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World-class efforts from Donovan & Onyewu
by Ridge Mahoney, June 25th, 2009 7AM
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[USA-SPAIN REPORT CARD] As befits a stunning upset win over the European champion and top-ranked team in the world, high marks abounded for the Americans who shocked Spain, 2-0, on Wednesday. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players and comments on their performance ...

USA-Spain [2-0]

8 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 42/0
Came up with a few good saves and two excellent ones to frustrate a bevy of talented attackers. Robbed Fernando Torres at the base of the post with a kick save that was NHL-esque, stabbed out his left glove to palm away a stinging David Villa shot. Controlled the penalty area by punching confidently and smothering at the feet of attackers. Organized his defenders swiftly and correctly, kicked and threw accurately, and reminded a few critics why he's clearly No. 1.
6 Jonathan Spector (West Ham/ENG) 17/1
Solid enough defensively, rarely beaten to the line and pressured most of the crosses. Still not efficient enough on the ball, did play a couple of good balls up the flank. Botched throw-in nearly proved disastrous when Spain turned it into a shot. Deserves praise for going 90 minutes again in fourth straight tough game after moderate playing time for club team in the past nine months.
9 Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege/BEL) 46/5
An incredible performance of timing, strength, and confidence. Impossible to beat in the air, and impeccable on his tackles. Used his rare possessions to good effect, hit a first-time diagonal ball wide left that sparked an attack. His refusal to be beaten on the dribble and aerial dominance prompted Spain to shoot from distance more often than not, and Torres to float wide right.
8 Jay DeMerit (Watford/ENG) 14/0
As Gooch was in the air, so DeMerit was on the floor. Quick, decisive and solid in his tackles, cut out numerous square balls and diagonal passes, did his fair share on high balls. This was a breakout game in his breakout tournament and like many teammates, as the stakes have been raised, so has his game.
6 Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes/FRA) 68/11
Showed the rust of recent inactivity, and wasted some possessions with balls up the line that ran or flew out of play. While isolated one-v-one without cover, often chose to stay close and allow the cross rather than dive in and possibly be beaten. Burned by Torres' dribble but Howard saved shot from a sharp angle. Got a good chance on set play and headed wide. Plays left back for Rennes, may be the best choice there next year.
6 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 55/15
Scored goal by getting to the far post and capitalizing on defensive miscue. Knocked over effortlessly by Carlos Puyol on promising high ball, yet more active and inventive than in past games. As a midfielder, reluctant to track back, and was often tucked in too tight and too far upfield, leaving flank wide open. As a forward, opportunistic once again.
7 Ricardo Clark (Houston) 22/1
Only an occasional hasty pass marred a remarkable performance. He swept up balls, intercepted passes, blocked shots, and dug into tackles all over the U.S. half of the field. Incredible range filled gaps in the back line as well as throughout midfield. He took a couple of cracks at goal, and triggered an attack with crisp slide tackle and outlet pass to Landon Donovan. Must cut down on giveaways, but otherwise, he kicked booty showing athletic gifts not many Americans have.
7 Michael Bradley (Borussia M'gladbach/GER) 33/6
Another strong game of smart decisions, solid tackles, and accurate passes. Unlucky to earn red card while winning a tackle and barely touching the opponent with studs exposed only onto the ball. At times he and Clark played well ahead of the back line, yet those positions enabled them to funnel Spain's passes and dribbles into areas that DeMerit and Onyewu usually clogged up.
9 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles) 114/40
Buzzed and unsettled the Spaniards throughout the match, but held the ball intelligently when not scything upfield on the dribble. Incredible defensive work on the flanks deprived Spain of numerous crossing opportunities. Got assist when pass bounced off two opponents to Dempsey, yet played the right ball for the situation. Ran relentlessly until the last second. Looked every inch a captain though he didn't wear the armband.
7 Jozy Altidore (Xerez/SPAIN) 15/7
Scored excellent goal by throwing off - literally - Spanish defender Joan Capdevila and drilling right-footed shot that glanced off the goalie's glove and in off the post. Won his share of physical duels, a bit late attacking balls in the air and still needs to be sharper with his touches, but left at least a few defenders hoping he'll again be loaned out, as in out of the country.
6 Charlie Davies (Hammarby/SWE) 8/1
Set the tone in the first phase of the match by breaching the Spanish back line several times to create or get shots, and open up space with his constant running. Set scoring sequence on first goal in motion with crisp pass to Dempsey. Faded a bit in second half, and for good reason. Showed he can be useful in a World Cup.
6 Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus/DEN) 22/2
Five minutes after coming into the match, his clever pass freed Donovan on the right side to set up the clinching goal. Got back in the final minutes to hack partial clearances and loose balls out of danger. Showed a bit of his Brazilian heritage, so how about Sunday?
NR Conor Casey (Colorado) 13/0
Spent his six minutes plus stoppage time pressuring defenders and taking balls into the corner to kill time.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high)


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