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SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Sean Johnson

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On a night when the U.S. Men’s National Team attack struggled to break down Costa Rica’s stingy defense, the American defense didn’t have the busiest night. On the handful of occasions when the Ticos did manage to create dangerous chances, Sean Johnson was there to deal with the danger, and keep Costa Rica from pulling off the upset.

Johnson made two saves, including a game-changing stop in the 81st minute, tipping a Carlos Johnson header onto the crossbar just seconds before the U.S. marched down the field and scored the winning goal. Johnson’s clutch late save, and his command of the penalty area, made him the pick for SBI USMNT Man of the Match.

Johnson beat out a cast of candidates that included Landon Donovan, Stuart Holden, Clarence Goodson and Brek Shea.

Who did you think deserved USMNT Man of the Match? Cast your vote after the jump:

  • Sean Johnson
  • Landon Donovan
  • Stuart Holden
  • Clarence Goodson
  • Brek Shea
  • Michael Orozco
  • Mix Diskerud

Who do vote for? What did you think of Johnson’s performance?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. How about Beasley? What about that horrific knee to his temple and how he got back up and played his game? And, although I’ll get dumped on for this, I have to say that, as they played the national anthem, I looked at Johnson and Beasley and wondered what they must be feeling with the Trayvon Martin verdict.

  2. Rock, scissors, paper… possession beats direct, defensive beats possession, and direct beats defensive. All other things being equal, it’s that simple to throw the likely numbers in your favor.

    It is all a numbers game. How many scoring opportunities you create versus how many you allow, and cross-matrixed with the quality of those opportunities. Then there are probabilities about how many scoring opportunities of what quality your players are likely to convert.

    You can’t guarantee a win by doing everything right tactically, but over the course of a season you can guarantee more success than if you don’t do everything right tactically. Tournaments are problemmatic, especially in knock-out rounds, because lesser teams winning a single game here and there just isn’t uncommon. Not quite as common as baseball, but still not uncommon.

    So, when facing a defensive shell, you want to increase your tempo, even rush the attacks a little, because you aren’t going to get too many quality looks – you want to increase the number of lower-quality looks. Plus, with that many opponents behind the ball, the more times you put in the box with some weight, the more you increase the chances of a defensive mistake – what in little kid games often seems like a pinball effect in front of the goal. It won’t happen as often at this level, but we all know it happens. Deflections or other pieces of bad defensive luck can make an otherwise disciplined and determined defensive plan look momentarily foolish.

    And what you absolutely want to avoid is slow build-ups that also, over the course of a game, build up 1) the over-confidence of your middies and defenders that the other team has nothing, and 2) the frustration at not finding a way through the ‘parked bus.’ When too many players react to those two build-ups, you leave yourself wide open for the defensive team’s counters.

    That’s how we beat Spain four years ago. And that’s what Costa Rica was trying to do to us last night. It’s ironic that we caught them on a counter. As mentioned, the key moments in games don’t always correspond to the numbers.

  3. I thought that Johnson had an unimpressive game, except for the two saves. His communication with his defenders was poor, and there was one sequence of 3-4 Costa Rica corner kicks that he left every one to his defenders to head them out of the area, when a hard punch or catch would have been a safer option. In my opinion, there’s a big gap between Nick Rimando and the upcoming goalkeepers. Hopefully they will get enough experience by the time Howard and Guzan retire, but they are not there yet.

  4. A few thoughts on Sean after watching him with the Fire the last couple of years. He is extremely good in the air and capable of very athletic “reaction” saves. His biggest slip ups have been on low bouncing balls that have gotten through defenders and possibly were deflected. In some cases he was probably screened and didn’t see them till the last split second…a difficult ball for any keeper. He may be the most athletic keeper the USA has.

  5. I have always liked Sean Johnson and see tremendous upside potential for him. He seems calmer to me than Bill Hamid, who always worries me that he is going to do something silly and pick up a red card. Johnson’s performance last night has to be giving Klinsmann food for thought and I would not be unhappy to see Johnson moved to USMNT Goalkeeper Number 3 on the depth chart and starting the rest of the Gold Cup. We don’t know what is going to happen with Tim Howard at Everton and is entirely possible that either Howard or Guzan will be injured next summer and would be nice to give Johnson some games between now and then to prepare him.

    • I dislike Rimando and am constantly scared when he is in net, but have seen him make some fine saves. If a match were to go to penalties though…I dunno I would rather have the bigger athlete in there. I agree with the school of thought though that Rimando has earned a WC 2014 spot, but it would be hard not to be tempted to bring in Johnson to expose him to the event.
      I’m not convinced though that Howard won’t also be around in 2018, thus wiping Guzan out of the order and not needing Johnson until he is 30

      • You need to look up the stats on Rimando with penalty kicks. He has one of the highest save percentages in MLS history, blocking nearly 33% of all attempts (19 of 60). He doesn’t have size, but he is amazingly quick for a goalkeeper, and has great reflexes. What Rimando offers is much better distribution going forward. He is extremely accurate with his long balls, which isn’t surprising as he played midfield in his youth.

        I agree that Johnson played a great game, and it is great that we have some talent coming up given the ages of our gk’s ahead of him.

      • As a keeper who failed to advance past high school because of my inability to deliver long balls into the same third of the field I was aiming at consistently, I certainly understand the value of that skill- I guess I just always valued blocking shots and controling the box- to my demise.

        And yeah, Rimando is unbelievably quick

    • An obvious example was when he miss-dribbled at the edge of the 18. A scoring opportunity was transformed into a deflected (and difficult) cross, leading to a corner.

  6. It hasn’t been mentioned much, but this match cap-ties Sean. He has attended Jamaican camps in the past, but this is the 1st full competitive match he has played for with the US.

  7. Although the look on his face begged to differ early on, Sean Johnson was everything you want out of a young keeper, athletic, confidant, well organized, composed and sure-handed. It wasn’t as if he was asked to parry a barrage of attacks but he did everything asked of him and he did it with plenty of composure and made decisions with confidence. If he continues to develop over the next year I would be more than comfortable with him being the No. 3 keeper going to Brazil for the experience… although it would be easy to argue that Rimando’s faithful and consistent service as a reserve UNMNT option over the last decade would allow him the nod out of respect and as a gift for what he has accomplished with his career.

    • I’m of the opinion that if you have 2 top class Goal Keepers (Howard & Guzan) than the 3rd GK spot should be used to expose a young keeper for the future. I would therefore bring Johnson or Hamid (whoever is playing best) as the 3rd GK.
      Now if for some reason Howard or Guzan is either coming back from an injury, has poor form, or riding the bench….Then it makes since to bring a more experienced 3rd GK like Rimando.

  8. Glad SJ got a good run after the U23 disaster.

    I was glad that Jurgen gave some guys a chance. Bedoya didn’t do much for me, but he did have the pa$$ to Wondo, unmarked at the top of the box. Wondo as well was unimpressive, skying the one clear look he got. Not saying he should have scored, but at least get it on frame. I was hoping to see Castillo as LM, and see how he canines w DMB.

    The pairing of Mixx & SH was ok. I think the next game will have Mixx & Beckerman, w Holden coming off the bench.

    • Just not sure what to make of this midfield…We have to change formation against any future 5 man backlines to get more options between the opposing backs and mids. If that’s the case, I think 4-3-2-1 is the way to go, that would change that mix. If we stay the course, it gets tricky IMO. I agree Beckerman gives a little more than SH or Mix from the back, but Mix and Stu were two of the hardest workers last night. And that doesn’t even account for any call ins (Zusi? Sascha? A man even higher up the totem?) I really would be Ok with any combination in that midfield, though I agree something was missing last night, but I contribute it to the Ticos defensive posture more than anything else.

      • IMO a 4-1-3-2 would be the best formation to play against a team determined to play a 5 man back line. With the current players available/alternates I’d go with something along the following the next time we face it in this tournament:
        should provide the defensive coverage needed to break up attacks, while having the creativity to pick apart opponent defenses.

    • Just to be fair to Wondo, when a cross is coming across on the ground like that, it’s much harder to keep down that it seems. If that ball bounces up an extra inch, it sends the kick about 15 degrees higher. There’s a reason it happens so many times to so many professionals, just a much harder concept than it appears especially if it’s traveling a long ways and not rolling directly along the ground.

  9. MOTM clearly goes to Donovan for that beautiful pass. 2nd place should go to Klinnsman for believing in Shea when others would’ve probably sat him.

    • Yes it was a good pass, but one pass doesn’t mean MotM. Donovan was part of the attack that couldn’t get anything going, including his inability to get any power on the rebound.


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