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USA 0, Scotland 0: SBI Player Grades

USA team group

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The first half was forgettable, but the second half was encouraging. That was the best way to sum up the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 0-0 tie vs. Scotland.

The first half was truly forgettable, with the U.S. team lacking energy and offering little in the attack. Sacha Kljestan looked lost in his playmaking role while Eddie Johnson sleepwalked through a lackluster and turnover-filled performance. Then there is Jermaine Jones, who turned in one of those efforts that make you wonder whether he really is the best option to start next to Michael Bradley.

Here is my Goal USA look at Friday’s match, and the main takeaways from the match.

It wasn’t all bad. Aron Johannsson impressed, DaMarcus Beasley restored some faith in his ability to play left back, and Omar Gonzalez looked steady in central defense.

Here is a closer look at how all of the USMNT players fared against Scotland. Here are SBI’s Player Grades for the match:

USMNT Player Grades vs. Scotland

TIM HOWARD- (7). Made the save of the day to deny a Robert Snodgrass free kick. Commanded the penalty area and turned in another strong showing.

BRAD EVANS- (5.5). Active and relatively solid defensively, though he didn’t offer much in the attack. Committed more turnovers than usual.

GEOFF CAMERON- (6). Got caught forward a few times, and looked to show the rust that comes with not seeing reps at centerback. Settled down in the second half and even looked good getting into the attack.

OMAR GONZALEZ- (6.5). A strong outing for Gonzalez, who was outstanding in the air and faced all challenges well. Could have done better with some clearances, but still looked like someone who should be starting in central defense for the foreseeable future.

DAMARCUS BEASLEY (6.5). Needed a good showing after a few recent disappointing ones and he came through with a gem of an outing. He defended well, and also got forward into the attack well. His crosses weren’t exactly accurate, but it was a performance to build on.

JERMAINE JONES (4.5). Looked to be out on a Sunday stroll, offering little in the way of attacking threat or bite in the midfield. Covered a decent amount of ground, but at times he looked disinterested.

MICHAEL BRADLEY (6.5).  His usually steady and effective self, though he was left with more to do than usual as central midfield partners Jones and Kljestan struggled.

SACHA KLJESTAN (5.5). Played in a more advanced role than he’s used to playing and he struggled to get a hold of the match. Had a few good moments, but didn’t provide the attacking threat needed from that position.

EDDIE JOHNSON (4). Didn’t track back, didn’t provide service and couldn’t beat anybody on the dribble. Then there were the turnovers. Other than that he was pretty amazing. Kidding aside, it’s time end the Johnson on the left wing experiment.

ALEJANDRO BEDOYA (6). Provided his trademark hustle, but his surges forward often failed to find teammates to combine with. That was more a product of what others weren’t doing than what Bedoya wasn’t doing.

JOZY ALTIDORE (5). Another frustrating match for Altidore, who received no service in the first half. Things improved in the second half, and he clearly became more involved, but still wasn’t a great performance.

ARON JOHANNSSON (6.5). Very effective finding the game, and chances. He could have done better on at least one of those chances, and had another saved well. His touch is excellent and he combined well, but he did have a few unforced turnovers.

MIX DISKERUD (5.5). Didn’t have the impact you would have hoped given the opportunity, but appeared to have a good connection with Bradley in what could be a midfield partnership we see in future matches.

BREK SHEA (6). Came into the match aggressive and made some things happen, including one great run and pass that should have yielded a goal if Johannsson had finished the chance.

ERIC LICHAJ (NR). Didn’t have much to do in limited minutes.

CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI (NR). Only played nine minutes.

TERRENCE BOYD (NR). Barely played.


What do you think of our grades? See any of them being too generous? Think anybody deserved a better grade than we gave them?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Shea did a great job burning a tired Scottish subs who aren’t preparing for a WC appearance. Hope it helps his confidence, but he needs playing time. Will probably be at the WC anyway though.

  2. It was great seeing the old Shea out there on the wing burning past defenders. We could really use him in form during the World Cup to come off the bench. He clearly needs to go out on loan this winter.

    And then there is Johannsson—a legitimate lock for a super sub.

    But if Dempsey goes down in the World Cup, who will replace him? We have nobody to fill that role behind Jozy. It’s almost better off going with a 4-4-2 and move Donovan or Eddie up top.

  3. “DaMarcus Beasley restored some faith in his ability to play left back”

    True, but I take that as a BAD thing. DMB is okay at LB, but he’s not great. He will be devoured by tougher competition—and I don’t just mean from superpowers like Germany, Brazil, etc. The problem with him doing well against Scotland is that it hides the fact that we really need a better option for LB.

    • The only better option is Fabian, who I think should be our left back next summer, but Klinsmann seems to believe Beasley is the no.1 at that position.

      • Imperative Voice: You’re right, but I think the problem is better expressed as, “FabJo looked way better as LM than as LB.” In some of those matches he was tremendous as LM, so it makes it hard to imagine him elsewhere. (That said, he needs to be imagined at LB because we have other options for LM. Those alternatives may not be our best possible LM, but they would be our best combined LM+LB.)

        DC Josh: “The only better option [that we have really tried] is Fabian.” Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I can only remember three players who’ve recently played at LB: DMB, FabJo, and Castillo (with Chandler and Parkhurst getting a look last year). All things considered: FabJo > DMB >> Castillo > Parkhurst (Chandler is in absentee mode so can’t be discussed).

        I see only two more likely options to test: Lichaj and Spector—not that I have any hope that they will be tested.

  4. Wondolowski is a great player! Period! The negative comments show that someone feels that his choices are not given enough weight. Change your mindset and get down to earth soccer is a game, and Wondolowski knows how to play. He may not be as flashy with his hairdo. He may not have the step-overs some people seem to require for excellence. But he gets results when he is given a chance. He deserves more playing time.

    Eddie Johnson did not show any strength in this game. He and Atidore did not score. The defense deserves praise, but the offense had little to offer until substitutes like Wondolowski and Boyd were put in. The few minutes they played, showed that goals would have been scored if they had been put in earlier, in the 60th minute or so. By the way I am not paid for my opinion.

    • Some consistent Wondow t-rolls on this site. Just ignore.

      And yes, EJ… not a winger. He and Wondo either come on with 10 minutes left and the need for a set-piece goal, or they don’t see the field imo.

  5. Evans was forced into desperation plays on at least two occasions – once where he was called for the foul and once where he was deemed to have made a clean sliding tackle in the penalty area. In neither case did desperation mode seem necessary, but just required solid defensive work. Sorry, but if this is what Scottish wingers (Conway?) do to him, imagine what the likes of Eden Hazard would. Yes, he is more comfortable away from the touchline than most fullbacks, and he does chip in an occasional goal, but really, our fullbacks going to the World Cup need to be menacing and marauding, rather than menaced and marauded.

  6. It kills me how many opportunities Sasha the clown Klejstan gets. Guy is horrible, but yet for some odd reason USMNT coaching believes his club performances will translate over. Bring Adu instead, he has done more in a us jersey in less time than wack Sasha. Guy is garbage.

    EJ such an elite player against ok competition. Enough said. He should be in Seatless unless one of our 4 Forwards get injured.

    Wondolousy. This guy reminds me of the manager at one of the CICI pizza joints in dfw. Guy should never eva Eva eva leave San Jose.

    Howard, AJ, bedoya, Cameron, and Gonzo had a decent game. Bradley was the best player imo. Guy just does all the small stuff on the field to control the temple which gets passed on a lot. Dude is raw and definitely a Xavi type player. I use to believe he was a solid player. Now I consider him to be much more than just solid.

    • I agree with the sentiment on Sacha, EJ & Wondo, but Adu is not the answer. Guy wouldn’t start for most MLS teams, not gonna be our offensive savior.

  7. Ives, as usual, you are too stingy with your grades. Kevin Bacon was good for an 8 and could have been a 10 if he finished his chances. Very dangerous going forward.

  8. I saw Beasley consistently pass the ball back to Howard or the CBs, without even looking to making a move upfield, either with the ball at his feet or through a pass to the Mids or forwards. Also saw some woeful, unmarked or lightly marked crosses aren’t worthy of a professional winger… can someone who “knows the game” explain how Beasley is thought of as playing well in that game?

    • I really don’t like Beasley at LB, but in fairness and to set the record straight: he only passed to Howard 3 times—out of 48 total passes. He passed to Cameron 10 times, but EJ 9 times and Jozy 5 times. Etc.

  9. Bedoya deserves to be dinged for not tracking back defensively. Scotland’s best chances came from the same scenario repeated at least 3 times: Cameron steps up into the midfield, Scotland finds a forward with the ball at his feet centered on the net at the 18 defended solely by Omar, Evans (correctly) slides over to provide cover, Scottish winger runs into open space to our right while Bedoya is nowhere to be seen, 15-20 yards upfield. Once they found the pass and a winning goal probably should have resulted, two other times they didn’t find the pass even though the player was equally open.

    • The USA has gotta move forward from this defense mentality. What you described is good for a draw. If the USA wants to score goals Bedoya cannot be relied on to do what you said. We have 6, count em, 6 defenders on the field (2 def mids). Evans should not shift out and must stay on his man. It is the job of the 4 central defensive players to do what you described. We need Bedoya up the field more to be able to combine with Jozy. If we practiced your method, we would have only players (out CAM and ST) attacking at a time. No man can huff and puff up the field like you are asking.

      • A wing mid has to play two ways. You might want wingbacks picking up slack but if they are planted back marking all the time then the ball will sit on our end, or be hoofed forward.

        FWIW, I didn’t see enough good from Bedoya to justify it. You have to be creating chances like Shea to justify sloughing. We allow Davis to roam forward with Ashe behind him in Houston because Davis piles up assists.

      • There are other ways to fix it so Bedoya doesn’t have that responsibility – keep Cameron home, rotate a DM back to help Omar when Cameron steps up. OK to argue about that in the locker room afterward. But as soon as Bedoya sees neither of those is happening and a guy is running right by him into space, he has to have the field awareness to track that runner. That’s the difference between someone who looks good in friendlies and lower-level competition and someone you want on the pitch in a World Cup. Zusi would have been there, so would Donovan.

  10. A note for Ives:
    I don’t mind reading your stuff over there, but…Please tell the Goal. com people to work on their website. The main page especially is terribly cluttered and displeasing to look at. With a few exceptions, it is difficult to tell what content is being highlighted or what falls in to which category. It’s like someone had too many ideas and couldn’t edit or visualize effectively.

    [Or maybe it’s just me.?]

    • I agree with you 100%. The website is an awful website. When I first when on it I thought it a joke that Ives worked for them. The content is not very good and the layout is awful. Plus Ives moving has made SBI a worse website. Really disappointed with the move. I just wish that improved more and SBI hadn’t regressed. Happy American Soccer Now has stepped up their game recently.

  11. Agree more or less with the ratings. I’d put Evans a little lower maybe…that one sequence where he gave the ball away then committed a dangerous foul really made him look exposed.

    We’ve got to see more of AJ. Seems like the perfect complement to Jozy, as AJ moves everywhere and makes great runs. Thought bedoya looked quite good. He’s really improved in the last yera.

    • I hope, and suspect this will be the case, that we get to see another LB get considerable minutes, probably Lichaj (as opposed to Cameron since JK seems to prefer him centrally). I still wish Chandler could be an option for this team but I won’t criticize JK for not calling him in, there’s obviously more going on than just an ability problem.

    • I thought Cameron and then Lichaj were the weakest defenders. Cameron continues to get pulled out of spot, which a CB can’t do, and Lichaj just looked nervous. I assume Lichaj gets more time in Austria, but he has to use it better.

  12. IMO Jozy deserves a 4.5 because he didn’t do much & missed a great chance and Sacha should have the same score because he didn’t do much either. So if Klinsi plays these two again with EJ, and Jones is on a holiday again, then it will be an easy victory for the Austria Knaben.

    • We were witness to Old Jozy, whose touch is failing him, and who can’t seem to get into a good holding spot to either leave the ball off or turn himself.

      I know people wanted him to make the Big Move but his recent run of form came off playing for AZ.

  13. Against Austria I would like to see:





    • I have various preferences for what I want to see but frankly I would be okay with Howard playing up top if only we could get Bradley and Kliestjan paired up in the middle. Just for one game I want to see that.

      • I’d like to see that as well. Bradley/Kljestan under maybe Mix or eventually Dempsey.

        In the formation Klinsmann started with, I would have expected to see Mix, not Kljestan as the more advanced CM. And when going with just two CMs, I don’t think Mix does as well. It just seemed like he had them both playing roles that didn’t suit them within the formations we saw. (sorry if my wording is confusing)

      • I’d also like to see Bradley paired with Kljestan, with Bradley on the field and Kljestan providing him high quality H2O. Kljestan is overrated in terms of incisive passing, not a productive scorer for the Nats, not a destroyer.

      • But is Kljestache better than the hit-or-miss Jones? I’d say yes. (Cam is even better, so I’d prefer Cam > Stache > Jones.)

  14. Caught Brazil dismantle Honduras and think the US should play a similar 4-2-1-3. Seems to me that Jurgen’s desire to play with “wingers” doesn’t match the fact that we don’t really have any with next-level quality. Bedoya and Zusi are really midfielders who JK pushes out wide, Shea isn’t nearly consistent enough, Fabian Johnson is probably closest to a wide player, but he seems much more valuable as a back given the limited options there. Donovan can play there, but he often gets lost for long periods out wide. On the other hand, consider Mixx fronted by Donovan, JA and AJ. Or Donovan fronted by Dempsey, JA and AJ. Or Dempsey fronted by Donovan, JA, and AJ. Or Mixx fronted by Dempsey, Altidore and Donovan. Any of those options, which necessarily push our forwards higher, seem preferable to wing play leaving Altidore by himself with no one to play off. So here’s my 11 for Brazil:
    FJ–OG–MB–SC (he’ll be back)

    Seems like a much stronger lineup than anything with Bedoya, Zusi ior Shea in it.

    • So the game was bad so he can’t get credit for playing well? Got it. That’s pretty dumb. He played well, whether you like it or not.

    • You really think Jones deserved a good grade? Come on. He was a non factor and part of the reason things looked so flat in the first half. Maybe compared to some other guys he looked good by comparison but there’s no way he had a good game. Just didn’t.

    • Are you kidding? Jones had a couple of very bad giveaways that against a better team would’ve undoubtedly led to scoring opportunities, and of course his obligatory once-a-game completely mistimed and totally unnecessary sliding tackle in the opponent’s half that led to Howard’s only impressive save of the game.

      In any case, I don’t really see how any non-defender, except for Johannsson and Shea, could earn anything higher than a 4.

    • Isn’t Jermain Jones still struggling with an injury?. He was slated to be operated on, but changes his mind. He has seen more of the bench at Schalke and I do think it has affected his play for the USMNT, But I do think he is one of the better defensive midfielders the US has I think he did ann adequate and workmanlike job of holding tghe defense to allow MB to go forward more. The problem there was the back line struggled to link up with the midfield in the first half.

      Omar Gonzales had a good game, but the game fed into one of his strengths, defense against the aerial attack, which is prevalent and common in Scottish and English football.The important part of the equation is that he had a good enough game with Cameron, who was playing outside of his position for his club. It is important that the defensive backs both center and full, play well together in differing combinations as the WC throw injuries,suspensions and all sorts of styles of play are conditions that the US team has to adapt to.

    • Jones plays too many errant long balls. He also doesn’t cover the back four that well often lunging in. Isnt keeping possession and diffusing pressure really what we want from that spot?

    • I agree, if you’re gonna give Jermaine Jones a grade like that, than the rest of the team deserves it also. He made a few tape to tape long switches of play that were brilliant. Lets just face it, the match was meaningless and boring. Nobody hurt or helped their chances to go to Brazil 14. Surprising for a friendly,

    • I can think of several bad giveaways by Jones, and and early foul that deserved a yellow. Let’s either play someone more creative or more consistent.


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