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Casey heads the class as USA clinches
by Ridge Mahoney, October 11th, 2009 7AM

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[HONDURAS-USA REPORT CARD] Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players in their 3-2 win over Honduras that clinched a spot in the 2010 World Cup for the Americans.

HONDURAS 2, USA 3
U.S. PLAYER RATINGS
GRADE PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G

STARTERS:
6 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 47/0
Sharp to cover the through balls and quick to catch and repel the high balls served by Honduras throughout the match. Beaten cleanly by free kick on first goal, came out to challenge early on second goal and delayed shot long enough for teammates to get back but couldn't stop Julio Leon's rocket. Very good save on David Suazo bullet.
6 Jonathan Spector (West Ham/ENG) 21/1
Marooned at times on the flank and unable to prevent crosses, some good tackles in second half to blunt Honduran attacks. Found Stuart Holden up right flank at times to spark U.S. forays.
5 Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes/FRA) 73/11
Recovered in time to block shots by Maynor Figueroa and Wilson Palacios in frantic first half, got his head to a few crosses, hacked ball out of danger in the final minutes. Also thwarted Carlos Costly early in the match. Headed a corner kick just over the bar in first half.
5 Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan/ITA) 50/5
Foul gave away free kick that Honduras exploited on first goal, served free kick (!) that produced equalizer. Jammed up the middle to stop a few scrambles. Vital clearance in the final minutes.
5 Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA) 22/1
Cautioned late in the match for foul on Walter Martinez, tested keeper Noel Valladeres with a fierce shot in the first half. Showed good recovery speed to thwart opponents on a few occasions but starting positions could have been better.
5 Michael Bradley (Borussia M'gladbach)/GER) 37/6
Drilled long shot over the crossbar in first half, broke up plays with hard tackles and prompted a few sequences with intelligent short balls. Took a free kick early in the match and hit it straight into the wall. Went for goal twice late in the match rather than keep the ball to kill time.
5 Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo) 26/2
Dug into tackles and took some hard hits to win balls against desperate opponents. Passing fair but sometimes hurried without no pressure, regained composure late in the match to use possessions wisely.

5 Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo) 9/2
Hit and miss with touches and positioning. Excellent cross set up Davies for prime chance in first half. Showed that his range and determination can be factors in the future.
7 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 119/42
Through ball set up Conor Casey for vital second goal, scored the winner himself with excellent free kick. Not well connected with teammates in first half, and might have done more with the USA in the lead to manage possession, but overall contributed a solid and times spectacular effort.
6 Charlie Davies (Sochaux/FRA) 16/4
Blazed a shot over the crossbar on the rebound of his shot that Valladeres parried in the first half, got his head to the Onyewu free kick that Casey headed into the net to tie the game, 1-1, and played a ball to Donovan that led to the second goal. Pace and guile can be inconsistent but he's growing into his role.
8 Conor Casey (Colorado) 15/2
Got his two invaluable goals by heading a deflected ball over the advancing goalkeeper, and polishing off a through ball from Donovan, yet also assisted in buildup play. He released Holden in the first half with a ball down the right flank that was served for Davies to head on goal. Gives the USA a physical presence but more importantly, proved he can score clutch goals for U.S.
SUBSTITUTES
4 Jozy Altidore
(Hull City/ENG) 20/8
Committed foul late in the game, might have also drew a foul by holding the ball but didn't get a whistle.
nr Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus/DEN) 27/2
Tangled with foes a few times in his few minutes of action.
nr Steve Cherundolo (Hannover/GER) 55/2
Stoppage-time sub.

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



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