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Veteran Cherundolo's performance was key
by Ridge Mahoney, October 16th, 2009 7AM

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[USA-COSTA RICA REPORT CARD] Michael Bradley's goal -- on a rebound of Landon Donovan's shot after faking out a Tico defender -- put the USA on the comeback path. Jonathan Bornstein's header in stoppage time capped the evening. But not to be underestimated was right back Steve Cherundolo's performance in the USA's  2-2 tie that earned it first place in Concacaf qualifying. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players and comments on their performance. ...

USA 2 COSTA RICA 2
U.S. PLAYER RATINGS
GRADE PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G

STARTERS:
6 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 48/0
Stayed on his line and let first goal sneak under him from close range, but otherwise played well. Blocked point-blank volley in first half, dived to save a pair of low shots in the second period. Nailed a long goal kick that the Americans nearly turned into a goal.

7 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/GER) 56/2
Perhaps the best U.S. player over the whole 90 minutes. Seldom lost a duel on the flanks, hit several good crosses and balls to the front runners, very quick to cover in transition.

6 Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes/FRA) 74/11
Very secure in his tackling and heading. Challenged in the box on offensive set plays without getting a clear chance. Strong slide tackle broke up Costa Rica attack in second half.

4 Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan/ITA) 51/5
Burned on the first goal when Bryan Ruiz bamboozled him, played well enough until suffering torn patellar tendon late in the match.

6 Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA) 23/2
Culpable on the second goal when Bryan Ruiz raced inside him to trap a return pass and drill a missile into the top corner, and also wasn't around to contest a cross that dropped inside him at the far post. Rescued the point by crashing home a corner kick deep into stoppage time, and worked hard up and down the left flank.

3 Stuart Holden
(Houston) 10/2
Obviously affected by car crash that hospitalized close friend and former U-20 and Olympic roommate Charlie Davies, Holden hit numerous poor crosses and only rarely glided past tacklers on the dribble.

6 Michael Bradley (Borussia M'gladbach)/GER) 38/7
Regained his influence late in the first half after a short hiatus, and led the second-half charge with decisive tackles and smart touches. Got his head to the Robbie Rogers cross that dropped for Landon Donovan to fire on goal, then banged in the rebound. Also switched play smartly in stoppage time; resulting cross led to corner that yielded equalizer.

4 Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus/DEN) 28/2
Started rather promisingly by winning balls and playing simple passes, but vanished after Costa Rica took 2-0 lead.

6 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles) 120/42
Finishing lacked bite except on one occasion, but did a lot of other things. Fired over the bar from close range after 'hatting' a defender, created several good opportunities with sharp passes, set up shot on goal for Bradley rebound with clever touch.

4 Conor Casey
(Colorado) 16/2
Fizzled on a great chance provided by Altidore early in the match. Didn't lack for determination and energy, but lacked the sharpness to turn his possessions into good shots.

6 Jozy Altidore (Hull City/ENG) 21/8
Squandered an excellent chance at the end of the first half when he failed to beat the keeper on a stone-cold one-v-one, and also misfired on one other occasion. Tied up Costa Rican defenders by drifting wide to collect long balls and forcing his way inside to make chances, one of which found Conor Casey all alone.

SUBSTITUTES
6 Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca/MEX) 7/0
Very tidy and confident using the ball, which he called for a few times without reward.

7 Robbie Rogers (Columbus) 7/1
Threatened often off the bench in sharp performance, marred only by a header and right-footed shot he failed to put on frame. Delivered cross that led to first goal, hit superb corner that Bornstein arrowed into the net for a storybook ending.

NR Kenny Cooper (1860 Munich/GER) 10/0
Didn't see much of the ball in his 15 minutes of action, did draw enough attention to make space for others.

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



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