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Donovan leads courageous U.S. effort
by Ridge Mahoney, June 29th, 2009 7AM



[BRAZIL-USA REPORT CARD] Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players and comments on their performance in their 3-2 loss to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final. ...


8 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 43/0
Denied Brazil numerous times with excellent saves to keep his team in the game until the final minutes. Pushed away a low Robinho shot bound for the lower corner in the 11th minute, repelled close-range headers by Lucio and Kaka early in the second half (the second of which replays showed had crossed the goal line), and stoned Luis Fabiano on a stone-cold breakaway shortly before Brazil equalized.
5 Jonathan Spector (West Ham/ENG) 18/1
Assisted on first goal with great diagonal cross from midfield and played a few accurate passes. Couldn't secure his corner after the second U.S. goal, and was beaten often by Robinho, Andre Santos, and Daniel Alves when they came up his side. Stepped up to intercept balls early in the match, less successful with players dribbling at him.
6 Oguchi Onyewu  (Standard Liege/BEL) 47/5
As in previous matches, won numerous head balls, but not nearly as many, since Brazil breached the wings rather easily and served the ball better. Beaten by through ball to Luis Fabiano but Howard came up with the save. Repelled a lot of set pieces in the air, powered a header from a corner kick over the crossbar in the final minutes.
6 Jay DeMerit (Watford/ENG) 15/0
Dogged and determined in his tackling yet as was the case for most of the Americans, couldn't keep pace in the second half. Nearly let Luis Fabiano escape late in the match but recovered to block his shot. A half-step slow and unlucky not to block Luis Fabiano's shot on the first goal, also a hair late sliding to block the cross that set up the second.
5 Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes/FRA) 69/11
Battled Maicon often without much help. Blocked one of his shots and deflected a cross bound for a wide-open Luis Fabiano in the first half. Got his head to a U.S. corner kick but couldn't direct the ball on frame. Won a few duels at the back post but also failed to win balls in the second half as Brazil rallied.
7 Ricardo Clark (Houston) 23/1
Great ball to Landon Donovan sent him on his way to set up and score second goal, played ball wide for Spector on the first one. Still too prone to be caught in possession with second and third touches as pressure closed in. Range helped close off the middle but Brazil's combinations left him flustered when it attacked through the channels. Nicked ball away from Kaka with elastic tackle in the 15th minute.
5 Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus/DEN) 23/2
Quickness and anticipation helped blunt Brazil's attacks in the first half, dropped off the pace after halftime prior to being replaced. Spun neatly away from pressure to hit a nice through ball that Landon Donovan couldn't run down. Fought out of a tangle with the ball in the 67th minute as Brazilians swarmed around him.
6 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 56/16
Excellent re-direction on Spector's cross to score first goal, combined with Donovan and Charlie Davies in final minutes to create scoring chance. More active defensively than in past games, which helped at times, but he lost the mark when Robinho surged forth from midfield to hit hard low shot Howard saved. Lucio towered over him to head winning goal though he jumped as high as he could.
8 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles) 115/41
Broke away with Davies to exchange passes and score second goal with clever Preki-esque chop move and crisp shot. Delivered numerous accurate dead-balls, including last-minute corner kick that Onyewu headed over the bar. Scythed past Brazilians more than a few times, tested Julio Cesar once with a shot on frame. Came back to run down attackers and clean up loose balls.
6 Charlie Davies (Hammarby/SWE) 9/1
Started strongly by piercing Brazil's back line and playing efficient passes. Raced away with Donovan and played perfect ball behind the final defender for him to score the second goal. Faded as Brazil stepped up its pressure and couldn't find spaces to collect and hold the ball.
5 Jozy Altidore (Xerez/SPAIN) 16/7
Won a couple of battles early and helped teammates find spaces and get into the attacking flow. Ran down a throw-in and turned inside Andre Santos to win a free kick late in the first half. Headed away a shot by Maicon. Did most of his work off the ball with two opponents ready to pounce when it came his way.
4 Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA) 19/1
Did nothing to stem the tide of Brazilian attacks and had no impact offensively.
4 Sasha Kljestan (Chivas USA) 20/3
Intercepted a ball in midfield and played it to a teammate. Spent most of his time chasing and failed to use the ball when he did get it.
nr Conor Casey (Colorado) 14/0
Came on for the final minutes, hardly touched the ball.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high)


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