna/Lewis risk.

        I would like to see Lichaj involved but barring a miracle the Gold Cup omit makes that unlikely.

        I think Chandler on his game is on another planet from anyone but Dolo. That solved the issue 2 years ago until he went on sabbatical, which is still continuing on and off. He needs to come back off it. If he comes back and is played right I think that solves one issue.

    • What u said. I’m also concerned about the fact that he still seems to struggle to trap the ball properly. But first things first. Get the man some food!

      • Beasley weighs what 135 pounds? A strong rugged defender he ain’t. Every time he gets pounded, I worry for his health. He gives up 40 to 60 pounds to most attackers and more when the opposing backs come forward on set plays, the shoving match in most of those situations is simply stacked against Beasley. Still I like him and admire his fight and courage, despite the pounding he takes, he does not back down.

    • We haven’t had a consistent quality left back option in quite a while. Don’t get your hopes up that another one will suddenly appear. Beasley has done just fine there in the last few matches and I’m curious to see if he can keep it up long term. At any rate, he is proving to be a quality utility guy who would be very valuable for the 23 man roster next summer

  18. EJ is looking like a great weapon to have off the bench. Can play across the front 3 and forces players to defend by running at them. I like Brad Davis. He is a smart player with a sweet left foot, but unlike EJ he doesn’t challenge defenders. He never runs at the opposition. Receives the ball on the wing, cross if its on, pass it back if its not. There is certainly a time and place to play easy but he just doesn’t seem threatening to any defender. He only strikes me as a guy I’d like to see come on in the last 10 minutes of a match we were winning. I don’t think there’s a place in the 23 for a player like that.

    • I didn’t get it with Davis at first. But he’s the opposite of EJ in a lot of good ways. Less tools, more brain. He’s got a decent bit of vision, which EJ has almost none of. EJ’s speed threatens, especially against lesser sides. Against better teams EJ’s lack of technical ability makes him less useful.

      Davis’ savvy, his ability to keep possession, switch fields, keep the ball moving, fit in nicely with the style Klins is imposing on the team. And he’s a freekick threat. Good on Klins for trying to move away from the athletic, boneheaded speedsters represented by the likes of Findley, EJ, etc.

      I feel like some US fans talk about how we need to change our style of play, play more possession, get more skilled players involved. Well, it’s easy to say that when the choices are players like Dempsey, Donovan, Cherundolo. With those dudes it’s easy to advocate a possession style. But what about when it comes down to a less obvious choice like Brad Davis. Do you want business as usual with EJ?

      And EJ’s not bad. He’ll make some plays, get you some goals, especially against weaker teams. But if the goal is an eventual cup, we gotta decide what kind of team we are.

      • My point is that EJ brings something to the team that not many players do. Pace, direct running, good aerial ability, solid finishing make him a great bench option in certain situations. He is a much improved and much smarter player than he was 5 years ago.

        Davis is a good player. I don’t doubt that one bit. However, I think there are plenty of better players we can plug in to play a nice easy backwards pass while still bringing other qualities to the table. His left foot is nice but with free kicks we have Donovan, Dempsey, Gomez, Zusi who are all pretty solid. Basically I just don’t think Davis brings enough to the table to be a guy in our final 23. EJ has that X factor ability.

      • My point is that EJ brings something to the team that not many players do. Pace, direct running, good aerial ability, solid finishing make him a great bench option in certain situations. He is a much improved and much smarter player than he was 5 years ago.

        Davis is a good player. I don’t doubt that one bit. However, I think there are plenty of better players we can plug in to play a nice easy backwards pa$$ while still bringing other qualities to the table. His left foot is nice but with free kicks we have Donovan, Dempsey, Gomez, Zusi who are all pretty solid. Basically I just don’t think Davis brings enough to the table to be a guy in our final 23. EJ has that X factor ability.

      • I definitely see where you’re coming from. I think we just disagree on EJ’s ceiling. Cheers.

      • I happened to be on his side of the field and I can tell you Davis had a nice game. As he gets more minutes you can see his confidence building.

  19. Omar Gonzales = Jonothan Bornstein 2.0
    Looks like he will get every chance to have a spot under Klinsi Like Bradley did with Bornstein.
    Like Bornstein Gonz will show he is not intl. quality just too slow

    • Bornstein actually had some wheels. But I agree that Gonzo is sufficiently slow where it brings his international suitability into question. And I was a tad flabbergasted when it was like, after two screwup games if he botches another it might impact his starting spot. Failed the test twice but gets to re-take it apparently.

      I know, the reality is that the die on this is cast by the fact Goodson is even worse, and Klinsi is not going to call new people. But there needs to be accountability.

      • I’m not sure its a good coaching tactic to tell your players if they mess up once or twice its straight to the chopping block. Makes you play worried and tight rather than freely. Players need to know their coach has confidence in their ability and once screw up won’t be the end of it. That said, I think Gonzalez has had many screw ups with the US and Galaxy this year. I’m perfectly ok with benching him for Cameron.

      • But I don’t know how you have confidence in someone this up and down. I certainly don’t feel confident about him. And I think at some point player coddling has to give way to accountability and fielding the best XI. It’s not like he hasn’t already had issues against Honduras before….

        And if the point to these games is to test players’ readiness before the real thing, what did we just learn?

      • I don’t have confidence in Gonzalez. Never have. Guy has all the talent but inconsistency at CB is unacceptable. I understand the whole growing pains argument but he has over 100 professional games under his belt already. Its worrying that he still makes so many careless mistakes. 85 minutes of solid defending + 2 big mistakes is not a good game. Like I said, I’m ready to bench him but understand if Klinsmann wanted to give him one more game to get back on track.
        He’s clearly a guy Klinsmann is enamored with and he is going to get every chance to succeed. Others may not have the luxury of making mistakes and getting chances but that’s the coach’s prerogative.

      • CB and keeper are tough positions to play because because your mistakes are fatal. If a midfielder mistimes a header other players can help out or at least there’s not an immediate negative impact. If a CB mistimes a header against a top tier team you’ve given up a goal. Luckily for us, these were practice friendly games.

        Having 100 MLS games doesn’t equate to success or ability to play at the national level. The MLS just isn’t that good and the pace is a lot slower. Any player making that transition needs time.

        Give that you have no confidence in Gonzalez, who would you put into the CB postion? I’m expecting Gonzo to start the next three games and I think it would be disastrous to replace him at this point.

      • Cameron is who I’d replace him with. I’ve got limited faith in all of our CBs. We just don’t have great options there at the moment. Just wanted to make it clear I’m not just picking on Gonzo.
        If he can put together 3 straight good/mistake free games in the upcoming qualifiers than that’s awesome. If he can’t string 3 good games together its time for us to try something else out.

    • He’s young. You get to make mistakes when you’re young. He has the tools to be a world class center back, but if he doesn’t fix his concentration in big moments he’ll be gone.

      Those moments come from experience and in-game scenarios though. Catch-22. The best CBs in the world are beat regularly. If they make mistakes on the regular, it’s not far-fetched to assume a growing player won’t make more.

    • He’s young. You get to make mistakes when you’re young. He has the tools to be a world cl@ss center back, but if he doesn’t fix his concentration in big moments he’ll be gone.

      Those moments come from experience and in-game scenarios though. Catch-22. The best CBs in the world are beat regularly. If they make mistakes on the regular, it’s not far-fetched to assume a growing player won’t make more.

      • Man you guys are super-critical. The guy is still a kid and missed an important year with a major injury. He is still developing. That is why you play him in these “meaningless” friendlies, to get him seasoned and make him a better player. He only has what 8 caps now? The kid is dominant in the air and has the tools to be a great CB, concentration can be fixed as he matures and grows part of that is playing in big matches. How about Mertesacker getting owned by Jozy all match? Maybe Low should bench him and never start him again too. Never mind the fact that we were playing Germany, and they would probably score 2 or 3 goals on most any team making any CB in the world look foolish….you guys needs to slow down a bit and put it into perspective. Friendlies are for learning and seasoning, now you go into qualifiers and you watch him over the next few matches and club matches to see if he improves/corrects his game.

      • Agreed about Gonzalez. Yes, he needs to get better, but he’s talented and works. Plateaus in development always suck until you break through them.

        Everyone on the defense needs to continue to improve if they are going to have any impact in Brazil. The current performance level they display as a unit is far below what USMNT showed under Bob Bradley in 2009 Confed Cup v Spain, for example, and I’m sure Klinsmann knows this, so it’s not like Gonzalez is the only piece that’s dragging down the defense.

        Friendlies against top European sides are a new level for him, CONCACAF should feel easier to him now.

      • He’s almost 25.

        Nastasic, Varane and Diego Reyes are young CBs. Omar is old enough at this point where you can’t constantly excuse his poor performances with the “awww but he’s young!!!” fan card.

    • If I recall, Bornstein actually stepped when it really counted during the World Cup and was solid in the time he played. So maybe BB wasn’t wrong after all about him (given our options).

      • No one likes to admit this but its absolutely true. He had a pretty solid World Cup. He made plenty of mistakes in his time but was good for us when it mattered most. Unfortunately for Bornstein he is just US fan’s punching bag.

  20. Tim Howard was not ‘beaten at his near post’. Watch the shot again, it is from a central position, near the D. He was anticipating the player trying to bend it far post as he was dribbling across the top of the box. Howard’s defender, Gonzalez (shocker) did not step into the play when he should have. How many chances does Omar get?

    • I don’t think the two explanations are mutually exclusive. Howard was, indeed, “beaten at the near post,” perhaps because, as you suggest, he was leaning left in anticipation of a far-post attempt. That doesn’t absolve Gonzalez; it just explains where the shot went.

      • The shot was in a central area, which means it was to Tim’s right post. I know we hold him to a high standard but he can’t just save everything out there. It’s the fault of Gonzalez, not Howard.

    • I don’t see why Gonzalez is getting the blame on that second goal and not Jones. Gonzalez was chasing but Jones is standing right there and should stepped up and at least made it a harder shot.

      • John – you may be right. I haven’t watched the video since the day of the game after the match.

        Someone put the shooter under pressure. In that area its the responsibility of the second player to pressure as the attacker moves across. That might have been Jones.

  21. It was a good performance—PERIOD and I’m one of those who’s not sold on JK.
    NOW my BIGGEST Issue and it’s not acceptable nor excusable at this level was the amount of space Germany had on every goal. I teach 14 yr olds not to do what Gonzalez did on two of those goals. I would have actually benched him for the first…that’s how BIG of Deal it is IMO.

    I disagree with you entirely on Castillo. He should have been more than ready to go against Germany. He’s still sharp from his season in Liga MX. I’ve never been sold on him and every time I see him play with the Nats, he has yet to give me a reason why he should get a call up. DaMarcus rates much higher than him at that position.

    Having Michael Bradley Back and coupled with Jermaine Jones is such a beautiful thing and when Landon returns (He will) we might see what we’ve been hoping to see for along time from our attack.

    • Teaching is the easy part. I’m pretty sure every forward is taught to shoot at the goal, yet sometimes the ball goes way over the top. Doing is more difficult, especially against one of the best teams in world at the level that you haven’t played at for long with teammates that you haven’t played many games with. In every single game, players make a lot of mistakes and a lot of them are things they know are mistakes. The important thing is to keep the mistakes to a minimum and address weaknesses.

      Benching Gonzalez would have been a bad decision – this was a friendly which is where you learn and can make mistakes – playing time is critical for his growth. Benching him is probably the worst thing to do in this situation. Unless you’re coaching an amateur game where you can make all the subs you want and put players back into the game, replacing a CB is a risky move.

      For the next series of games we’re kind of stuck with him for better for worse. I watch him play for the Galaxy on a regular basis and his presence makes or breaks the team. Many fans and the Galaxy management are open to making him a DP which would be unusual in the MLS. Obviously the MLS is not at the same level as international play and it’s unknown whether Omar can make the transition, but based on his success in the MLS and glimpses of greatness at the International level I think, given time, he will become a solid CB for us.

    • The Germans were also fairly generous with the space they allowed us in the midfield and the way they tracked runners through the box.

      Take away those errors and we might have ended with a 1-0 US win or a 1-1 tie.

  22. If we can figure out the right back situation, is there any chance we can move Cameron back to the center? Pairing him with either Gonzales or Besler could help both of those guys.

    He is a talented player whose biggest fault is being able to help out both club and country by playing multiple positions.

    • I don’t think you can throw another CB in the mix considering how these guys look when paired with different CBs every game. None of them really look comfortable in every game and I think throwing yet another name into the mix continues to confuse it.

      • Makes sense but he was in the mix BEFORE either Gonzales or Besler.

        A CB pairing does need time to gel but I’m not sure we are ready to anoint Gozales and Besler our tandem just yet.

    • I’d modify that and say that by being deployed as a utility guy he lacks a refined sense of each position. He’s an instinctive, aggressive, physical defender but sometimes lacks the subtle stuff, eg, he has trouble holding a line or falling asleep on backdoor runs. Kind of the opposite of Parkhurst, who is all positioning and little physicality.

      I actually do consider the utility thing to be a fault because he’s a little flawed at each position still, which means he is not the standout you need at any one position to seize the spot and end the debate. Jack of all trades master of none.

      I also think people are in dreamland if they believe Evans is the future of the US at RB.

      • I understand your point. But I think -on a club level- it describes the situation of Tim Ream at Bolton. They quickly figured out he was not refined (good?) enough to play CB but saw enough skills in him to try and find him another position. Jonathan Spector at West Ham is another example.

        But Cameron at Stoke stepped right in at CB and held that position. They then started moving him around to cover for lack of depth. Soon he spent so much time plugging holes, he never had to get a chance to get the necessary minutes at one position.

        At least that’s my read.

        But going into a WC, you want/need someone to be playing IN position. If Stoke continues to bounce him around, his NT fate as utility player might be sealed. Shame if so.

      • Ream and Cameron are two very different things. I’m not sold Ream is anything but smoke and mirrors. When he does play for us he gets blown by, and the same guy who’s supposed to be so composed on the ball routinely made the annual MLS blooper reel for giveaways.

        Cameron, on the other hand, is capable of handling a direct attack well. You come right at him all day and he’ll probably stop you. His problem is adjusting to more cerebral, tactical games where teams knock it about and lull you to sleep, keeping track of his man, staying with the other backs, not diving in.

        Oh, I think Cameron will make the 23 for next year perhaps in part because of his utility, because he is pretty darned good at a few places. But if what you’re looking for is a pre-packaged player ready to come in and be a consistent CB for the next decade, or RB or RM for that matter, he’s still to raw.

        You might hope Hughes will leave him put somewhere.

      • Tim Ream, at 25, still has couple more years to go before he can be expected to peak & plateau out for his CD position. He might be smoke and mirrors, but right now as we search for the starting USA central defender, smoke & mirrors is all we’ve got.

      • I don’t think Cameron ever really played CB at Stoke. Didn’t he actually start in the midfield before settling in at RB most of the season?

      • Huth and Shawcross are earnest, solid, dependable and very physical.

        “incredibly high quality”?

        A little over zealous that. You sound like their agent.

  23. Brad Evans rated–for me–at least a 6.5 or 7.

    I don’t think it’s entirely fair to even give Castillo a grade. He played a few days earlier and just got off a 9.5 hour flight.

      • Agree completely. He almost cost us the game single handedly. Got toasted over and over. Like not even close toasted.

      • It was a friendly boys. The point isn’t to win, but to prepare your team for the games that count. Castillo was on the field so that he, Johnson, and Besler could start developing some chemistry. Beasley has been playing over his head, but how long can he keep that up? On his day, Castillo is miles better than Beasley at left back.

      • As far as Castillo “miles better” than Beasley, history shows otherwise. Besides, your argument loses all merit when you say Castillo was in to develop chemistry with Johnson and Besler, considering Johnson had been taken out well before hand.

      • I think the point that he was put in to start developing some chemistry with the team still holds water

      • OA, I take your point, but I can assure you that the chemistry Castillo was marinating in was not positive, so I don’t know if I totally agree with that. I actually think it is as possible that JK did it to expose Castillo to the pace and the speed that he can expect going forward. It’s a “Do I have your attention?” moment if you will.

      • How did he almost single-hand-idly cost us the game? One goal of three came from his position, and that could’ve been blamed on Omar Gonzalez as well.

      • He got beaten several times. Germany just didn’t manage to score on most of those attacks.

      • Players are going to beat our players. It’s just going to happen. Just like our players are going to beat opposing players. Dempsey beat Podalski, and Draxler. Draxler beat Evans, and Beasler. Weatherman beat Jones, and Bradley. Sam beat Castillo. Etc etc

      • Probably just to get experience, in Klinsmann’s eyes, albeit not under optimum circumstances. I think there’s something worth waiting for with Castillo. His accomplishments in Tijuana have real value.

    • Agreed on Evans. Would have gone 7, but he played his part on Germany’s third goal, which took him down a notch.

      As for Castillo, regardless of why he didn’t play well, he took the field so he gets graded on that. I did explain why he probably didn’t play well, but if you take the test, the teacher isn’t changing your grade because you took the test tired.

      • That you did. Do you have a time requirement for how long a player must be on the field to be graded?

        I did think–on a second viewing–that Castillo did well to get forward and seemed energetic and positive in his movement. Have to think that he’ll be more focused and centered with some rest and downtime after the Copa.

      • Evans also had a couple of cheap give aways when passing in the first half in a bad area of the pitch, but Germans did not take advantage.

      • To be fair to him he has never really gotten consistent minutes. A few sub appearances and a rare start all very far spaced apart. That’s a tough way to get comfortable in a team anywhere. He has never really impressed a great deal for us though. Gold Cup would be a great chance to get a good long look at him.

      • I think back at the beginning of the Klinsi era he had a few games, stunk, and then disappeared. He came back from exile beginning with the May 2012 camp and has managed to stay in the pool since. I don’t buy that he’s just never gotten his chance. It’s more like EJ or Jozy where it’s like, what am I getting from him consistently? They play poor, they lose traction and disappear. They play better, they get back in. They revert….etc.

      • given our lack of options on the left I think we are forced to give talented but under performing a few extra chances than they would normally get. That’s just the nature of the US beast. Like I said, I’d like to see him get some consistent quality minutes to see what he really has to offer. All reports from his club play are quite positive.

      • He hasn’t got any significant playing time in the last two years in the USMNT. So if you’re judging performances before that then I agree. However, at that time he wasn’t even starting in the Mexican League. He’s had significant growth since then especially in defending. One game he did start was a friendly against Mexico where he played well.

      • Xolos plays a high-speed, energetic style that is very different from the USMNT. Castillo was tasked with a lot of offensive responsibilities, and did very well beating his man one on one and putting good crosses into the box. At least during the season they won the league, Xolos didn’t mind giving up a few goals if Castillo couldn’t get back on defense, because they were outscoring their opponents. That clearly won’t fly on the USMNT that until this game was having trouble getting any goals. So he’ll need to be more conscientious on defense to make the final cut.

      • I believe USMNT have not given up on playing with high speed energy? Just that they have a whole bunch of team cohesiveness and execution type of issues which they are working through…

      • Watch a Tijuana game – the speed of play is way higher than USMNT. Faster and more accurate passing, faster forwards.

      • Castillo needs to play more. He is (was) outstanding on the Copa L. against the likes of Ronaldhino. You need playing time to “sync” with your back line team mates. I think, given enough time in camp and/or more time on the field, Castillo should be our starting left back.

        Gonzales was but in a very difficult position against Belgium and at certain times in the Germany game, When your formation and backs are out of position, it falls on the center-back to protect the box. When Belgium got free on the wings, and when the US corner backs were out of position, it was pretty much up to Gonzales to try and stop the attack. Of course, he sometimes failed, He took the bait that was offered up and moved out of the box to try and cut of service, but given how much service was to the box and how much the midfielder from Belgium got free with no marking, it was amazing we held them to four goals.

        Germany was a different story, with the US midfield moved up and closer to the forwards (Jozy, and then Jozy and Clint). It was easier to defend the length of the field. Bradly and Jones were the heroes here. The kept the back line from being exposed, got the ball to the wings and forwards and applied great marking up field to prevent route one balls. The own goal was the result of pressure put on the German backline and goal to try and force a long kick and turnover, or a kick out of touch with a resulting turnover. It worked even better than planned with a big mistake by the GK. There was less up field runs from the defensive corner backs as Bradly and Jones were doing a good job in getting the ball up field.

        What was rewarding to me though was finally JK found a winning combination of formation, personnel and tactics.

        Too many chances were taken against Belgium that resulted in the US being burned, but the US scored 2 (TWO) goals against a Euro opponent who gave up only one in it’s last 10 games. Lesson Learned.

        But scoring FOUR against Germany (even a second string) is a real achievement. NOBODY scores that many goals against a very defensive-minded European powerhouse. Kudos f

      • A lot of the US success against Germany has to go to the lack of finishing by the Germans who could have easily converted 3 chances in the first half. Furthermore, defensively the low pressure Germany employed let the US have time to serve balls to the attackers. and perhaps more importantly, it did not attempt to rattle the back 4. It will be surprising if other teams fail to apply pressure to the still inexperienced US back 4. How those guys handle increased pressure will be interesting; the last 30 minutes of the Germany game might be an indication.

    • I think it’s totally fair to grade the performance. I agree it would be unfair to point to this as a particularly meaningful performance for use in evaluating his value, but that doesn’t make it unfair to judge the performance, which was poor.

    • Every game Castillo has played for the USMNT he has been atrocious. Why does anyone continue to give him the benefit of the doubt, because he plays for a Mexican league team?

      • He’s a talented left sided player. Those are in very short supply in the US player pool. That type of player will get more looks than most because of how much it would help if he worked out.

      • And if we’re going to take into account the lower quality defending in the Eredivisie when assessing Jozy, I think we have to recognize that Mexican league defenders are subpar. Thus, a starting Mexican league defender for a championship team isn’t the undoubtable accomplishment some think it is. The Mexican league’s attacking oriented style and generally lower level of defensive play provides some context for Castillo’s accomplishments and talent.

      • “Why does anyone continue to give him the benefit of the doubt?”

        Have you looked into our left back options recently? They consist of:
        1. Fabian Johnson. He also happens to be our most effective left mid.
        2. Demarcus Beasley. As well as he’s played recently, he’s a natural winger, is 31, and isn’t exactly sturdy.
        3. ………………….

        I’d put Eric Lihaj on the list, but apparently he took Klinsmann’s mother out to a nice seafood dinner and never called her again, which is to say he’s apparently not getting a chance any time soon.

        I’d put Timmy Chandler on that list, but he’s apparently afraid of airplanes.

        So that leaves you with Edgar Castillo, who has been playing extremely well at LB for his club. You want to knock Castillo off the list? Fine, who are you going to replace him with? If you look to MLS, you’ve got guys like Cory Ashe, Seth Sinovic and Justin Morrow. I suppose they deserve a shot, but I’m not sold that they’d be any better at the international level than Castillo.

        Basically, Castillo has more upside if he can make it work than the rest of the pack, so he gets more chances.

Leave a Comment