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Donovan heads the class in U.S. win
by Ridge Mahoney, September 7th, 2009 7AM
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[USA-EL SALVADOR REPORT CARD] Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players in their 2-1 win over El Salvador in World Cup qualifying on Saturday in Sandy, Utah.


5 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 45/0
Wrong-footed himself on very save-able El Salvador goal. Otherwise covered his area well except for the occasional loose ball he might have claimed, routine yet critical save in final seconds preserved the win.

6 Jonathan Spector (West Ham/ENG) 19/1
Burned once by Cristian Castillo out on the flank and wasn't tight enough on him when El Salvador scored. Used the ball well going forward, overlapped a few times, directed very accurate balls up top to Davies that started attacking sequences.

5 Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew) 10/1
Won a lot of balls with good work in the air, hit a few good passes out of the back, resisted the urge to dive in and forced opponents into another pass or low-percentage shot. Occasionally surprised by quickness of play but adjusted well.

6 Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes/FRA) 71/11
Cleared a lot of dipping crosses and balls along the ground as well as his usual allotment of stuff in the air. Strong near-post run on a corner kick forced defensive header and another corner, mixed it up well in the box on offensive set plays but didn't get a clean chance at goal.

4 Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA) 20/1
Atrocious error gave El Salvador the chance to score its goal, hit some good balls up the line but lost his positions by chasing blindly. Quickness an asset yet too often reacted rather than anticipated, which the Salvadorans recognized and exploited. Not strong enough to win tackles and some second balls.

5 Michael Bradley (Borussia M'gladbach)/GER) 35/6
Stretches of excellent play occasionally marred with errors like fancy first-touch giveaways, one in each half. One of three players who failed to close down Zelaya before his cross created Salvadoran goal. Got forward early in the match to drill a low shot wide, rushed into good spots a couple of other times but didn't get the return pass.

6 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 58/17
Squandered good chances, yet worked harder and smarter than usual before tiring late in the game. Scored equalizer with a strong header, twice raced through midfield - once to shoot weakly, the other time to play in Altidore - yet twice coughed up ball in bad spots. Also played ball to Altidore while he was in an offside position when a shot was available.

5 Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus/DEN) 25/2
Won balls with aggressive tackles, kept his passing simple and accurate for the most part. Not always in sync with Bradley and other teammates to close off passing lanes and when to put pressure on the ball. Ignored opportunities to turn with ball and push into space but seldom lost the ball in bad situations, either.

8 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 117/41
Energy, commitment, stamina, and flair marked a strong game. Set up both goals with precise crosses, came back into own half to win balls and break up passes, drove himself and his team until the final whistle.

6 Charlie Davies (Sochaux/FRA) 15/4
Workrate, speed, and smart touches unhinged El Salvador's defense a few times. Got free on the left to get in shots or hit serves, ranged to the right to collect balls out of the back and put pressure on defenders. Took a few hard hits with no foul called, whistled for foul when he seemed to have dispossessed Eliseo Quintanilla legally.

7 Jozy Altidore (Hull City/ENG) 18/8
Scored the winner with a powerful header, scored a strangely disallowed goal that would have clinched the match, strayed offside when making space that Dempsey should have used himself. Controlled an early ball under pressure to set up chance for Davies, and combined with him numerous times in different parts of the field.

6 Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo) 7/2
Two great crosses from the right flank nearly produced a clinching goal, worked hard defensively, knocked a loose ball out of danger in the final seconds.

3 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 10/1
Giveaways and poor touches disappointed a home crowd that had enthusiastically saluted his entrance.

NR Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca/MEX) 6/0
Nailed a bullet header on goal that was saved, closed down the flank to shut down an opposing attack.



(1=bad; 5=average; 10=brilliant.)

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