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U.S. Player Ratings: Lichaj debut livens up turgid tie
by Ridge Mahoney, October 13th, 2010 1:54AM

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TAGS:  men's national team

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[USA-COLOMBIA REPORT CARD] Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades and critiques the U.S. players' performances in their 0-0 tie with Colombia on Tuesday.

What was listed on the lineup sheet as a 4-3-3 formation seldom materialized, as Brek Shea and Stuart Holden played well behind lone striker Jozy Altidore in (very) wide midfield roles. Jermaine Jones lined up as a central attacking mid but so clogged was that part of the field he didn’t get his passing game going until the team made four subs and changed to a 4-4-2 at halftime.

USA
STARTERS
Rating/Player (Club/Country) GP/G

6 Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/ENG) 17/0
Stymied Giovanni Moreno in the early minutes with superb reflex save of a close-range shot. He wasn’t tested much after that, but set up his defensive walls fairly well and handled the ball cleanly.

4 Jonathan Spector (West Ham/ENG) 26/0
Won a few duels but was also knocked off the ball twice within a few seconds and lost possession near the corner flag. Lagged with the ball at times and had to clear hastily under pressure.

5 Oguchi Onyewu. (AC Milan/ITALY) 58/6
Not as assured as his central partner Clarence Goodson, but played a reliable and competent game. Got his head to a free kick and couldn’t direct the ball on frame.

7 Clarence Goodson (IK Start/NOR) 15/2
A very solid showing while playing the entire match. Showed excellent judgment of when to step high to cut off passes and timed his tackles expertly. Charged back to block a point-blank shot in the early minutes. Came up for a corner kick and outjumped an opponent to get his head to a ball that was cleared.

6 Heath Pearce (FC Dallas) 33/0
Cut off the dribbles that came down his flank and helped out in the middle when needed. Overlapped a few times and triggered sequences that looked promising but eventually petered out not because of him.

5 Stuart Holden (Bolton/ENG) 17/2
Rather quiet offensively, though he worked hard as always and probed for openings. Struck a swerving free kick from the left flank that Onyewu headed wide of the post.

5 Michael Bradley (Borussia M'Gladbach/GER) 49/8
Paired with Edu as the dual holding midfielders behind what was supposed to be three attackers, Bradley helped throttle the Colombians. In the second half nearly set up a great scoring chance with a clever, re-directed through ball he hit first-time.

4 Maurice Edu (Rangers/SCO) 18/1

Covered ground while plugging up holes, let a ball from Bradley run past him and Colombia nearly turned the turnover into a goal. Looked a step slower than he did against Poland, though that might have been due to Colombia’s perky Giovanni Moreno.

3 Brek Shea (FC Dallas) 1/0
Hit a foolish ball back into his own half that Colombia turned into an attack early in the match. Seldom provided any offensive impetus, got back a few times to help defensively. Touches were OK but neglected opportunities to run the ball at defenders or get in behind them.

6 Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/GER) 1/0
Played centrally and tried to take the attacking initiative, leaving Edu and Bradley to anchor the middle. Didn’t find much joy in that spot, but floated often enough when the formation changed to 4-4-2 to hit a few testing middle-distance balls, including one that nearly freed Altidore for a chance. His range, touch, and tenacity in the tackle are impressive.

4 Jozy Altidore (Villarreal/SPAIN) 32/10
Very much alone up front in the first half, as the five midfielders labored to link up with him. Nearly ran down a good ball from Jones and headed Lichaj’s cross right to the goalkeeper during an improved second half, during which he also bulled through two fouls that weren’t called. Yet his angry shove of an opponent drew a caution.

SUBS
Rating/Player (Club/Country) GP/G

6 Eric Lichaj
Nice stuff with the ball including a cross from near the touchline for Altidore. Seldom pressed by Colombian attackers but definitely showed speed and poise.

5 Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland/DEN) 9/0

Misplayed a situation shortly after coming on at halftime, played steadily after that and bailed out his teammates with a vital intervention.

6 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 67/19

Classy and inventive on the ball, he caused Colombia problems. Got whacked a few times, and complained to the ref about it.

4 Eddie Johnson (Fulham/ENG) 42/12
Showed more of a presence than in his pre-World Cup appearances but to call him dangerous would be a stretch. Held the ball near the touchline to win a free kick yet showed no trickery or desire to carve out looks at goal.

5 Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus/DEN) 37/2
Served two effective corner kicks from the left wing, otherwise provided little other than a safe outlet during buildup play.


(Ratings: 1=terrible; 5=average; 10=brilliant.)
------------------------------------------------------------
How do you feel the U.S. players did against Colombia? Agree with our ratings? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below.



0 comments
  1. Stuart d. Warner
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 8:40 a.m.
    Lichaj was good, but he did make two ill advised passes--one across the field but barely on a diagonal, and one up the line from near the touch line--both of which could have been big trouble against a better team. Edu is tough on defense when playing the middle, but his touch is ghastly and he has no idea where to play the ball. Also, has Altidore improved at all in the last two years? I think not. His touch is also dreadful.

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 10:11 a.m.
    Hate to harp on Bradley again, but substituting five players but again not Bradley. Feilhaber should have replaced Bradley and that would have given a double side of attack with Feilhaber(left side) and Holden(right side). The answer was to attack as we had maybe 3 shot at goal. But I felt that Bradley should have been subbed already and not Edu for Dempsey. But again major nepotism takes precedent to sacrifice US performance.

  1. John Lenart
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 10:18 a.m.
    Being at the game gave me a perspective I don't see when watching this team on tv (eg the poland game). IMO, Altidore is not a quality striker when playing for this team. He's all alone up top, yes, but he does not work. An example of what my benchmark is would be Sebastian LeToux, Phila. Union. It's not the quality of play but the work rate that I'm particularly concerned with. If he's all alone then he should work to create some opportunities. No hustle, no creativity, just punching the clock. Seeing the Colombian strikers do their work tirelessly really made Jozy's lack of work stand out all the more. It was like he didn't want to be there. To be fair, maybe if Holden, SHea and Jones had committed to the 343 this would be different but I don't think Jozy is the striker for the US. I'd rather see him paired up with 1-2 others who can work harder or replace him with someone (LeToux?) in these type of friendlies to see what a harder working striker would do for this team.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 10:46 a.m.
    No one rated better than a 5...and Colombia is a step down on the ladder.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 11:20 a.m.
    The fans and players appear uninspired by USSF/MLS's "Team Bradley" approach as shown by the effort for this match, we all know what the USMNT could be capable of if it was given creative and experienced leadership. Sadly though, the poor judgement of Glulati/Flynn/Kraft/AEG continues on display at every match, no one wants to see the Bradleys any longer, it is time for them to go.

  1. Nick Prodanovich
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 11:26 a.m.
    Although the games overall were forgettable, particularly the game last night against Columbia, the experimentation did reveal a few things. On the positive side: 1. Stuart Holden has grown rapidly in the Premiership and will be a major player for the US going forward. 2. Jermaine Jones is the real deal and will push to start every game. 3. Eric Lichaj has major promise as an outside fullback. The US may have found the heir to Steve Cherlondolo. On the less than positive: 1. Brek Shea is not ready for the senior National Team. 2. Jozy Altidore is not progressing without playing time. 3. Gooch is regressing without playing time for his club team. Both the forward line and the back four are problems. The back line should improve with young players like Gonzalez and Ream. However, the forward line is a gaping problem for the US.

  1. Daniel Lann
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 11:29 a.m.
    When watching Jozy's lack of hustle, and his constant complaining to the refs, I have a little ditty that keeps running through my brain: "Jozy Altidore; out the door." Replace him with anyone with a better work rate.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 11:44 a.m.
    Hey, Ragin' Ridge, you shoulda watched the California debate for the race of governor! Much more exciting, and after reading your evaluation and critique of the players, I'll save my comments and defer to the wise folks who've submitted their insightful thoughts. And to borrow from the "great communicator" of past years, all I can say is: "Now, there you go again!..." meaning that you most certainly contnue to be the Banality Bradleys "biggest apologist!"

  1. Ryan Nelson
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 1:20 p.m.
    @David Huff Anyone who doesn't want to see Mike Bradley again for the USMNT doesn't want to see us do well. He's one of our best players, and let's not forget his age. Whether we want to see the elder Bradley or not is up for debate, but I'm fine with having him around. We get results with him, despite the fact that he doesn't seem interested in appeasing the comment sections of America.

  1. Chris Morris
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 2 p.m.
    Speaking for the fans I know who have a problem with Michael Bradley, the issue is not whether he is good enough to play for the U.S. Of course he is. But is he so good that he should play 90 minutes of every game, even in minor friendlies such as these, regardless of the quality of his performance or the tactical situation? Beyond that, is he so good that the midfield should always be constructed to suit (and protect) him? Our set-up of two d-mids side by side is never subject to revision (unless we have three!), and potential central mids who might threaten this approach either must play wide (Holden, Benny) or don’t play at all (Torres, Sacha). For example, Holden operates for his club as a ball-playing center mid in a 4-4-2, but does not get a chance in this role for us.

  1. Kevin Leahy
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 4:32 p.m.
    How Dempsey rates a six is beyond funny! I will bet he has more turnovers per touches than anyone. Jozy is pretty close. Can we find one player up top that can hold possesion? Do we have anyone besides Dempsey that has a move in their game? I have seen youth teams that can string together more passes. How many long balls were to Columbia players?

  1. David Huff
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 6:52 p.m.
    @Chris, thats fair commentary on Michael Bradley, I feel similarly. He has a role to play although not necessarily as a starter. @ Ryan, in dittoing Chris' comments I would also add the bone-headed giveaway passes that Michael Bradley makes which cost the team, such as in WC 2010, indicates that he surely is not one of the most technically gifted players in the USMNT player pool. Does he have a role? Sure, but not necessarily as a starter or certainly not the playing time with which he has been gifted at the expense of other deserving players.

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: October 13, 2010 at 7:40 p.m.
    Ryan you are either an idiot or you are related to Bradley. Stay with analyzing, watching and playing tennis or curling as you have absolutely no understanding of the beautiful game. As Bruce Arena says "Shut up". Bradley is despicable and sellfish person who should be ashamed of himself for continuing to coach and lead our National Team to "Titanic". He is nepotist swine. And if you respect that I have nothing to say to you but get a life major moron! Do you want to see this country's soccer in demise you "un American and un-Patriot"bigot. I am sorry that I have be to this strong but there are no other words for a obtuse person like you.

  1. Leonardo Perez
    commented on: October 14, 2010 at 1:09 a.m.
    I just read your USMNT ratings, and I was struck by your comment on Edu: "...let a ball from Bradley run past him"---did you look at the same game that I saw? Bradley passed the ball to EDU in BACK OF HIM!! How was EDu supposed to control the ball if Bradley is passing it to him in back of him? And, why does Banal Bob keep Bradely on the field and not try Edu with Jones? Is Bob Bradley afraid to take off his own son of the field? Has he ever taken off is son out of any game? This was the worst game I've ever seen our USMNT play. It's going to be a long 4 years.

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: October 14, 2010 at 12:02 p.m.
    The emergence of Jermaine Jones and Stu Holden are going to force BB to take a hard look at Mikey. He'll probably use the excuse that Mike is younger and thus has more of a future with US Soccer than JJ. Mike is a useful player if we are ahead in the second half and want to control the midfield space more than with players like Feilhaber and Torres (if he ever gets to play again)... As for Lichaj, he looked very comfortable on the ball. His debut probably marked the end of Jonathan Spector's chances of starting for the team again.

  1. jack lighthiser
    commented on: October 14, 2010 at 12:40 p.m.
    I have an idea to solve the M Bradley problem and better the team. They keep looking for an outside fullback. Mike Bradley. Then he can still play the full game for dad and allow the team to play an actual midfielder who can distribute. And, hopefully to someone other than Altidore, who may be the laziest and poorest striker in recent years.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: October 14, 2010 at 2:41 p.m.
    @ Antonio, so tell us what you really think about "Team Bradley" ok? :)

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: October 14, 2010 at 4:05 p.m.
    David' just please read some of my comments all over at SA, I sure make a lot of them as I am furious of Bradleys(plural) set up.

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: October 14, 2010 at 4:08 p.m.
    Actually David I have been reading some of your comments and we seem to be on the same page most of the time if not all the time.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: October 14, 2010 at 5:11 p.m.
    @ Antonio, perhaps great minds think alike, at least on this particularly annoying and worrisome subject concerning the "Team Bradley" family dynasty project being foisted upon us by Flynn/Gulati amd their cynical handlers at USSF/MLS. We also certainly seem to have stalwart company with the likes of Ric, James and many other knowlegable contributors to these posts. :)


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