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USA 6, Guatemala 0: SBI Player Grades

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It was a tale of two midfields on Friday night as the U.S. Men’s National Team overcame a disappointing start to turn in a dominating second-half effort in demolishing Guatemala, 6-0, in a Gold Cup tune-up match in San Diego.

Halftime subs Stuart Holden and Mix Diskerud helped drive the U.S. attack into a new gear, and helped Landon Donovan deliver in a strong return to the national team with a two goal effort.

There were plenty of positives all over the field for the Americans. DaMarcus Beasley continued to impress at left back, Brek Shea showed encouraging signs late in the match, and Herculez Gomez reminded us just how good he is at finding the net.

It’s tough to find many negatives from a 6-0 victory, but if there were any, it was in the shaky early play of the U.S. defense, which had more trouble with Guatemala’s one-forward attack in the first 30 minutes of the match than most would have expected them to have.

Here is a rundown of how all the USMNT players fared on Friday night, with the SBI USMNT Player Grades vs. Guatemala:



Didn’t have much to do on the night, though there were some uncharacteristically shaky moments.


Did very well defensively, stepping in to help clean up messes on a handful of occasions. Didn’t offer much getting forward, though he did try to join the attack, particularly in the second half.


Looked unsure on the ball, and while he did clean up aerial challenges, he still looks rusty in space, and in possession.


First half was shaky, and some decisions were real head-scratchers, but he improved in the second half (under less pressure) and scored an impressive goal.


The best U.S. player in the first half, Beasley looked dangerous getting forward and handled his defensive duties well. Was solid throughout the match.


Struggled to control the middle of the park in the first half, though part of that was down to the lack of movement in the U.S. attack.


Invisible in the first 30 minutes, Donovan looked like he was deferring to his teammates. In the second half he became much more aggressive and played a key role in the blowout, scoring a pair of goals and setting up a third.


Never really could get going as he tried impressing his hometown fans. Did make a good run on the opening goal that freed up Herculez Gomez, and showed a few glimpses in possession, but just didn’t take advantage of his chance to impress.


Not his best performance, but he did set up the opening goal with a good pass. Struggled to really get the attack going in the early part of the match, committing several turnovers. Didn’t exactly cement his place on a starting Gold Cup role.


Very active on the left wing, though it was definitely a case of feast or famine. Lost the ball far too often, but when he was effective he could really pressure the Guatemala defense.


Scored the opening goal with a timely run, and his movement up top helped free up space for his teammates. He also delivered the cross that helped draw a penalty. Set piece deliver left a lot to be desired though, and he may want to defer to his teammates going forward.


A virtuoso performance from the Bolton midfielder.  Set up Donovan’s second goal with a perfect cross, and sparked the sequence that led to the final goal of the match with a perfect long pass. His distribution was stellar and he looked like he has fully recovered from the injury ordeal that has cost him the better part of the past two years.


Was a perfect complement to Holden, moving well and making himself available for passing channels and showing a good passing eye. Played a part in the build-up on Donovan’s second goal and Wondolowski’s goal. Not sure he did enough to grab a starting role at the Gold Cup, but definitely turned in a confidence-building effort.


Quietly had a solid match. Not only scored his first international goal with a clean finish, he also worked a give-and-go with Holden on Donovan’s second goal, and made a good run to free space for Alejandro Bedoya’s goal.


Scored the final goal of the night, and played the right wing role well in his 31 minutes.


Very aggressive getting forward, and looked like he is over the foot ailments that cost him much of the first half of 2013. Did commit his share of turnovers, and some of his passes showed signs of rust, but it was his most encouraging USMNT performance in some time and his good cross helped set up Bedoya’s match-capping goal.


Didn’t have much to do during his 17-minue cameo. Was on the receiving end of a quality Holden pass, but couldn’t control it enough to have a legit chance on goal.


The starting lineup left something to be desired in terms of effectiveness, but the group Klinsmann trotted out for the second half was very effective and now the USMNT heads into the Gold Cup riding high off a confidence-building performance. Suddenly, Klinsmann’s decision to leave Landon Donovan out of the June qualifiers is looking like a stroke of genius.


What do you think of these grades? Any players you feel were graded too generously? Anybody you feel deserved a higher grade?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I thought you were too generous grading Torres. I would like to see more of the midfield partnership of Mixx/Holden.

    There were two bizarre cases where one of our defenders were fighting to shield the ball from an attacker, so that our keeper could pick up the ball, except our keeper was, quite bizarrely, 20-25 yards from goal. I hope these factored into Rimando’s grade.

  2. <>

    Holden looked inspired and I would be surprised if he doesn’t have a good Gold Cup and silence a good portion of his naysayers before the September qualifiers are upon us. But to anyone who got to watch the whole game: Was it just me or did his first touch seem rather horrid on multiple occasions?

    There is something troubling about his (Holden’s) return to form around this time, and the proximity to Brazil next year. Reminds me of John O’Brien’s place with the MNT pre-WC 2006. You know, if he is healthy he will likely be on the pitch, but we are all unsure how big of an IF that may be.

    Also, can’t understand why anyone thinks there is a legitimate chance Parkhurst goes to Brazil. Barring injury this would be a shock to me.

    As for Goodson… just please go away. How does this terribly unathletic clod continue to stay in the mix? I feel like I am taking Crazy Pills when I watch this guy time and again in the MNT kit.

    Beasley will make it hard for Klinsmann next year when settling on his first XI. On the one hand I think we can all agree Fabien will be on the pitch, but I think whether he is slotted in at left back or left mid will depend more upon how in form DMB is. With every match it seems DMB is further cementing a First XI spot with Klinsy.

    I think the USMNT is, perhaps for the first time, in the enviable situation of having enough quality options in midfield (and dare I say elsewhere?) that Klinsmann can afford to take some chances come next summer on a few players with more upside than experience, as opposed to the last two World Cups when Bradley and Arena had to fill out the roster with MLS stalwarts that rarely flashed brilliance for the Sr MNT and offered little excitement or new dimensions to a WC squad (Think Chris Albright, Jimmy Conrad, Ben Olsen, Josh Wolff and Brian Ching in 2006; Clarence Goodson, Edson Buddle, Ricardo Clark and Herculez Gomez in 2010.)

    Now, since that time much has changed, as I have changed my mind about Gomez a bit. But with that statement I am talking about the Parkhurst’s, Goodson’s, Beckerman’s and Wondolewski’s of the world. If these guys are still in contention come next summer we have some major rethinking to do when it comes to talent evaluation.

    We must all remind ourselves always, there exists a gigantic chasm between the talent level of our Hexagonal and the World Cup Final. Just think back to the weeks leading up to WC2006. We were riding high, feeling very good about our chances in that WC Final, only to be stunned by the Czechs 3-0 in a match we were woefully unprepared for. Now many of you will say, “Ching, Conrad, Albright? these guys didn’t even play in that match, WTF are you on?” ‘Tis true, but the entire squad shapes the form of the match day First XI and going against the likes of these second tier, also-ran’s in training softens the resolve of our First XI and inadequately prepares them for battle.

    That Guatemala is not a 1st class opponent notwithstanding, I think we can all agree that the US squad is really showing us that Klinsmann is going to have some tough decisions come next summer, especially in the attack. I will be eager to see how he attempts to find the right combination of players to complement the core of Jozy, Clint and Michael Bradley. I for one think it has to be some combination of Landon, Stuart Holden, Fabien Johnson, and Jermaine Jones with Geoff Cameron and Eddie Johnson making strong cases to be a part of that mix.

    Other notes, Klinsmann will leave Bocanegra out next summer at his own peril. Would like to see Gooch make a case to be included in that 23, although I don’t see it happening save for him having a dominant Gold Cup (really don’t see this happening either.)

    Hope to see a good deal of Mix, Holden and Brek Shea in the coming tournament.

    As you can likely glean from my tone thus far I am not sold on Gonzo and Besler in defense. This is exactly the kind of lineup decision that seems solid throughout the Hex and in friendlies until we are at last on the pitch in Brazil, first group game in the WC Final 2014, staring at an Italy or Spain or Argentina and it becomes painfully obvious to everyone with eyes that we needed a guy who has proved time and time again to be a top calibre player against the world’s top talent out there commanding the central defense. Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, DaMarcus Beasley. In all the successes the USMNT has had in prior world cups, proven international veterans have played instrumental roles, especially in defense. This is nearly always true for other countries as well and guys like Gooch, DMB, and especially Bocanegra should be given real consideration on their previous merits alone. Now I am not saying their current form should be ignored, but the question Klinsy should be asking when considering a starting tandem of Besler and Omar Gonzalez against a world power in the WC Final is in regards to the ceiling of those two guys. Is their ceiling above and beyond that displayed previously by Bocanegra or Onyewu or even Geoff Cameron? If the answer is yes, then by all means, proceed. If the answer is no, than it will be apparent immediately and he will only have 3 precious substitutions to remedy it.

    So lastly, here is my take on who the 23 is at this point
    (players in parenthesis fill multiple roles, asterisks denote substitutions to the final 23 I would not oppose at this point.)

    F: J.Altidore, C.Dempsey, (E.Johnson) T.Boyd, *H.Gomez
    M: M.Bradley, L.Donovan, S.Holden, J.Jones, **G.Zusi, (G.Cameron) D.Williams, B.Shea
    D: (F.Johnson) D.Beasley
    CB: C.Bocanegra, O.Gonzalez, ***M.Besler
    RB: S.Cherundolo, T.Chandler
    GK: T.Howard, B.Guzan, ****B.Hamid

    my tweeners are:
    F: A.Bedoya, *J.Agudelo
    M: **M.Diskkerud, S.Klejstan, J.Torres J.Corona, B.Feilhaber?
    D: ***O.Onyewu, B.Evans, M.Edu, E.Castillo, E.Lichaj, D.Yedlin, J.Spector
    GK: ****S.Johnson, N.Rimando

    ps. WTF is up with Benny Feilhaber? Am I the only one who thinks it’s a real shame his career has taken such a dramatic plunge?

  3. Dempsey Altidore Donovan

    Diskerud Holden


    Johnson Besler Cameron Cherundolo

    E. Johnson

    admittedly, mix is a stretch here and jones would prob be used next to bradley instead, but i think this is the sexiest lineup we have

  4. I thought Castillo was very loose with the ball and should of had the lowest rating. I also thought Gooch’s gait was a little balky. We need to see how he looks against Costa Rica, that will be the true test.

    Stu makes everyone around him play better, which is the sign of a great player. Not a knock on Mixx, but he had the good fortune of getting caught up in the Stu vortex…Stu goes to 11

    Is there anything better than watching Stu/LD combo play…same wavelength high IQ soccer…can’t wait to see more games.

  5. 1. Every time there’s a nice game or a guy has a nice run out people in Ives-Land immediately start annointing a new starting 11 to the senior team with their own new diagram & formation… relax & see how the entire Cup plays out- a lot can happen over a 5 game stretch

    2. Don’t make so much of an issue of who’s idea it was for LD to go up top, I’m sure over the last 4 days they’ve discussed switches as the games evolved.. as difficult as it was to break down that bunker it was time for a switch…he prob went over & said I think it’s time….ok, go ahead….

    3. Stus game spoke for itself…no need to rehash, so as far as Mix played, I haven’t seen much of him but man he looks smooth and comfortable on the ball…looking forward to seeing more of him

    4. I don’t see the love affair with Shea.. the guy has speed and aggression but his touch is like he’s kicking the ball with 2 bricks on his feet… you can say it’s because he hasn’t been playing, but has he ever had a soccer players touch?

  6. Against a better opponent, all the grades would be at least 1.5 lower. How good the US p@sses looked, was more due to the lack of pressure and the opponents not cutting off obvious p@ssing lanes than it was due to any incisive or creative thought. The US was given obvious options going forward and saw little resistance in exercising any of those options. Like others, I think it is unclear if anything of value can be learned from a match like this.

    • Dennis,

      This match changed when Donovan moved to his “Galaxy position”. That disrupted Guatemala’s organized bunker that could deal with Corona/Herc but not Donovan/Herc. That led to JFT’s pass to Herc for the first goal and really, the game was over.

      So what you learned, regardless of the fact that the opposition was practically semi- pro was that Donovan remains an offensive catalyst for the US. Once he got comfortable the US offense clicked and in this instance, the game was effectively over.

      We learned that though he was rusty, Shea remains the closest thing to Charlie Davies the US has. Hopefully he will do well and win a job at Stoke.

      We learned Holden was probably close to being fully fit, though I would wait and see how he feels today before going 100% on that.

      We learned that Mix seems to have taken JK’s criticism to heart and came out aggressive and involved.

      We learned that Bruin either needs a little more time to settle or more skill. He does get into good positions though.

      Overall it was positive and they will have two more weaklings to play in Belize and Cuba before it starts getting harder.

      This is just another step in the process and Brazil is still a little less than a year away.
      It did make every USMNT player just a little more insecure about their WC chances but that was always going to happen and it is what JK has been aiming for.

  7. Whoa now! Everyone needs to slow their roll. Donovan had an exceptional game last night but it was still a friendly against a team that couldn’t make the Hex. Though, if he can carry even half that form through the gold cup–bringing the title in the process–then he will have nearly guaranteed a spot on the National team. But I think Zusi–even though not as good as Donovan–has shown that Donovan is replaceable, hopefully that lights a fire under Donovan.

  8. An honest question for USMNT supporters, watching matches like the one from last night, do they give you any sense of guilt in derivingn any sense of pleasure from beating such lowly opponents? Considering the opposition, I don’t think you can truly grade the US.

    • The grades are only for their performances this game and should be naturally high when the US plays opposition of Guatemalas level.

    • I think it is important whether the team grinds out its result and who stands out in the process. If the team stinks — remember the Canada tie?? — or only certain players excel against the opposition, I think that does tell you about the team. If you can’t produce now when can you? I think you can’t trust that someone who scores on Guate will score a hat trick on Brazil, but if like Torres you look bad against Guate, I doubt you can help me win at the finals. It shouldn’t be overdetermined but if you can’t outplay that bunch a question mark needs to go next to, or a line through, your name.

      I get what you’re saying but the test of a good team is racking up results like this game after game, and even teams like Germany have the Faroe Islands on their schedule.

  9. The formation change clearly opened things up for the centermids on a narrow field. Holden and Diskerud had a lot more space operate and the game webt downhill after the second game. This should be taken into consideration when evaluating the first half to the second.

    My theory on Torres is that Klinsmann shouldn’t hand him all the keys and play him with a pure destroyer, but hand him a few and Holden a few keys similar to Bradley and Jones. With Beckerman out there things don’t flow well offensively.

    Playing in Portland, there will be similar challenges to Friday. Klinsmann need to go with a 4-4-2 since Corona is more comfortable out wide. Holden needs to be in and Diskerud earned a start as well. Torres can come in as a sub for Holden if he can’t go 90 min right now. I don’t know what to make of Castillo so I’ll wait until the next game.

  10. Some thoughts
    Rimando looked shaky but its one match.. give him a break. I’d personally like to see Michael Orozco replace Gooch at CB. Hard to gauge the performance of the defense because they weren’t tested all that much. Beckerman was weak and proably won’t start anymore. Torres was better but not impressive either. Holden and Disekrud should be the starters as well as A team options. Castillo had some moments but there’s better options at his position. Shea as noted looked rusty but dangerous. I thought corona merited a stronger rating either way he has poteintal, I still rate him over bedoya although both are good players. Donovan was quiet then turned it on late. Gomez did what we expect from him. Although Wondolowski benefited from the situation a goal is a goal and that will help his case. Wasn’t impressed with bruin and I’m hoping jack mac replaces him soon. Despite the weak performance by the Guatemalans scoring five goals in one half is no joke and is paticularly good coming from a B team. Overall I feel better about our chances in the gold cup.

  11. Was everyone asleep last night… know Bedoya did play!!!! He was excellent last night, and barely got mentioned during the bcast. He brings a tenacity that LD nor Zusi can offer. He is great at applying pressure and his movement away from the ball is superb. Hate to come across as having a man crush for him, but he deserves more PT. Might make a great outside back.

    • He was good but it was against a weak weak team. He’s no outside back! Why do people try to force mids to defence?? Hes going to be playing as an attacking mid all next season and you want him to play RB? It makes no sense. Why not call in someone who has actually performed well for the US in meaning competition (hint: its Lichaj).

      With that said I believe Bedoya will beat out Zusi and Castillo for a spot on the WC squad but I don’t see him in direct contention with Donovan. Donovan is a forward now

      • Lichaj barely has played over the last two years. If he earns a starting spot with Nottingham Forest and holds down the job, then maybe he should be considered especially if his decision-making and passing improves. Do not get your hopes though. I suspect Lichaj will be enjoying the World Cup on a couch somewhere.

      • Are you talking gold cup or do you mean Donovan is a forward from here on out? I ask that because I think the A team is now firmly settled into a 4-2-3-1, and if so you’re talking about Donovan and Altidore competing for the same spot.

        I’d rather have Donovan on a wing, with Zusi backing him up. Zusi has played better than I expected, but he’s still substitute quality.

      • Im talking about from here on out. Donovan has lost some of his speed as hes aged but he is still one of the best and most clinical US players in front of goal.

        You can call it a 4-2-3-1 all you want but the heat maps show it was a 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1) with Dempsey dropping back as a withdrawn striker and Bradley + Jones/Cameron playing box to box roles. In a 4-2-3-1 the outside mids would be playing level with Dempsey for most of the game with Dempsey being tasked with advancing the ball when that was simply not true. Bradley was the one that controlled the middle and the one players looked for.

        Im talking about Donovan competeing for the withdrawn striker spot so as of now thats against Dempsey. Has Donovan shown enough recently that he deserves that spot over Clint? No he hasnt so I say he either comes off the bench or someone moves out wide

      • When Donovan and Holden replace Zusi and Jones in the starting lineup, I suspect you’ll see something more like a 4-3-2-1, with Dempsey and Donovan playing behind Altidore and F.Johnson (or Beasley), Bradley and Holden behind them in midfield.

      • It’s an interesting idea. I don’t think Holden will replace Jones. One is finesse and the other is street fighter, and JK clearly prefers the latter. The same preference is hurting Kljestan’s and Diskerud’s prospects under this coach. What’s more, JK sees Jones as the street fighter in chief, and has mentioned in several interviews how he appreciates that ‘edge’ in the midfield.

      • There’s a lot to what you say, but I hope JK isn’t so locked in to that viewpoint. The bottom line has to be scoring goals, and if Holden’s Gold Cup performance shows that he’s really back, he can create opportunities in a way that Jones can’t come close to matching. His assist on Donovan’s second goal was a thing of beauty.

  12. Good assessment of Gooch. He looked way rusty – especially shaky in the confidence department. If he can get a regular gig somewhere (anywhere!!) maybe he can get it back before Brazil.

  13. Rimando looked like he was trying to force himself into the game. Almost looked like he thought he needed to really impress. Maybe JK has put the starting GK spot up for contention. But certainly some sketchy moments.

  14. I for one didnt think JFT was nearly as bad as some people are saying. He’s very smooth and actually looked to play the ball forward. He’s not as offensive as Mix and Holden but he’s a good mover of the ball and puts himself in decent positions to help the defense even if he’s not as good a tackler as Jones or Bradley.

    A player id like to see more of would be Bedoya. He’s been on fire for his club team and looks to be on his way to bigger and better things in the Dutch league with Heereveen or Twente or a French team. He could be another sleeper to sneak into WC squad with a good year.

    • Here is the difference I see between Holden and Torres…Torres played from a static position, meaning flat footed Holden is on the move and playing the ball very EPL-like…I do not get to see the Mexican league where I live but I assume it is a very techical league and not as much pressure on the ball as the EPL….so you can play flat footed short touch balls…Torres’ chip ball in the box on the first goal was excellent but he was on the move when he chip it….Holden was about five levels above the rest of the midfield on either side last night you could see he and Donovan did not need anytime to gel…Landon was reading and running of Holden and Holden was spraying inch perfect 30 yards balls as well as short perfectly weighted angled 2 & 3 yards balls.

  15. Not sure that Shea’s bad passes and turnovers were the result of rustiness. Shea’s strengths were always his abilitity to take people on, cross the ball and score. His weaknesses were turnovers and poor passing. We will see if he improves on that.

  16. I don’t know why Castillo, who was a turnover machine, gets the same grade as Corona and Torres. I thought that Corona along with Beasley was one of the more dangerous players for the US in the first half. He he had to drop too deep for No. 10 to get the ball, but his decision-making was good. It was not his best game, but he did some good things, whereas Castillo single-handedly killed several promising attacks by either having horrible touch or making a wrong decision.

    • my unofficial count on Castillo was 14 of 19 touches resulted in turnovers… It may even be more… watching live made it hard to remember once I really started to get annoyed at how horrible he was…

    • +1, although I am completely unimpressed with Corona. In the middle he didn’t do anything, and on the wing he doesn’t have the physical tools to compete.

  17. Without the benefit of replay and camera angles, (first cap with AO, n’all) Brek Shea & Stu Holden looked electrifying, Diskerud looked a far sight better than either Beckerman or Torres, and Wondo looked like a befuddled old man in the middle of a Wall St. trading session. (Yes, he scored, but only after a horrendous first touch that, against a team that wasn’t beaten down like a rescue puppy, would have been gobbled up.)

    JK– please, do not use JFT or Where’s Wondo anymore. Against a weak GUA squad, they STILL couldn’t hack it. It’s time to give someone else a shot.

    • JFT showed some skill, give hime a chance with Holden, and not with Beckermen. If JFT just ran a little more he would be so much better.

      • Torres and Corona showed how they are not ready for prime time. Mixx and Holden were better at finding people and keeping possession. Torres seemed to make repeated bad passes when some clock in his head would go off. Mixx and Holden actually seemed to play the ball faster and more one or two touch but also seemed to find someone when they did it.

        I’m not sure what the senior sales pitch on Torres and Corona is right now. What’s the upside? What do they add? Cause what I saw was two mediocre players stalemating with Guatemala. People knock hot and cold players but at least an inconsistent guy shows me something.

      • But that’s it, Torres doesn’t run. Hes a deep lying player that can’t play defence and doesn’t cover any ground. He’s a liability when we play real teams. Bradley, Jones, Holden, Cameron, and Mixx have all shown a better ability to advance the ball and thread the final p@ss.

      • Totally agree with this. I’ve always been a big fan of JFT’s. I like his vision, calmness on the ball, and ability to distribute. He is not an attacking center mid and he’s not a defensive mid. Granted, he’s had a lot of chances, and he’s disappointed in a lot of those games. At te same time, he’s been asked to play roles which he is not suited for. I’d love to see him paired with Holden.

      • Does any of you actually think he’d be an upgrade over Diskerud as Holden’s partner? Diskerud was incredibly smooth and quick on the ball. JFT’s decision-making is a step slow and his off-ball movement isn’t very good. Unlike Bradley or Holden (or Diskerud) he doesn’t really create space for himself by moving off-ball. Once he receives the ball, any pressure on him whatsoever guarantees that his next pass will at best be lateral, and he was never quick enough in switching the point of attack. I don’t see JFT doing anything Diskerud doesn’t do.

    • You are wrong regarding Wondo. His first touch actually took him away from 2 defenders and with just the keeper left, he scored. Also, he made a difficult return pass to Holden that setup Donavon’s goal. His movement made space for both Goodson’s and Bedoya’s goals (on Goodson’s goal his movement was probably intended to get himself to the ball, but the keeper knocked it back toward Goodson). Wondo is still the only player from any nation who has been at the top of MLS scoring for 3 years. He has consistently scored more than any other US player in MLS; Dempsey, Mcbride, Donavon, Gomez, Altidore and Aguedelo have all scored at a lower rate than Wondo, admittedly some of those guys are (or were when in MLS) earlier in their careers than Wondo is, but still they could not score at the rate he does in MLS. Disparaging the guy who has consistently led the domestic league for over 3 years, especially when none of his competitors have been able to do that is uncalled for.

    • Danged moderation:

      You are wrong regarding Wondo. His first touch actually took him away from 2 defenders and with just the keeper left, he scored. Also, he made a difficult return p@ss from Holden’s weak bounce to him that setup Donavon’s goal. His movement made space for both Goodson’s and Bedoya’s goals (on Goodson’s goal his movement was probably intended to get himself to the ball, but the keeper knocked it back toward Goodson). Wondo is still the only player from any nation who has been at the top of MLS scoring for 3 years. He has consistently scored more than any other US player in MLS; Dempsey, Mcbride, Donavon, Gomez, Altidore and Aguedelo have all scored at a lower rate than Wondo, admittedly some of those guys are (or were when in MLS) earlier in their careers than Wondo is, but still they could not score at the rate he does in MLS. Disparaging the guy who has consistently led the domestic league for over 3 years, especially when none of his competitors have been able to do that is uncalled for.

      • +1
        It’s the little things that count, and Wondo certainly does them.
        He’ll be an excellent coach when his playing days are over.

  18. I don’t know if I can give a coach high marks for being stubborn. Landon scores 2 on Guatemala, team scores 6, and it reflects Klinsi’s motivation? They only beat them 3-1 last fall without him and Mixx (and Holden, though that was injury). I don’t know if it makes you a better coach for the team to improve and the excluded player to look good when you finally cave on some vendetta.

    Similarly, when the team takes off when you make subs, are you perceiving the talent correctly? Mixx has played well for us and had a gorgeous Russia equalizer, and Holden was also on another planet from the deteriorated Torres and the punchless Corona. But who did he start? Don’t forget Mixx has been on his own Coach’s Decision sabbatical from dressing for the first team.

    Sorry, but the defense didn’t even look like it played together, the midfield was having trouble stringing passes in the first half, and it looked like he started a lot of the wrong people. The team is playing well and getting results but I also think we’re in a Golden Age offensively. Klinsi’s job right now is to start the right people and get out of its way.

  19. With last night’s performance, I hope this means we’ve seen the last of Beckerman in a USMNT kit. Donovan, Holden and Diskerud now how to control a midfield and showed the creativity that was lacking with Beckerman, Torres and Corona.

    • Agree – Beckerman’s play disqualifies him even as a starter for the Gold Cup

      I can imagine the following conversation:

      Klinsmann: Now Becky, I want you to concentrate on getting the ball back to Goodson and Gooch. Our offense is going revolve around getting the ball to the centerbacks and letting them distribute. As far as defense is concerned, just foul whoever has the ball.
      Beckerman: Can do, coach

    • I think you need someone doing the dirty work and Beckerman can do it just fine alongside better attackers than who started last night.

      • I don’t think that’s necessarily true. The more danger players the USA can get in the lineup the better. We don’t have guys who can create a lot on their own — Dempsey sometimes and Donovan, but neither are consistently dangerous enough to carry the load. They need help…which is why I would plug Holden in for Jones in the starting lineup. Our defense is pretty shaky when we’re playing better competition, and we need to keep those other teams honest by having players that retain possession and produce dangerous opportunities.

      • I agree it is hard to tell if Beckerman and Torres were not as good as Holden and Diskerud or if as the Guatemalian defense and midfield got tired and demoralized that things simply got too easy for the US midfield. Truly, there was no midfield pressure from Guatemala in the second half and Holden and Diskerud used the time and space to play good balls to teammates. Impossible to know if they would have done the same if the opposition had actually put up some resistance.

      • I’m not saying Beckerman was “as good” as Holden and/or Diskerud. Apples and oranges. I’m saying for tactical balance you need the DM to do his job and destroy and free up the attackers to wreak havoc. All three can/should be used together and compliment each other.

        This may be an abstract point for Guate but when we play CR or Mexico it will matter if you have a role playing DM when we have to defend counters or fend off possession on our own end.

      • I would agree. I’m betting you see a Beckerman-Holden midfield against Belize.

        I don’t understand why people are so down on Beckerman’s performance while giving Castillo a pass. While he and Beasley did provide some danger, his inabilty to keep posession derailed most of the US opportunities moving forward. He was aweful.

  20. Klinsmann put out a Mexican League midfield plus Beckerman, then spent the half yelling at them for not having enough tempo. (And I would love to know whose idea it was to send Donovan up top. I’d bet it was Donovan’s) So to me, he gets knocked down a grade for putting out a team that did not match his tactical objectives. The subs did, but you have to wonder why it took him that long to get there.

      • That’s not the way he phrased it. In fact, immediately after the game his comment was very ambiguous. He said “we talked about it…”

    • Not sure if it was Klinsmann or Donovan who went over there. I had a perfect view of the conversation. Donovan called klinsmann over and said something than Klinnsman shook his head yes, then next thing you knew Landon was up top and missed a goal by about fibe inches, and then he was in Landon mode

      • Thanks. That’s significant, as was LD’s ambiguity about it later. He made Klinsmann look good….and Klinsmann likes to look good.

    • That’s what I saw. The Liga MX players playing short passes. Klinsmann is still of two minds on what he wants. The decision to change came at the 30th minute when Joe Benny went out right and Landon went up top. In the post game interview Landon said that he and Jürgen talked and made the change.

    • That’s what I saw. The Liga MX players playing short pa$$es. Klinsmann is still of two minds on what he wants. The decision to change came at the 30th minute when Joe Benny went out right and Landon went up top. In the post game interview Landon said that he and Jürgen talked and made the change.

    • Klinsmann is right. The best way to break down a deliberate “park the bus” defense is to move the ball very quickly and exploit weaknesses. In this case the wings were to be attacked as,although the Guatemalans were quick, they were not “fast”, they were, with an exception or two, not very crosses in to the box or route one balls could be effective. But the US was moving too slow and deliberate with more back passing and few runs into space and fewer into the box.

      It was only when Torres got to the wings, the passes got better, and the movement, especially the speed of movement, improved, did the passes and runs to the box started paying off with goal scoring. I think the initial movement by the Liga MX players is very typical of deliberate Mexican “ball at the feet” dribbling and slower deliberate passing football. Players like Beasley, Gomez and Corona who have played in US leagues or under US coaches, but have played and know this type of Mexican football, but they also have experience running fast tempo, fast passing, attack minded football that Klinsmann like to play. Castillo understand his role in getting up field and was effective, But Torres, unless he changes his attacking style will be the odd man out.

      But as I pointed out before, once a goal was scored by the US, the dynamics changed and with Guatemala having to come out of it’s defensive shell, the US hammered them with fast paced attacking football.

  21. I thought Castillo, Beckerman, Torres, Parkhurst left a lot to be desired out there and all of those guys started. I understand that Guatemala’s pressure decreased after the first 30 minutes, but I truly hope we’ll trot out this team on Tuesday and beyond in this tournament:

    Torres (passing ability)—-Donovan—————-Bedoya/Corona

    The defense didn’t get much work, so I left it unchanged, but I figure we should at least try Torres up on the LW if Shea is leaving for Stoke. His passing ability appears to be his forte, and I think this attack would surely give us a favorable position throughout the Gold Cup.

  22. Just going to throw out there that part of the reason Rimando is out there off his line is the CBs were shaky and not real mobile. Guatemala just didn’t put much pressure to create anything. They had some communication issues and didn’t switch right on a single man sometimes, which may be a problem when we play a real offense.

    Tale of two halves in CM, Mixx and Holden were as good as Torres and Corona were sloppy and anonymous. Their issue is going to be how to fit them in the A side, but I think they’re better than EJ and Zusi.

    Shea looked awful to me.

    Gomez was involved but seemed to be missing a goatee. Landon also seemed to make his case. Wondo was anonymous and basically had a deflection fall in his lap. Bruin was playing like he has been for Houston lately which is not very good.

    • It seemed to me that both of the mix ups that I saw were Rimando’s fault. The centerbacks seemed to have the ball covered and a simple lay off to Rimando would have been fine. However, he rushed out and made it more complicated.

      • He has a lot of confidence with the ball at his feet, which you don’t seem to share. But in fairness he’s better-acquainted with his body of work than you are.

      • From my experience as a defender, the GK coming out that fast reflects a lack of faith in the defense. What he was doing was risky and nearly blew up on him, but I’m sure he’s concerned Goodson and Gooch are glacial so he’s thinking I need to be sweeper keeper.

        Lest we forget there were 2-3 times Beckerman mopped up falling back also.

        Yes ideally Rimando is not out that far and some were poor choices but I think he’s coming out because he’s not trusting the CBs to handle affairs facing their own net.

      • So if you are doing your job but someone doesn’t trust you to do it and makes it harder, whose fault is that? I think Rimando should let the centerbacks do their job and then let them get the blame if they mess up. If Rimando does that against better teams, it leads to goals. Then its Rimando’s fault, not the CBs.

      • I didn’t think the CBs were playing that great so that’s why I view this different.

        I felt like some of the individual decisions to come out were poor but he’s relying on two slow defenders who’ve been exposed in the past year and so it looked like he felt some pressure to cover. Beckerman seemed to have the same concern. This was Guatemala in a high sub friendly, I’m going to be worried what CR or Mexico could do to them…..but Belize and Cuba I think we can hack.

      • Your rationale for rimando taking unnecessary risks is b.s. so instead of letting the CBs work things out in a meaningless friendly, let’s get in a habit of poor decisions that will get punished by better teams.

        Goods and Gooch were not playing poorly. Rimando was taking risks and making poor decision, period. Not trusting teammates, if that’s even what it was, is bs excuse. Do your job.

        No one player was perfect and every shot on goal or actual goal is the fault of the back line. Get some perspective and lose the bias.

      • You’re forgetting the time both CBs left a guy standing by himself in the middle and Beckerman had to bail them out, and a few other issues they had. They were effective enough but that was Guate that didn’t even make the Hex or Gold Cup.

        And from a practical perspective it can in fact make you nervous and affect decision making if you think you have to cover for two giraffe CBs. I admitted he made some poor decisions but I lack your apparent confidence in two slow CBs who didn’t look very coordinated.

    • 1. I think it would be hard to make an argument that Zusi shouldn’t start for the senior team. From what I’ve seen, Zusi is excellent and more impressive everytime I see him.

      2. To be fair, Shea looked fast and dangerous, just very rusty. He needs to touch the ball a few million times. His crosses especially were often attrocious.

      3. Wondo had a deflection fall in his lap because he was in the right place for deflections to fall. There is skill and vision in being able to find those kinds of goals. It would be churlish to suggest otherwise.

      • Hard to make an argument? Landon had two goals and Holden and Mixx looked routinely dangerous. Argument right there.

        I didn’t think Shea looked fast or even particularly fit, which I thought might explain the quality of his final ball. He did display some soccer IQ but I saw someone struggling to execute what he’d thought up. Not washing him out because he is an upside guy, but we have tons of talent right now so to play he needs to translate the talent into production. For us that means get fit and sharp and then come back.

        Wondo has always been a good poacher, he will finish those kinds of goals. My concerns go more to the general anonymity otherwise. The ball falling into your path doesn’t mean you’re playing well or international quality.

      • I think anyone who thinks Zusi should start, if that means Donovan sits has lost the plot. However, it’s not out of the question that Donovan could get the nod at left wing, so that both are in the lineup.

        I”m not the coach, and I frequently disagree with JK, but I’ll allow that some of his moves have convinced me to find places on my 23-man roster.

        If I’m picking 23:

        Goalie: Howard – Guzan – Hamid(?)

        LB: F. Johnson – Beasley

        CB: Besler – Gonzalez – Cameron – Goodson

        RB: Cherundolo – Chandler – Evans

        LM: Donovan (F.Johnson/Beasley)

        CM: Bradley – Holden – Jones – Diskerud

        RM: Zusi – Bedoya

        F: Altidore – Dempsey – Gomez – E. Johnson

        Outside, looking in right now: Bocanegra, D. Williams, Edu, Kljestan, Davis, Bruin/McInerney, Wondolowski and Boyd

        Personally, I still think Boca belongs there, and if he ever gets another, fair look, I think he would supplant Gonzalez in the starting lineup.. but I give JK props for giving Besler and Gonzo the chance to prove themselves. Besler’s done that. For me, Gonzo reminds me too much of Onyewu…mistake waiting to happen…but without the presence that Oyewu offered.

        As for the fourth forward slot, I think EJ has the nod right now because of his speed, but I think Wondo, Bruin, McInerney and Boyd could still play themselves on to the roster.

        I haven’t been all that impressed by Chandler when I’ve seen him, but I think he probably has the back-up slot to Cherundolo, depending on how he looks if and when he ever plays for the USA again.

        As for the 3rd goalie slot — I expect Hamid will get it, not because he’s the best choice now, but because of his upside. If he’s going to realize his potential, the kid needs better coaching than he’s been getting.

      • My outside looking in list, should I guess, include Castillo. Not that I think he should even be in the mix, but JK does.

      • I think you’re glossing over the fact that Donovan looked pretty bad when he played on the wing. He was tentative and lost the ball a few times. When he moved centrally he was better, and when he moved up top (or closer to the top) he was dynamite. Zusi has shown that he can put in the work rate defensively, and while he’s not a burner, he has the skill to get himself a few inches to play in a cross. Not to mention his service has allowed Altidore to flourish.

        Re: Chandler, I think we all forget that he had us drooling when he first played with the USMNT. Yes, he played horribly in Honduras, but so did 80% of our roster. And yes, it’s been awhile since he’s played well (or, actually, just played) with us, but he’s still quality.

      • But Zusi does not bring goals. And to suggest Donovan can’t play wing and provide service is silly. He and Zusi are alike in many ways now, except Donovan has experience, more speed, and tucks in to provide goals.

      • Wrong. Zusi does bring goals. And wrong. I don’t want Donovan out left playing the wing and providing service. Fabian Johnson is much better at that. Donovan is the odd man out. Zusi out right. FJ out left. Donovan will need to find a spot elsewhere. Now that he’s back, people are so quick to forget that we CAN move on without him. With 4 matches yet to play, we are leading the Hex, 6 points clear of being denied an automatic spot in the World Cup, and all without Donovan. Everyone needs to stop putting him on some grand pedestal. He can definitely help us but he is no longer the Messiah which countless USMNT fans made him out to be. The Messiah is still coming…but Donovan’s more of a “prophet” type of character, if anything. To wrap up my point, yes, we can use him, but everyone needs to stop acting like we can’t do it without him. We’ll be fine and JK knows it.

      • Donovan just brings a much greater goal threat than zusi ever can. Donovan is the United States best ever player, our all time leading scorer and assist leader and, of particular importance, world cup goal scorer (with 5). Given that it is clear to me that he still has it, I would play him every game over Zusi. It is also important to remember that Donovan has a lot more experience playing against World Cup competition; zusi on the other hand only has experience playing MLS and CONCAFF level opponents. Ideally, I would be happy with both on the field.

      • Donovan just brings a much greater goal threat than zusi ever can. Donovan is the United States best ever player, our all time leading scorer and a$ sist leader and, of particular importance, world cup goal scorer (with 5). Given that it is clear to me that he still has it, I would play him almost every game over Zusi. It is also important to remember that Donovan has a lot more experience playing against World Cup level competition; zusi on the other hand only has experience playing MLS and CONCAFF level opponents. Ideally, I would be happy with both on the field.

      • Sorry, Ceez, but Colin has it right. Donovan is neither messiah nor prophet. But at his best he’s the closest thing the USA has to a world-class player. It makes no sense to suggest that he should ride the bench in favor of Zusi who, at best, is a very good player by MLS standards.

        I’m not sure what you mean when you say that “everyone needs to stop acting like we can’t do it without him,” and that “we’ll be fine” without him, That depends entirely on what we’re trying to accomplish. Sure, we can field a team without him. And it now seems clear that, even without him, we can qualify for Brazil. But “doing fine” is not what we really want, is it? We want to field the best possible team and do as well as we possibly can in Brazil. I think it’s obvious that we can do that with Zusi sitting on the bench but can’t do it without Donovan on the field.

      • Agree w/ Donovan comment and almost entire 23. I would switch Brad Evans out for Lichaj, which will happen by next year anyway, but agree generally. It is funny how the comments about Gonzo’s attributes and failures often mirror the ones about Onyewu, except Onyewu is more dominant in the air, has slightly less mistakes and is bigger. With one tall, slow CB, we need a fast guy who passes well, like Besler. I prefer experience in the tall guy, and overall size to push guys around in the box.

      • Here’s the argument: Donovan looked shaky and tentative on the wing, and fantastic and decisive when played centrally. Mixx is not a winger, and while Holden can play there, you can see what he can do when played centrally as well.

        Also, Shea was pretty dangerous. He did what we’ve been lacking on the A side: hug the touchline and storm forward. He offered real width.

      • 1) This was Guatemala, not Hex opposition. Let’s not get TOO worked up about Landon & Holden’s performances against third-tier opposition.

        2) Landon has in the past, played on the outside better than centrally against quality opposition. I think his problems outside in THIS match go down to sloppy midfield play by Torres, Corona, and Beckerman. He can and has played the left side well (and he and Zusi could flip wings in game as well).

        3) Playing LD centrally in JK’s typical formation means dropping one of Deuce, Altidore, or MB. Anyone seeing one of these three dropping from the starting XI is kidding themselves, as that’s the axis that drives the team.

        4) If Holden can play this well against stronger opposition (and that’s still an outstanding question), I’d prefer him over Jones/Cameron whoever else partners with MB. But not over Bradley.

      • Imperative voice – your comments sound completely wrong – you don’t now soccer, so keep your comments to yourself (I am sure you never played the game at a high level) –

      • jj… your attitude isn’t welcome here. If your not allowed to be a fan an voice an opinion, none of us would be here. Then the National team would have no fans, and the whole thing would dry up. If you care about quality soccer it is average people having opinions that will help develop it’s popularity and eventually its success.

      • So only people who play at a high level are allowed to make comments on a soccer blog? Well someone is a little full of themselves.

      • I’m going to have to agree with KFre up top…lose the bias. I sense a heavy dose of bias because that “argument” is extremely poor and embarrassingly self-serving. Landon had two goals…yeah, against Guatemala, in a friendly. Holden and Mixx looked routinely dangerous (whatever that means as far as solidifying your argument)…again, against Guatemala, in a friendly. Zusi has been doing it at a high level, with great performances, during Qualifiers. Let’s keep things in perspective.

      • I also thought the danger side in the recent spate of quali games was the other — left — side.

      • Zusi is overrated. Too slow for the wing, and not as good as the other options we have int he middle.

      • Having seen Zusi make 60 yard recovery runs to track down quick wingers in both MLS and CONCACAF, I can honestly say you’re grasping at straws. Anyone saying Zusi lacks pace is out to lunch.

        There are two wing positions, and I’d say that assuming Landon plays at a high level through the Gold Cup, partnering him and Zusi is a much better option than any other two people who have been trotted out to fill those positions.

      • Lol.. A few million times,… I would like to have seen him attack the goal, maybe take a few more shots as opposed to some of his crosses.

    • Agreed. Not sure how Ives can say Mix didn’t earn a spot when Holden was only a hair better than him. If Shea knew how to put away the two breakaways Mix gave him, his numbers would be as good as Holden’s.

      Who’s better? Torres wasn’t and hasn’t been since circa 2010. And Beckerman is too limited. Together, Holden and Mix bossed the midfield not with tackles but smart passing and movement. In other words possession. It’s how Klinsi wants to play and that duo did it.

      To bench Mix sends the wrong message about youth. He earned it in 45 minutes when Beckerman and Torres haven’t in the hours they’ve been given. It’s also not taking into account his assist and goal in other games when he again made the difference.

      This Gold Cup is about trying new things. Holden and Mix to lead us.

      • Never said anybody “didn’t earn” a spot. My point is given Klinsmann’s preferences, I don’t see him benching Beckerman. Get it straight.

    • I go back to scoring consistency. In the last set of grades after a qualifier, MB played on a new level, according to Ives, and was awarded a 7.5. In a hex game.

      Here we have Holden getting an 8 and even Mix getting a 7, in a friendly against Guatemala. I’m glad we’ll have Diskerud with us once he’s cap tied, and Holden obviously is more back than not from injuries, but neither is MB, at least not at the moment. All this game showed was the two of them could control the midfield against Guatemala. That’s great to see, but their performances should be kept in context of the opposition.

      • Mixx had the equalizer against Russia last fall, the winning assist against South Africa in 2010. He also had a goal and 3 assists for the U23s. Then he had yesterday. Not his fault JK and the average fan seem to forget about him between appearances.

      • Took the words right out of mouth. And it was a Guatemala b team. Though both looked good (Diskerud and Holden) I still don’t think either have made a statement for a starting wing spot. I still feel like Fabian Johnson is the best wing option we have, and Zusi has been sensational as of late so it’s hard to imagine either one losing their spots, even if there are some stellar gold cup performances. I think the best thing to take away is that the USMNT is finally starting to score in bunches on a consistent basis. Hopefully they keep it up and make some noise in the World Cup.

    • The goalkeeper -centerback mixups seemed to me to be due to the fact that Rimando, Goodson and Gooch haven’t exactly played together a whole lot and Nick is a little unconventional.

      There next two games, Belize and Cuba should be blowouts on par with this limp display by Guatemala so NIck and the boys have time to work things out.

    • Holden and Mixx were, indeed, brilliant controlling the middle. Torres had a few good touches but was mostly crowded out, Corona was simply trying too hard. EJ and Zusi don’t play the same positions or even have close to the same roles as Holden/Mixx so I’m not sure where that comparison comes from. And last, it was one meaningless friendly against a far weaker Guatemalan team, let’s let them gel a few matches in the GC and WCQ (if possible) before annointing them as replacements for anyone.

      • I’m not sure how this comment got way down here, but it was meant as a reply/response to “The Imperative Voice” discussing Rimando a bit up the page. My apologies if it makes no sense..;^)

  23. I don’t think the team is getting enough credit for the first half performance. The team was calm and patient, keeping possession well and not forcing balls over the top. I am giving Klinsmann and the starters the benefit of the doubt, assuming the tactic at the start was to get settled in and control the game.


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