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Howard's saves earn highest grade
by Ridge Mahoney, September 10th, 2009 7AM



[TRINIDAD & TOBAGO-USA REPORT CARD] Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players in their 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday in Port of Spain.


7 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 46/0
Came up with big saves, but just as importantly, didn't give up rebounds on tricky shots that either short-hopped him or took funny bounces. Also flew to his right while saving a Trent Noel free kick. Needed to be especially sharp because his defenders didn't dominate in the air.

5 Jonathan Spector (West Ham/ENG) 20/1
Fought off a few attacks that come down his flank, didn't get many opportunities to push forward so he tried to keep his flank secure. Did win a couple of balls in the air in the final minutes, wasn't always in sync with his teammates to defuse dangerous situations.

4 Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes/FRA) 72/11
Misplayed a throw-in and let Cornell Glen blow past him to flick a shot off the crossbar, put his teammates in jeopardy with a few scuffed clearances. Dug in determinedly to win tackles in crowded goalmouth situations but never looked truly comfortable against a bevy of T&T attackers.

5 Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan/ITA) 49/5
Beaten several times in the air on balls he normally wins. Looked tentative on the ball but gained confidence in the second half, yet still didn't reach his normal percentage of crosses.

5 Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA) 21/1
Hounded attackers trying to cross and stayed tight enough to make it difficult on them. Knocked off the ball on occasion when dueling for 50-50 balls or with a dribbling opponent. Did a decent job of cleaning up second balls and partial clearances in goalmouth scrambles, contained Hayden Tinto fairly well.

5 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 59/17
Sluggish to cover his flank in the first half, which provided T&T too much time and space to launch crosses. Hit a few decent crosses early before fading out of the game. Woke up shortly before halftime, and played a smart, solid possession game while also helping defensively before being replaced by Stuart Holden.

6 Michael Bradley (Borussia M'gladbach)/GER) 36/6
Played a vital role in buildup to goal by relaying ball to Dempsey and pushing forward to create space behind him. Clogged up the middle to intercept passes and disrupt dribbles, got forward into the box to increase pressure on T&T back line. Strong central presence forced T&T out wide.

6 Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo) 25/2
Struggled in the first half an hour to find the right spot and match T&T's speed and aggression. Increased his range to connect the attack and defense, struck a great goal from distance after teeing up a shot with his first touch, and used the ball smartly in the final minutes to preserve the lead.

6 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 118/41
Nearly scored late in the first half on a great one-two with Jozy Altidore, did his usual share of defensive work, set up goal for Clark by holding ball on the flank and then cutting it back diagonally. Got free to take a first half shot that dribbled to the keeper. Played a heady final 20 minutes to keep the ball and drain the clock.

4 Charlie Davies (Sochaux/FRA) 15/4
Touch and timing were a bit off, so he relied on workrate and effort to get on the end of attacks and link up with teammates. Lost one-v-one duels when played into good spots, and labored to get back up to speed after looking effective in the early minutes.

5 Jozy Altidore (Hull City/ENG) 19/8
Overpowered in the air by T&T defenders, worked a one-two that provided Donovan with a good chance, pounded a shot from distance on frame that forced a save. Lost ball too many times under moderate pressure but kept battling until Brian Ching replaced him in the 77th minute.

5 Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus/DEN) 26/2
Brought some fresh legs and clean touches to help the U.S. preserve its lead.

4 Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo) 43/11
Played a good ball from the left shortly after entering the match, made space without seeing much of the ball after that.

NR Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo) 8/2
Ran at T&T with the ball, hit a few good passes and pressed opponents after replacing Dempsey in the 82nd minute.


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


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