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Beckerman, Holden, Marshall earn top marks
by Ridge Mahoney, July 20th, 2009 7AM
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[USA-PANAMA REPORT CARD] Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players and comments on their performance in their 2-1 quarterfinal win over Panama in the Gold Cup ...


5 Troy Perkins (IK Start/NOR) 4/0
Not credited with an official save, yet though the U.S. dominated for long stretches, Panama played more than a few decent crosses and through balls that required quick, decisive reactions that he handled every time.
6 Jay Heaps (New England) 2/0
Set aside his nightmarish debut to tackle hard, cover his flank, contribute going forward, and battle all the way to the end of a long 120 minutes. Ran down and jumped over his opponents to win numerous balls, and cleaned up a half-dozen attacks just in overtime with strong, sure decisions.
5 Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City) 26/1
Cracked hard in the face at the end of a good first half, during which he thwarted Jose Luis Carces with a superb tackle in the penalty area after picking up a caution in the 12th minute. Left match with probable concussion.
7 Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew) 7/1
Strong from start to finish and played through a minor hamstring tweak that briefly sent him to the sidelines. Dominated on so many occasions Panama tried to avoid his area if possible but working in conjunction with Conrad or Clarence Goodson still made a lot of plays.
6 Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock/GER) 26/0
Complemented solid defensive work with perhaps his best offensive display. Engaged in combinations, supported Rogers with early balls - though seldom overlapped - and whacked two shots on goal, one of which forced an excellent save. Hustled to keep a ball in play on the touchline and served a cross to Kenny Cooper.
5 Logan Pause (Chicago Fire) 3/0
Quiet and diligent but not invisible. Anchored midfield as U.S. stepped up the pace after halftime, and helped throttle Panama's mostly futile efforts to regain momentum once the U.S. equalized while leaving the playmaking to Beckerman and Stuart Holden.
7 Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo) 3/2
Punched his work card with another impressive display of guile, touch, range and commitment. Floated a cross in the eighth minute that Brian Ching headed off the post, fired a low shot just wide after an excellent build-up, and delivered another cross that yielded a foul on Kenny Cooper and the winning PK.
7 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 7/1
Superb equalizer emulated a couple of his goals for Real Salt Lake in MLS, as did his relentless workrate, solid tackles, and deft passes. Kept up his energy until late in overtime, when his legs dragged a bit, but by then the job was done. Swore like a sailor during his celebration and he deserved every word.
5 Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew) 4/1
Labored with his dribbles and cutting runs, hit a couple of decent crosses yet often ran into roadblocks, Panama right back Luis Moreno by name. Yet he volleyed a hard shot on frame and his ball to Davy Arnaud led to the first U.S. goal. Also did some defensive work while obviously frustrated with his offensive struggles.
6 Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards) 5/1
Quick, creative and tidy while playing in partnership up top with Brian Ching. Unlocked the Panama defense a few times and usually took a crude foul for his efforts. Laid back Rogers' cross to set up Beckerman's searing strike. (Too bad he didn't try one of those himself; he's certainly banged them in for Kansas City.)
6 Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo) 39/10
Unlucky to clang a header off the post in the eighth minute from a Holden free kick and absorbed the usual number of callous fouls from Concacaf opponents incapable of doing anything else to stop him. Contributed to several good combinations and held possession strongly. Played a ball to Cooper in overtime that could have produced a third U.S. goal.

5 Clarence Goodson (IK Start/NOR) 4/0
Came in cold to replace Conrad and couldn't prevent Felipe Baloy's header that produced Panama's goal, but he soon got into the game and smothered the Panamanian attackers who came his way.
5 Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas) 7/3
Blew a few good chances to win the game before taking a brutal foul while collecting a cross and stepping up to the spot himself to bury the penalty kick off the inside of the post.
NR Brad Evans (Seattle) 3/0
Replaced Rogers in the final 10 minutes to shore up the midfield and did it well.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high)


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