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USMNT 1, Honduras 0: SBI Player Grades

USMNT Starting 11


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SANDY, Utah– The first half was a showcase in frustration, but for the U.S. Men’s National Team, the story of Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory vs. Honduras was the team’s resolve and ability to improve in the second half.

The U.S. attack generated in the second half, and controlled possession throughout the match, while the American defense held firm, and bent while not breaking to post the team’s fourth shutout in six qualifiers.

Jozy Altidore’s evolution as the team’s goal-machine continued, while Fabian Johnson turned in another solid showing on the wing. Graham Zusi and Eddie Johnson provided some quality on the flanks as well, while Clint Dempsey contributed despite playing a relatively quiet match by his lofty standards.

So how did the U.S. players fare individually on Tuesday night? Here are SBI’s USMNT player grades for their 1-0 victory vs. Honduras:


Tim Howard (6.5). Made just one save he needed to make and he commanded the penalty area well. Steady and strong outing.

Brad Evans (6). A better showing than the Panama match, Evans held his own and was never really overrun by Honduras’ speed on the flanks.

Matt Besler (7). Another strong outing for the Sporting KC defender. Had one bad turnover in the first half, which led to Tim Howard’s lone save of the night, but for the most part he handled the ball very well and made defensive plays when called upon.

Omar Gonzalez (5.5). The jitters continue, and his lack of confidence on the ball continues to be apparent, but he limited the costly mistakes of past matches and did make some solid plays. Has he done enough to keep the starting job? Geoff Cameron might be closing ground on him.

Fabian Johnson (7.5). Made a smooth transition back from left wing to left back and enjoyed his best match as a U.S. national team player. Provided consistently sharp service  on the left flank and delivered the assist on Altidore’s game winner.

Graham Zusi (7). A largely ineffective first half was quickly forgotten after turning in one of the best second-half performances on the U.S. team. His mobility, passing and vision helped drive the U.S. attack in the decisive stretch in the second half, and his dummy on the game-winning goal sequence deserves some credit.

Jermaine Jones (5). Wasn’t his strongest game, and he committed some bad turnovers, but he made his presence felt in a very important battle in the midfield. His tenacity and toughness kept Honduras from bossing the middle, but he didn’t exactly play well enough to avoid questions about whether he should be the sure-fire partner to Michael Bradley.

Michael Bradley (7). Another strong effort, including a first-half showing that was the best on the U.S. team. Continues to be a vital fulcrum for the offense, and on a night when Honduras tried to impose their will in the middle, Bradley was an absolute force.

Eddie Johnson (6). In first viewing, Johnson’s showing Tuesday didn’t seem to register much, but a second look at the match revealed plenty of important work from the Sounders star, including one great chance that would have been a goal if not for a great save by Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares.

Clint Dempsey (6.5). A quiet match by Dempsey’s standards, but he stepped up his involvement in the second half, and helped drive the attack with some important passes and chances (including a saved header in the 70th minute). He helped set up the winning goal by finding Fabian Johnson on the left wing.

Jozy Altidore (7.5). Man of the Match, not just for his game-winning goal, but for his effort in pressing Honduras defensively and his work to combine with teammates. A great cap to an outstanding run of games.

Geoff Cameron (6). Very active during his 16 minutes, completing several passes and helping preserve the lead.

Brad Davis (5.5). Wasn’t as active as Cameron during his late cameo, but helped hold the lead with some good plays, including a free kick drawn early in his appearance.

Edgar Castillo (NR). Played just three minutes.

Jurgen Klinsmann (7). The decision to start Jones over Cameron wasn’t exactly validated, but Klinsmann’s decision to play Fabian Johnson on the left wing was clearly a master stroke, as was his decision to go with Graham Zusi again. He subbed in Cameron at a good time to help preserve the lead.


What did you think of our grades? Who do you feel was graded too generously? Who deserved a higher grade?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Gonzo is a calamity. He nearly cost the USMNT the game with his inability to close down Najar any better than he did. He not only took a bad angle to shut down the oncoming attacker – giving Najar a tremendous “pick any corner of the goal to shoot at” look (Any of Spain/Brazil/Germany/Argentina strikers would have finished that opportunity), Gonzo mis-read the speed that Najar was attacking at. And this is after watching Najar play for nearly 40 minutes. Gonzo should have had a better understanding of Najar’s pace by that point in the game. Taking the wrong angle – not what you can have at the international level, especially heading into the WC. Gonzo has to go.

  2. Klinsi has got to go to Cameron over Gonzalez. His errors will kill us against better competition, and I don’t think he can eradicate that problem in less than a year. We’ve already got one inexperienced (but solid) CB in Besler. We can’t go into the World Cup with a Besler-Gonzo tandem. CB is easily the position I’m most concerned about right now.

    I agree with the grades all around, except I think EJ is too high. The issue is not that he didn’t do some good things. The problem is that his lack of defensive awareness makes it really difficult for Fabian to get forward, and that is really unacceptable for this team given Fabian’s attacking talents. It’s no surprise that Fabian was able to get forward much more effectively when Zusi came over to the left, with the goal being the prime example of that.

  3. one thing i never get used to is how people see EJ thru the lens of whether they like him or still hate him from a few years ago. EJ, Clint, and Jozy are all comfy on the ball. they are our triple threat who can play in close quarters and are deadly in the air. we need to figure out a way to keep all three on the field.

  4. I don’t know what you are talking about Ives, you really always seem to be unfairly harsh on Omar. I can’t remember a single time he messed up last night and honestly felt he was better than Besler, not by a lot though. The glaring problems for me were from Eddie Johnson not acting like a midfielder and Jones running up too often exposing our backline.

  5. Cameron really shown class in the midfield, Cameron makes Bradley job easier, and helps flanks feed Altidore better.

  6. Well done. I agree with all of these grades, and your point about Omar Gonzalez is well-taken. Right now everyone is screaming for Jermaine Jones head, which is sort of ridiculous considering that he plays in the Champions League (no doubt these are the same folks who thought we should replace Altidore with Terrence Boyd).

    Anyway, Jones has been up and down (but mostly up) while Gonzalez has been shaky on almost every outing. Might be time to try Besler and Cameron and see what happens…

  7. Three quick points:

    (i) While FJ made that vital contribution on the offensive end, he was nutmegged by Espinoza early on, and if not for EJ’s timely intervention (a foul on which he was lucky to escape a yellow), Howard may have had to get involved. I would have given FJ a 6.5

    (ii) Gonzales made the sort of error USMNT must absolutely cut out when he passed from the sideline towards the middle of our defensive third for Espinoza to run into, causing Jermaine Jones to incur a yellow and giving Honduras a dangerous free kick. I also wish a 6’5” guy would make more of a contribution on set pieces

    (iii) I absolutely love Cameron’s game as a defensive midfielder – the crucial intervention in our own penalty area, the beautiful turn to avoid the defender in midfield to turn pressure into an offensive opportunity – all of that in just 16 minutes of work.

  8. Ives, you are too stingy. Did you live in East Germany during the Cold War? F. Johnson and Zusi were 8.5’s. Howard posted a shut out, so him minimum score should be an 8. Dempsey caused havoc and if him and Evans had scouted out this goalie and gone far post with their headers then they would have been 9’s. I really liked Evans and Zusi when isolated on the flanks 1 v 1 against attackers.

  9. For me, this game truly showed the improvement of Jozy over the last year or so. Previously in games like this he would have drifted out and been a non-factor. Today, he kept working defensively, battling for position, holding up the ball, getting into good spots ect ect. Last year we would have seen Jozy wander around with little to do for 60 minutes and get subbed out. Things are looking up.

    I’m very curious to see how the CBs do in the Gold Cup. I really wouldn’t be shocked to see Onyewu force his way into the conversation with a solid tournament. Gonzo just isn’t convincing for me. I think he had an alright game outside of that one terrible giveaway (Besler was guilty of one too), but he doesn’t really inspire confidence and is a big mistake waiting to happen. I still prefer him to Goodson because of his upside, but I think its time we start to consider our other options. Currently its Cameron, but I’m hoping to see someone step up in the Gold Cup.

    • Very good points. The Gold Cup is going to be an odd tournament. I’m used to seeing a group of younger players trying to force their way into the team– it will be unusual to see established WC vets like Bocanegra, Onyewu, and Donovan essentially having to do this. And with Mexico fielding a below-strength team on account of the Confed Cup, the USA squad should really be favored to win. A lot of pressure on the old guard…

  10. Think Besler is being a bit over ranked here, giving him the same grade as Bradley and Zusi seems off. He was fairly good all night but defenders need to be judged harshly for bad mistakes and boy did he make one on that giveaway to Najar in the first half.

  11. I am really enjoying these conversations on who should start. This tells me have depth and more importantly we have competition driving players to perform better. Love it.

    • I agree. These are great problems to have.

      There will be injuries between now and next summer. You have to assume that some of our top players will not be at their best, if available at all.

      Having three or four players at any given position that understands their role and is willing to give 120% for a full 90 minutes will be make a difference. If we get to a place next April and May where we’re arguing about the best 2 among Holden Bradley Jones and Cameron, (not to mention Edu and the gang) then we’re gonna be in a really good place.

  12. Fabian Johnson at left back against Honduras–I rest my case. This is where FJ should be playing for the USMNT. Ridiculous to have him up in the midfield when he does so well at left back. We have better options at left wing, such as a guy named DaMarcus Beasley. I also think Edgar Castillo might, I repeat, might be a better option at LW than Fabian if giving a chance to start and play at least 60-65 minutes there. Yeah and Zeus and LandyCakes, if Klinsmann ever pardons him like he has pardoned other players involved in the failed March mutiny.

    And for all you saying that Johnson was playing only left wing for Hoffenheim the last two months of the season, this is not true. He was still starting many games at left back. I am going to be very surprised if Fabian is not starting at left back for Hoffenheim in August. I think Hoffenheim will be bringing in some new attackers.

    • if fabian was tearing it up at LM for hoffenheim, that would also be something to consider. but the games i saw, he looked pretty poor.

  13. ————-Altidore————-






    • Interesting. Solves the Cameron/Jones problem. But don’t you think having Demps on the wing and the defensive responsibilities that come with the position severely hampers one of our best finishing threats?

      • Dempsey has shown he can be effective there. He likes to work his way centrally as well, opening up space for Cherundolo to do his thing.

      • the three central midfielder experiment has been thoroughly field tested and doesn’t work. the ball gets stuck in the middle of the field and jozy sulks on his island. we’ve now seen enough to know that the nats are effective in a 4-4-2 with two forwards that play off each other, and wingers that provide service.

    • Guzan/ Fabian J., Besler, Cameron, Chandler/ Zusi, Bradley,Holden, Eddie J./ Dempsey,Altidore. I would love to see this. Please stop including Cherundolo, he is way over the hill, probably 4th or 5th on LK’s depth chart, if at all. When everyone is healthy, Holden and Chandler have to be in the lineup, possibly Danny Williams DM, too, which would change the dynamic, and put Holden in a creative spot behind Altidore. Dempsey is another Landon; spoiled, petulant, and disappearing in big moments.

    • @ssuming you’re referring to fabian? if so, +1. now let’s see both beasley and fabian at their club positions.

      however, i do think klinsmann did a good job this game, especially the timing and personnel of subs.

  14. I think folks who argue that Jones is definitely the superior player to Cameron are correct. I also think that folks who argue that Jones may not be the superior partner for Bradley could be right.

    So it comes down to: can Jones and Bradley get a “full-performance” relationship going and keep it strong? If not, let us explore a bit more either using Jones + Cameron or Bradley + Cameron in the middle. I would argue that Bradley is as good as Jones, if not better, and has a high ceiling that he has not yet reached.

  15. couple thoughts about our center mids:

    i’m worried about our movement being too reliant on bradley. it seems like our centerbacks (especially gonzalez) are very hesitant in making even mid-range p@sses to anyone. espinoza starting man-marking bradley in the second half, but our wings did a good job playing up the outside. not sure that happens against a team with more depth.

    which leads to jones v. cameron: if bradley is marked out of the game, i’d much rather play jones (who is a true 2-way player), than cameron (who, when given time, can occasionally pick out a nice p@ss). yes, cameron is very good, but he doesn’t offer the tactical flexibility that jones does.

    • +1

      Literally just posted the exact same thing. If we were to actually do what people want and have Bradley be the only midfielder going up the middle–he’ll be manmarked out of the game by any good team. Jones offers a wrinkle in the plan. With two CMs who can both makes big runs a team has to play more cautious and it gives more space.

      Also–I keep seeing comments about Cameron’s passing. Jermaine Jones is bar none the best longball and diagonal deliverer we have.

    • to add to this: i think that even though bradley-cameron may be a ‘natural’ partnership, they may not be the best potential partnership.

      meaning, if bradley and jones can get their sh!t straight, i think that would be much better than what bradley-cameron could ever be.

      • While I agree with most of what you said in both posts, I disagree with that last sentence. Cameron has another cycle in him while this is likely Jones’ last. Cameron could potentially surpass him in the future but certainly for this cycle Jones is comfortably the starter at DM when healthy.

      • While I agree with most of what you said in both posts, I disagree with that last sentence. Cameron has another cycle in him while this is likely Jones’ last. Cameron could potentially surpa$$ him in the future but certainly for this cycle Jones is comfortably the starter at DM when healthy.

        I hate this word filter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! a$$ a$$ a$$ a$$ a$$

  16. I can’t believe how harshly everyone is rating Jones right now. In my opinion the guy is a top 5 starter on the squad. I agree that Cameron is showing very well at CM, but lets not get ahead of ourselves here – Jones is and should be the clear cut starter with MB90 in the center.

    Ives hit it, if Omar doesn’t step up in the back (I think he will), I think Cameron will get back in the starting fold there.

  17. Jurgen is far and away the finest coach we have ever had. He has discovered more talent and depth than I ever dreamed existed here. We now have a TEAM, rather a collection of egos. last night I saw crisp passing, coordination, and a desire to WIN, not settle for a draw, as was the case with all previous coaches. Geoff Cameron should be the starter for several reasons: better passer, better defender, better attitude. As good as central as he has shown, this is obviously his natural position. I am very impressed with Fabian Johnson, Zusi, and Besler, among the new guys; not so much with Gonzalez. Beyond Howard and Guzan, the next best option might be Cody Cropper; I have no confidence in Hamid, Johnson, and the MLS old-timers. Donovan is part of the inglorious past; I see no spot for him on this team. 13 points out of a possible 18, with two home matches remaining, I see 23 points; two home wins, plus a win in Panama, and a tie in Costa Rica. Thank you.

  18. Not surprised to Jones’ less then stellar grade. I think people underestimate just how long a concussion affects performance. Baseball statheads have looked at this in more detail then I know of in soccer and the numbers are significant. If Jones were a ballplayer one could make the case he should be held out of competitive action for a full month.

  19. I thought Fabian Johnson and Besler were the men of the match yesterday.

    While Besler continues to impress, I’m beginning to think that Gonzalez has some natural limitations that he just can’t overcome. He might be good enough for CONCACAF, but not at a higher level. It’s too bad that we didn’t make it to the Confederations Cup — it would’ve been really good to see the team and players tested in meaningful games by opposition a level or two above CONCACAF.

    • Completely agree with you on Fabian and Besler. He made some great tackles in the box.

      I noticed when Zusi was on the left, Fabian was able to get forward more often. Had to hang back with EJ. It is awesome having the versatility of him playing LB or LM.

      4-1 in this stretch of games. Couldn’t ask for more. I know 1 goal separates this game from being a disappointment and also things and form changes – but I have not felt this good about the USMNT in a long time. Remember when we could not score from the run of play?

      It is a lot of the simple things that I am impressed with. I love the passing from the back – refraining from a lot of long balls. But the long balls that are played are smart and dangerous. In the first half, I felt the first touch from a lot of our receiving midfielders let us down and was a bit off for whatever reason.

      One small play that sticks in my mind was from Bradley. Towards the end of the game, he had the ball in his own box. He could have booted it out of bounds which would have been the instinct for most. Instead he dribbled out of trouble towards the corner flag, drawing defenders, and then calmly passed it to one of the CB’s and they switched the field and kept the ball. I absolutely loved that. He is our modern day Claudio Reyna – better.

      Looking forward to the Gold Cup now. Build up our depth and competition. Love that we still have a strong team lined up for it and VERY interested to see what develops.

  20. Favorite moment, other than the goal: that first long run by Bradley, weaving through four or five Honduran midfielders before passing out wide. Yes, he got a bit lucky when the ball deflected back to him after a tackle, but it showed great quality.

    I have to admit that I was disappointed with Dempsey’s finishing last night. I know he’s a beast for us, but it’s also during games like that that we need his class the most. I think the work rate was there, but I would love to see him put one or two more on frame.

  21. People need to seriously cool the jets on Cameron overtaking Jones. It was less than a month ago that Jones put in a MOTM against Germany. Cameron has the benefit of coming on as a supersub when the games have already been under our control.

    It was merely a few games back we were talking about how amazing Jones was. Guess what? That hasn’t changed. A good substitute appearance is always great for a player. It means he played well. It doesn’t mean he gets to take the place of the guy going full 90 most games.

    • Jones an MOTM against Germany? When did that happen? While Jones certainly always works hard and give the proverbial 100% percent, work doesn’t necessarily translate into quality. He runs around and tackles a lot, is very active, but much of that activity doesn’t help the team at all. His running around and tackling often leaves exposed areas that he’s supposed to cover, his teammates never know what to expect on any given play, his touch and passing are quite poor (an occasional good pass notwithstanding).

      I’m not even going to mention that his soccer philosophy of “hurting” and “grinding” people is repugnant to me.

      Cameron will not run around and slide as much, but he will always cover his area. He has better awareness of play, his passing and decision-making are superior to Jones’s.

    • +1. Jermaine Jones is one of best most important players. He is the enforcer that other teams fear. He was slightly off last night because he was coming off a bad head knock/concussion. He looked slightly tentative making those hard crunching tackles, and I attribute that to not wanting to hit is head again. I blame Klinsmann for playing Jones in the first place. He did not need to be played. Give him the rest coming off the injury until September. The one thing you would not want is Jones getting a second concussion withing a week. That was a risk, I would not have taken.

      Jones’ yellow card possibly saved a goal. Jones was covering for a screw up on the defensive line. He did the right thing there drawing the professional foul.

      • His yellow absolutely saved a goal. He chased down Espinoza who had like 10 yard head start.

        I keep seeing comments about how Cameron is so good at staying back all the time and letting Bradley get forward. That’s literally the opposite of what Klinsmann wants and has explicitly stated.

        He wants two CMs who can both go forward with big runs and the other team has to adjust for both.

        Michael Bradley becomes infinitely less effective if the other team knows he is the only attacking option coming out of the middle.

      • ‘Michael Bradley becomes infinitely less effective if the other team knows he is the only attacking option coming out of the middle.’

        this. and the yellow card was the smart play to make.

      • You mean like against Panama when Bradley totally dominated the middle and was the focal point of the attack?

      • But you just said Bradley was infinitely less effective when the other team knows he’s the only attacking option?

      • Not to take anything away from Bradley but Panama didn’t have a midfield that could hope to contain him.

      • Yup. This Cameron vs Jones thing is the new Fire Bob Bradley.

        Jones’ yellow saved us. Not to mention he’s almost completely cut his yellows out. This was his first of the hex. I think people comment purely on emotion without thinking or really understanding the game. Jones had a nearly deadly run with the ball halfway up the field until he drew that yellow. Nobody was moving with the ball in the first half so Jones just said “F it, I’m going to do this on my own.”

        Jones is so much more valuable to this team and has absolutely proven his worth in the past month.

        People just need to settle down and stop being so knee-jerk about everything. I’m glad most posters here don’t coach.

  22. I’d ding Dempsey’s score a bit. Leaving aside his offense he rarely applied any defensive ball pressure. Considering Altidore got knocked for his lackluster work rate in past games when we were on defense (and rightfully so) and given the fact Dempsey is captain and supposedly leading by example I expect a bit more effort to collapse on the ball when we first turn it over in their end. There were several plays where he was no more than 5 steps from the Honduran ball handler and just watched. He wouldn’t have gotten the ball but at least the ball handler wouldn’t have been able to leisurely pick his pa$$.

    • There. Someone finally had the cojones to say it/write it. We thought Dempsey was TERRIBLE last night. For whatever reason he just didn’t have it last night. He whiffed on a wide open header. He was lazy all night. We were so excited to watch him in person and so disappointed. I don’t know how to coach that situation, but he should have been pulled- easily the worst player for us last night. I know he’s the captain and a huge talent that usually plays exceptional for us, so I assume JK didn’t want to pull him and watch him pout for a few months.

    • disagree. dempsey was doing what demps does: moving all over the final third, at the core of lots of our offensive moves, and kept getting his head on balls close to the goal. while none of his shots fell – he put in an engaged and productive offensive performance, nothing leisurely about it.

      • yeah, just looked, he barely even crossed the half line. ONE tackle in the other half. he had three “ball recoveries” in our half. so yeah, not a ton of defense it would appear.

        these heatmaps, however, can’t really show ball pressure. his heatmap shows he was all over the place in our half. which means he was doing a lot of work. i’m sure a good amount was pressing Honduras in their own half.

    • WOW!!!

      You took the words right outta my mouth. It makes me feel really good and I wish more people would recognize the fact this MLS players are playing well. It’s a testament to the quality of play within the domestic league and deserving of credit.

  23. Ives is spot on with Eddie Johnson’s work-rate in this game, but I would even rate him a little higher. Johnson, a player accustom to playing as a striker, covered very well for Fabian Johnson, allowing F. Johnson to get forward/provide great service while keeping Honduras from quickly counterattacking. Really mature game by EJ.

    Besler has some of the best physical positioning that I’ve seen from an American defender. He is almost always in the perfect position and rarely dives in, instead forcing defenders into longrange shots.

  24. I do have one question about Gonzo. On the play where Besler gave the ball away at the end of the 1st half which let Najar attack down our left side with no one in front of him, was Gonzo right or wrong to wait to put pressure on the ball. The announcers condemned it and I must admit I was screaming at him to step as well but at halftime Keller lauded the way he cut off the easy pa$$ into the center before stepping which effectively forced a wide angle shot that would be easier for Howard. After re-watching the play in slow motion I would have to say Gonzo was effectively 1v2 since Evans and I believe Bradley were close but not goal side to the Honduran player crashing the goal with Najar and therefore effectively out of the play so Keller’s praise makes some sense. Which analysis is correct?

    • Omar had a strong game and has played solid. IMHO he did the right thing to deny service across the field. Had that pass been made, then Howard would have had to adjust to the other side allowing for a wide open player to come down the middle at him. Najar was left with no options besides using his speed, but Omar’s angle made it so that he had to take a shot earlier than he would have liked. It allowed Howard to set-up for the shot while making it more difficult on Najar.

    • I agree with Keller. If Gonzalez would have stepped up early on the Honduran with the ball he would have left an unmarked open player with a clear, easy shot on goal.

    • I was always taught to cut off the player with the ball so you don’t give up the goal. But you had to do so knowing he’s going to try and find the open player. Knowing Gonzo’s speed, he may have made the right choice. Unfortunately, he’s a tanker and isn’t going to catch a sprinting Najar.

      • I think initially he played it well to take away the easy pass inside from Najar but was a step slow to get over to stop the ball. No doubt he was in a tough situation though and played it well enough. Besler would really be hearing it if his mistake cost us a goal 1 minute from halftime.

    • Don’t burden us with facts in our BSesque comments on Omar.

      Omar made the right play in a 1v2 moment, pushing the attacking player wide, making the save a much easier one. If Najar cuts it left, either an easier shot, or an easy pass with a tap in.

      Go back and review the build up people. Omar made the right play.

    • not of huge fan of his, but gonzo played it perfectly.

      that breakaway was never going to be a great situation, but he took the path of least risk: let howard save a shot that najar clearly was hesitant to take.

      • Howard didn’t seem too pleased with the way he played it. We were fortunate the shot was right at Howard.

      • well, he’s a keeper. when i played keeper (badly), i pitched a fit anytime anyone got a shot off from anywhere (seriously, i was really bad).

    • I agree that it was the right strategy to try to push Najar wide and bait him into a lower-percentage shot, but the execution left a lot to be desired. He didn’t push him wide enough allowed him WAY too much space and a very clean look at goal, with plenty of time to look up and pull the trigger. Najar could even have taken another touch, if he had wanted. If that had been a world-class striker, the result would have been much worse.

    • Gonzo did the right thing. If he would have closed on the attacker the ball would have been passed to the attacker coming down the center and that’s a much more difficult shot for the keeper to defend.

    • I’m with Keller on Omar G’s skillful approach on the Najar play.

      Therefore Beslers high grade and Gonzos low one are incorrect. They should be graded about the same since Beslers’ one goof was very bad in fact it was as bad as Ricardo Clarks give away in the USA’s last WC game against Ghana. The difference is Honduras isn’t as good as Ghana.

      • yeah but remember Omar had a terrible giveaway to Espinoza that required Jones to foul. otherwise, easy shot from the top of the 18.

      • I’m quite pleased with our results, but Omar’s has had a bad giveaway in his own third in at least 2 of the last 3 games. It simply can’t happen.

    • He played it well until the last two steps. Omar did great to cut off the pass into the middle but once Brad Evans had provided the cover he needed to immediately step to the ball. If Omar had played that perfectly than Najar wouldn’t have gotten the shot off or at least cut off his angle enough to where he would have hit it wide. When we play better teams he will not get away with that kind of defending, it’s the little things that he needs to work on

      • Exactly what Omar is missing awareness of what else is going on around him. He plays it exactly right, but he wasn’t aware that Evans had arrived to help. Granted he is looking at Najar, as the ball is his focus. Better communication between him and Evans would have allowed him to close out Najar better. As is stands he played it above average, but not perfectly. The blame for that situation falls on Besler.

  25. I do have one question about Gonzo. On the play where Besler gave the ball away at the end of the 1st half which let Najar attack down our left side with no one in front of him, was Gonzo right or wrong to wait to put pressure on the ball. The announcers condemned it and I must admit I was screaming at him to step as well but at halftime Keller lauded the way he cut off the easy pass into the center before stepping which effectively forced a wide angle shot that would be easier for Howard. Which analysis is correct?

    • he did the correct play…close in on Najar and at the same time close the passing lane. OG was one step too late but you really can’t blame him for that since he didn’t know help was coming from Evans.

    • At that moment it is a two on two scenario where Howard CAN’T take the center forward, so Gonzo has to protect that passing lane and press into the forward with the ball while relying on Howard to take the correct angle on the ball. In my opinion that play was taken properly, albeit a bit slower than optimal. If Gonzo leaves the passing lane to converge more, then both he and Howard are on the ball and center forward is left wide open with empty net.

  26. Is it bad that I am hoping Jermaine Jones gets another yellow card next game to give Cameron another chance to prove he may be a better option moving forward? He doesn’t constantly make me worry of getting two yellows and leaving the USA down a man. Also, Cameron understands that Bradley should go forward and covers for him rather than causing Bradley to cover for Jones. Although we have a small sample size for Cameron in that position, I believe he is a better choice than Jermaine.

    • You mean like that yellow card last night which was a tactical foul to prevent a goal scoring opportunity when OG had a bad turnover? So you hope he gets a red card like he’s done all of twice in his club career and all of 0 times for the Nats? JJ knows when he can foul and when he can’t, I don’t have them time to do the analysis but I bet he has one of the lowest red card per games ratio of holding midfielders. Which is what he is, so he’s going to get a yellow card a lot. It’s one thing not to like him but please stop with this tired old JJ is a red card risk thing that’s just patently untrue.

      • Not that I’m completely disagreeing with you, but I’ve seen him commit several fouls for the US where he probably should have had a red card. He got away with it, but he was lucky. The recent intentional elbow to the face of Bryan Ruiz in the Snow game comes to mind. Jones is a great player to have in the pool, if he is in the best form come next summer, then run with him. If another guy makes is presences know by then, Jones can play the role of backup. If for any reason Bradley is out, he is the only guy capable of filling some of MB’s shoes.

      • I completely agree that Jones yellow card yesterday was a necessary foul he had to commit. I am not blaming those yellows on him. I am just hoping he gets another one so that Klinsmann is forced to look at giving Cameron more time to play alongside Bradley. Also, this could be done if the USA clinches in the next game or two. I never said anything about wanting him to get a red, I want him to get a yellow so he has to miss the next game. Also, a player getting a yellow creates the risk that they will get a red card as well, Jones just gets more yellow, increasing his risk of getting a risk.

        While I understand Jones has established himself as a holding midfielder for both club and country, but I believe that Cameron is better for the long term and has greater upside than Jones. Just hoping we can see if Cameron or Jones will be better for the USA in a year.

        Nothing against Jones, he is a great player but if Cameron can play to the level he has the last two games, I believe is the better fit for the USA and the way they play.

  27. I love that Cameron has played 3 games in D-Mid for teh US, only one of which was a start, and people are already rating him ahead of Jones and the rest of the pool. Did he play well? Yes. Does he deserve additional chances to prove he’s worthy of a starting role? Yes. But do we need to anoint him as the starter next to Bradley after about 120 minutes of game time? No.

    • It’s not that Cameron is playing so great, it’s that Jones is playing so poorly. Cameron does a better job of shoring up our defense and giving Bradley more freedom to dictate the midfield. Bradley does a much better job of that than Jones, but they try to share that responsibility when paired together.

      Jones’ tendency to give the ball away in poor positions and commit ugly tackles is going to hurt us against better competition. Cameron is playing more simply and making it easier for the rest of the midfield to push forward and provide service to Dempsey/Altidore.

      • I think part of the difficulty with the Jones/Bradley pairing is that (just my read/opinion) JK and/or his staff have given Jones/Bradley the option of who drives forward as traditional # 8’s….and both like to get into the attack, so effectivly we’re playing double 8’s. Where as I think they instructed Cameron to play more of the #6 (destroyer) CDM role and told Bradley to play the lone 8. This simplifies the roles for both Bradley & Jones.

        IF/When Jones & Bradley develop a greater understanding of one another as double 8’s or If/when the coaches task one as a #6 we’ll continue to see some of the disjointed play.

      • you would think that, but you can see from the heatmaps of both games that Bradley got forward the same amount in both games. and Jones/Cameron had almost identical heatmaps.

      • Yes, this is more what I was getting at earlier. I get the same feeling – that the roles are not defined well enough between Bradley and Jones, either from the coaching staff or between the two of them. Just letting them freelance and switch at will…I don’t know, the center of the field just seems like the wrong position to do that with. I really think definitively tasking Bradley as the #8 and Jones as the #6 would help tremendously.

    • Absolutely agree. Jones brings a tenacity to the team that no one else does. I remember one play in particular where he lost the ball, tracked his man 20 yards, running past a stagnate Bradley and making the tackle. His forward passing is also very crisp. He may give up a few balls during the game, but his first instinct is to pick his head up and find the forward pass. Unfortunately that’s rare on our team. Sure he fouls, but that’s his role. Almost every good team (club and country) has that “gov’ner” type.

      To me, Dempsey had another disappointing game. He had so many clear chances and couldn’t put it away. And I’m tired of his planking dives. He puts his feet and hands together and just falls. It looks terrible and is worse when he pouts on the ground then complains to the ref.

      Jozy played just as well today as he did against Panama. A great performance!

      • Dempsey’s dive was doubly aggravating because he seemed to kill a clear goal-scoring opportunity. That’s not excusable. One dribble to the right, and he had a shot on goal, but he chose to dive. It embarrasses me as a US soccer fan. It is not in our soccer character.

      • Agreed. Some nights he seems to be willing to absorb the blows and dish ’em back–but on nights like last night where he obviously flops, it’s embarrassing, ala Spain in the game vs Uruguay the other night, or Portugal in way too many games.

    • Every time a CM has a half decent set of games, fans and reporters overreact and they’re annointed as a fixture from now on in Midfield next to Bradley who seems to continuously improve and gain poise- remember just how much the carousel has swung in past two years: Torres ( look at that perfectly weighted through ball!), Edu (solid on D, allows Bradley to go forward), Williams (look at how he dominated vs Guatemala!), Jones (MoM vs germany!), Cameron (Panama!)- all are imperfect players… from time to time one looks good, or a match up serves well to highlight their strengths, but not a single one of them should be locked in as a starter

  28. Well let’s see:

    I never have liked the way keepers are graded. It’s like they get punished when they don’t get tested enough. Timmy made the plays he was supposed to, got a clean sheet, he should get at least a 7…

    The gap between Gonzalez and Besler is too much. Besler was better, but his grade should be at least a half point lower, if not a full point. His turnover was the most dangerous…

    There’s no way Jones should get a lower grade than Gonzalez in this game. They probably both should have 5.5 in this one. Jones gets a little slack also because he’s coming back after a concussion. I would have preferred he skip this game…

    Bradley deserved to get as high a grade as anyone. 7.5 for again controlling the middle of the field. I don’t remember him making hardly any mistakes…

    Coach deserved a 7.5 to me, but I could see why you gave him a 7 just off of the choice to start Jones…

    Everyone else, I’m in agreement. Overall, grading seemed very solid. Keep up the great work, I love this site!

  29. The worst thing about Zusi’s 2nd half is that it’ll keep him in the national team picture for the next year. Like Beckerman, I think he’s largely outclassed at the international level. I’m fine with him making appearances in low-level friendlies or being used in CONCACAF matches when players ahead of him are injured/unavailable, but I don’t think he should garner any consideration against teams in the top 30-40 FIFA world rankings. It’s not like he has a high ceiling that everyone is waiting to see him reach.

    He did a few nice things in the second half that contributed to the attack, but I think his performance was like a hockey player scoring a goal and finishing minus-3 on the night: his positives don’t outweigh the many negatives.

  30. Gonzalez is a liability that will eventually catch up to team USA when they play top tier talent. Center back organization is still lacking. Howard, F. Johnson, Zusi, Altidore and Bradley (and Dempsey, but not on this night) are world class players that could propel this team to a semi final showing if the brackets play in our favor. How Castillo even gets makes this team, much less plays, is beyond me.

  31. Good call on Jozy’s defensive pressing. I love to see those guys working. Heck….even when everything else in the game isn’t working for you, you can AT LEAST RUN. Makes runs, create space, be a menace defensively.

    I’m a little more positive on Omar than a lot of other folks. For one thing, I’m not as enamored with ball-playing centerbacks. As fancy as it looks to have a slick CB dribbling out of trouble in his own box, we’ve all seen that bite you in the butt too. I LIKE having a CB whose first instinct is to get the ball out to mid-field quickly.

    The other thing is that this isn’t the type of game that will showcase Omar’s best attributes. Wait until we get to Brazil and are playing teams that force us back into our own box. Then we’ll start to appreciate Omar’s ability to clean up crosses and to make those goal-saving last ditch tackles in the box. I watch a LOT of Galaxy games and when the guy goes for a last-gasp tackle in the box, he’s really good. He always gets the ball and almost never fouls. We’ll appreciate those things when we’re playing Italy of Argentina instead of Honduras and Panama.

    • No one is doubting his ability to get the ball OUT… But when he’s not in a pressure situation, I DO want him to play the ball a little more neatly to a midfielder or forward on the ground. I like Gonzalez a lot and think his ceiling is high and by no means am I saying that we should drop him, but his distribution has been lacking compared to Besler and even Cameron when he was playing there.

      • The problem is good teams will see that we rely on Bradley to pick the ball up off our CBs to dictate play. They will key on him and force our defenders to play out of the back. Besler is really helpful in that regard. Passing CBs are really a luxury item though. Defending well is by far the more important attribute.

        I think Omar is a good defender but, once again, he showed that he is mistake prone. He seems to have 1-2 major gaffes every game. Good teams will punish those mistakes more often and could easily be the difference between going on or going home in the World Cup. I just don’t trust him at the moment. He needs to clean up his play or be replaced. The guy has obvious potential to be a starting CB but needs to improve a bit to hold on to his place.

  32. Overall, I felt good about the US performance. The defensive posture Honduras took could have easily undone an earlier version of this US team through frustration and lack of focus. I remain very concerned about Jermaine Jones. He may “boss the middle” but he seems to foul far too often, and he had some scary give-aways. I also don’t feel like he and Bradley have the understanding that Cameron and Bradley seem to share. I liked Cameron very much in the holding mid role against Panama, and his work at the end of this game showed that his and Bradley’s awareness, along with Cameron’s ability and poise on the ball were not a one-off, but a developing partnership. Could be very exciting.

    • +1, I’d like to see more Bradley and Cameron on the field to see how it develops. Jones is a bit reckless at times and gives the ball away.

    • Agreed. I actually think Jones play in the middle was a major reason the US played so poorly for the first 60 minutes of the match. We looked much better when Jones dropped back out of the play and Bradley was able to move forward. Personally I think a 5 for Jones is too high, but his effort earns him a 4 for me.

      Bradley has become the main man to put the play through the midfield for the US and Cameron allows him to do that more than Jones. Jones is a liability out there who is a terrible passer and thinks he can play more of an attacking role. In contrast Cameron drops back smartly and plays very well in front of the center backs, providing us more balance/control through the middle. This in turn leads to more space on the wings as the opposing midfield gets sucked in.

      Panama may have lost to Costa Rica, but they bossed Costa Rica for most of the game. Panama looked pathetic against the US though with Cameron and Bradley shoring up the middle. I think we’re starting to see a great team come together for the US and the only piece missing IMHO is an in form Donovan taking EJ’s place on the outside.

    • Jones looked really rusty last night. But even when he’s on, and he’s a great player individually, it cant be denied there is something lacking in the partnership with Bradley. An understanding/trust/confidence, something.

      After watching Bradley push forward so confidently and effectively against Panama, you have to wonder if this is reason enough to start Cameron or another player with more strictly defined defensive duties to free Bradley.

      • I’d like to keep the Bradley & Jones pairing, and leverage as a sub for either DM or on the back line. He’s one of our most versatile assets.

      • You’ve taken the words out of my mouth. I’m not saying Cameron is a better player than Jones, but I really think he’s a better partner for MB, and frankly, that’s who I want to unleash on the opposition. Is Jones valuable to have around? Absolutely. I think he might be used more effectively in games where we might have to bunker ourselves, when we play the likes of Brazil, Spain, Italy, or Germany, but when we feel we can take it to a team and dictate the tempo of a game, I want MB to have the freedom to move forward and pull the strings. Geoff Cameron is humble enough to know he’s playing second fiddle to Bradley in the middle, and does all the dirty work to allow Bradley to flourish (or at least he did against Panama,) where Jones’ experience and skill (certainly not any type of hubris, not implying that with the GC humble comment) motivate him to push forward more, leaving Bradley to have to read Jones’ movements and moderate himself more often. I really think it would be worth seeing Cameron and Bradley partner again, ideally against stiffer competition, but I’m not sure when we will. I’m almost certain, barring injury, that JK will start Jones in Costa Rica and against Mexico.


      • I agree that Cameron is a great partner for Bradley, but I think Jones has an important place on this team. Jones is a solid two-way midfielder and is very effective playing the “advanced destroyer” role. Although I’d like to see Cameron and Bradley play together again, I’d rather see Jones start in Costa Rica and against Mexico. These are games where we’ll need Jones to disrupt the opponent’s midfielders.

      • Agree with your comments that Jones looked rusty last night. Early in his time with MNT, I was disappointed in his ability to connect with positive passes–but in the games immediately before his concussion, he really seemed to be spot on in getting the ball thru to teammates in advanced positions. It’s likely that the concussion’s effects were still lingering, as he didn’t nearly have the passing touch he displayed in recent games. Having said that, I can’t disagree that Cameron’s willingness to play deeper and let Bradley be playmaker is a clear asset in my book. I’d like to see more of that pairing.

      • ‘After watching Bradley push forward so confidently and effectively against Panama’

        not really a good reference; panama basically conceded the center of the field to us, playing in one of the emptiest buckets i’ve ever seen.

      • True. Not a good reference.

        The MB fans have to face the truth: Jermaine Jones is a great defensive midfielder, I think the best on the USMNT and how anyone can even question whether he should be a starter is impossible for me to understand. It takes two to tango and if there are some rough edges in the pairing of Michael Bradley and Jones, then both share equally in the responsibility to make it work. And if it doesn’t work then MB is as much to blame as JJ and then one of them has to be removed. I would like to see how a Jermaine Jones/Geoff Cameron pairing would work. I think those two would work great together.

      • i’m not sure i’ve ever starting out agreeing with a comment so strongly, then ended up disagreeing so strongly.

        bradley is our best all-around midfielder, and the future of our team. unless he’s singe-handedly losing us games, you make it work with him on the field.

      • Totally! The only reason we don’t get to see a jones/cameron pairing is because bradley is the coach’s son!!

        Seriously, Biff, I remember the nepotism comments. Just admit you were wrong, let go of the hatred, and come back from the dark side.

      • calm down, jon. my starting 11 includes MB and JJ90y. The point I am trying to make is that Jermaine Jones excels as a leading player with a top team in the Bundesliga that also plays well in the Champions League. Jones and Bradley finally seem to have developed some chemistry and have been playing well together and now, after one game pairing MB and Geoff Cameron we have the Jermaine-Jones-haters out in full force calling for Jones’s head and for him to be replaced at defensive midfield by fullback/defender Geoff Cameron. Yes, I am a huge fan of Cameron. No, I don’t think he is a better midfielder than Jermaine Jones.

        So, yeah, I don’t understand the hate being spewed for Jones, whose commitment for the shirt is as intense as any other player on the USMNT and who played more minutes last year for the national team than any other player. He is an excellent midfielder and, yes, I think he is currently better than Michael Bradley. At some point in the future, MB will no surpass as Jones ages.

        So my argument to the JJ haters is: Well, if after one game of MB/Geoff Cameron you want to carve this pairing in stone, let’s be fair. Let’s see how JJ/Geoff Cameron would play. Might this would be an even better pairing. Or, maybe you and others could quit hating on JJ and we could agree that the best midfield includes the pairing of MB and JJ90Y.

      • Okay, not a JJ hater, and not exactly ecstatic about Cameron either. However, (and I think I’ve made this point before) what I think people get excited about when they see MB with GC, is that GC is more willing to stay back that JJ is–thus giving MB more freedom to go forward. That does’t mean that MB never goes forward when JJ is his partner, but it’s more often with GC by his side.

        JJ is more an enforcer, with good enough vision to make an exceptional pass here and there, but he’ll never drop deep and help transition the ball from the back line to the attacking third, so if MB makes his runs, he’s starting waaaay back there.

        GC will come and get the ball since he’s back there on defense anyway– and that gives MB more freedom– and people like that.


      • man, forgot about moderation: forgive the re-post to help it get through sooner

        Okay, not a JJ hater, and not exactly ecstatic about Cameron either. However, (and I think I’ve made this point before) what I think people get excited about when they see MB with GC, is that GC is more willing to stay back that JJ is–thus giving MB more freedom to go forward. That does’t mean that MB never goes forward when JJ is his partner, but it’s more often with GC by his side.

        JJ is more an enforcer, with good enough vision to make an exceptional p@ss here and there, but he’ll never drop deep and help transition the ball from the back line to the attacking third, so if MB makes his runs, he’s starting waaaay back there.

        GC will come and get the ball from the CBs since he’s back there on defense anyway– and that gives MB more freedom– and people like that.


      • Jones is a wildcard. He has some talent to pick out a pass and a physicality, but he’s just as likely to be out of position and give up a dangerous foul or earn a yellow. Based on the small sample we’ve seen, Cameron plays deeper and more defensively. He also covers alot of ground. But most importantly, Bradley doesn’t have to constantly worry about where Jones is on the pitch. If I’m Jurgen, I want Bradley free to recycle, push up, create and occasionally let loose on goal. Jones is nice in some respects, but you build around Bradley and right now Cameron is presenting us with the real possiblity that he just might fit better with MB.

      • That should have read, “Bradley doesn’t have to constantly worry about where Cameron is on the pitch.” Sorry…

      • Agreeing and saying it slightly different.

        Cameron keeps it simple and adds an element of tempo. Jones doesn’t contribute to this.

        Nobody would confuse Cameron to Busquets, but his add to the team is that flavor where Jones’ is different..

    • Jones might have an edge defensively but Cameron’s ability to play the ball out of DM is incredible. His willingness to stay in the DM role really does free up Bradley to get forward too.

      Bradley and Jones have been communicating/reacting better as to goes forward and who stays behind. I can see how this can frustrate defenses not knowing where the attack is coming from. But, for now, the more predictable Cameron/Bradley pairing shows greater offensive effectiveness and promise going forward, IMO.

      • i’m comparing the heatmaps of Bradley/Cameron and Bradley/Jones + Cameron on MLS Chalkboard right now. you’ll see, very clearly, that Jones generally does not get more forward than Cameron. at least these last two games. so that isn’t 100% true about Bradley. you’ll see Bradley seems to cover the same area no matter who is playing with him.

        a big difference i noticed is that Cameron was more successful when he was back deep. more ball recoveries and tackles. Jones found his success more near the half line. but again, Bradley had about the same number of recoveries and tackles in both games, and they were generally higher up the field than Cameron and Jones.

        this MLS Chalkboard is so cool!

    • I agree, Cameron has looked good in that spot and has given MB the freedom to dictate the game more. However, I see one major problem with Cameron playing DM, it means he can’t take Gonzales spot at CB.

      Gonzales continues to look shaky, not only with the ball at his feet but with tracking opposing player movement. In a similar 5 game stretch last year, Cameron went from shaky to owning the spot. Cameron has all the athleticism that Gonzo has but he’s got technical ability and soccer Iq that Gonzo just doesn’t possess. If gonzo’s having trouble tracking CONcacaf middies and forwards, imagine, actually you don’t need to imagine, think back to the Belgium and Germany games. I think it’d be amazing to have a CB who can make that pass Cameron made to EJ against panama

    • Agree completely in regards to comments about Cameron/Bradley partnership. Eye test-When Cameron is in the DM role, the center midfield seems to run smoother.

      • what were some other examples of him and Bradley in CM together? obviously he had one game against Panama and then 16 minutes tonight. but am i forgetting more? because otherwise, that isn’t a good sample size to make a final decision. especially when Cameron is having trouble getting PT at the club level for Stoke while Jones is a starter for Schalke.

        i think this is another example of people trying to change things too quickly after a small sample size. Jones has actually been playing pretty well for the US in 2013 and i don’t think his showing last night, which wasn’t THAT bad, is going to unseat him.

        if anything, i think it shows it would have been a good idea to let Jones rest from the concussion and play Cameron from the start in order to boost the sample size. either way, i’m comfortable with either midfield combination just discussed, which is pretty cool.

    • the only thing i’ll say is Jones made a professional foul thanks to a bad Omar turnover. it’s that simple. otherwise Espinoza has a clear shot from 18 yards at the perfect angle to go top corner. and unlike 9 of his teammates, his yellow didn’t suspend him because he didn’t already have one.

  33. Howard 6

    Evans 5

    Besler 6.5

    Gonzalez 4.5

    F. Johnson 6.5

    Bradley 6.5

    Jones 5

    Zusi 5.5

    Eddie Johnsonn 4.5

    Dempsey 6

    Altidore 6.5

    Camaron 6

    Castillo NR


  34. I disagree with your thoughts for Klinsmann. The choice was Corona for Eddie Johnson not FJ, who was always going to play. We lacked width in the first half, and EJ has to take some of the blame.

    • It seemed to me that it was far from a given that Fabian Johndon would be moved back to left back. There was a prevelant school of thought that Castillo would be handed the start at left back and Fabian Johnson would remain at left wing.


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