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U.S. player ratings
by Ridge Mahoney, March 27th, 2011 12:02AM

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TAGS:  argentina, men's national team

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[USA-ARGENTINA REPORT CARD] Goalkeeper Tim Howard and subs Juan Agudelo and Timothy Chandler stood out for the USA its 1-1 tie with Argentina during which Coach Bob Bradley used just two substitutions at halftime, when he changed from a 4-5-1 formation to a 4-4-2. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players' performances.

U.S. Starters
Rating Player (Club/Country) Caps/Goals
8 Tim Howard (Everton/England) 58/0
Sprawling save on Lionel Messi and right-hand stab block of blast from Ezekiel Lavezzi highlighted a sharp, spirited performance. Leg save stymied Angel Di Maria on doorstep of his goal but he could do nothing on Esteban Cambiasso’s followup shot into the top corner. He didn’t have quite as much to do as in the 0-0 tie with Argentina three years ago yet he again commanded his position.

3 Jonathan Spector (West Ham United/England) 28/0
A tough night all around; bracketed by multiple attackers, seldom able to pass with any time on the ball, completely scalded by Messi on give-and-go with Lavezzi but the shot went wide. Burned by Messi again near the goal line on Argentina’s goal. Wasn’t helped by static teammates when in possession. Replaced by Tim Chandler at halftime.

5 Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps) 24/0
Several strong tackles and some dogged tracking across the penalty area were betrayed by a scuffed clearance that led to Argentina’s goal and a giveaway in the final minutes. Came up to the pace of the match in the second half and brought stability to what had been a very leaky back line but still looked a half-step slow.

3 Oguchi Onyewu (FC Twente/Netherlands) 59/6
Seldom did the U.S. defenders look secure for more than a few minutes at a time with Argentina in possession, but Onyewu’s sluggish reactions and labored movement were glaring weak points. He also gave away balls in bad spots, including a stumble in the early minutes that handed the ball to Di Maria at the edge of the box.

4 Carlos Bocanegra (St. Etienne/France) 86/12
Scrambled to cover his corner at times and allowed Lavezzi a clean run behind him to drill a shot Howard saved, later took out Lavezzi at midfield to earn a caution. Ball-watched to open up huge space for Di Maria, whose shot missed the far post. Got it together defensively in the second half and on a U.S. free kick powered a header on target, the rebound of which produced the goal.

5 Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers/Scotland) 20/1
Floundered offensively while deployed as the attacking mid in a five-man midfield, and often chased the ball blindly trying to apply pressure. Still managed to thwart a few Argentine opportunities, and in the second half came from deep to steer a shot just past the post. Adjusted well when the U.S. changed formations and started playing quicker.

5 Michael Bradley (Aston Villa/England) 51/8
Marooned in the middle often by teammates pulled out of position by Argentina’s movement and passing. Smoked by Messi through the middle in the 40th minute. Played decent balls to attackers and moved up in support to no avail in first half. Tracked back to his own goal line to bail out Onyewu on Di Maria chance. Stretched and slid to block several shots.

6 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy 129/45
Delivered a great free kick to produce the U.S. goal after injecting some guile into his game in the second half. Scythed through Argentina late in the first half to set up a chance for Dempsey. Struggled to connect with midfielders in first half. Muscled off the ball by Messi in the U.S. defensive third, which simply can’t happen.

5 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/England) 69/19
Played both flanks as he and Donovan switched sides in the first half without great effect. Wasn’t incisive enough to use his limited opportunities to cross effectively and except for one shot that was blocked, didn’t hit the ball with power. Seldom found a lot of space and didn’t have a much energy in the second half as momentum swung back and forth.

4 Jermaine Jones (Schalke/Germany) 3/0
Porous defensively in the first half with the U.S. chasing shadows and missing tackles. Often bewildered by Argentina’s array of passing options and one-touch sequences. Scrapped for a ball at midfield that Donovan turned into a scoring chance. Replaced at halftime by Agudelo as Americans switched to 4-4-2.

6 Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor/Turkey) 33/10
Won a few free kicks, including the one that produced the equalizer, and late in the game drifted wide to serve an excellent cross. A back heel nearly put through Agudelo through on another occasion, a header set up Edu for a shot. As usual, looked better with a frontline partner as no one gave him much support in the first 45 minutes.

U.S. Substitutes
7 Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls) 3/2
The kid (18) who can’t stop scoring did it again. He came on halftime to liven up the U.S. attack with sharp, poised runs and clean, confident touches. He scored on the rebound of a saved shot from less than a yard out with a calmly tapped volley after he’d angled a header narrowly wide.

7 Tim Chandler (FC Nuremberg/GER) 1/0
Jumped right into the action as halftime sub and took a caution four minutes into his first cap. He won a few jarring tackles, prompted attacks on the right flank, and served two good balls from the flank that produced shots.



0 comments
  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.
    Agudelo looks like he can play, is productive on and off the ball, even got a good crunching tackle. Would love to see him in every match. The entire teams ratings went up after Bradley adjusted the team at half. The USA are horrible when playing a lone striker. HORRIBLE! Argentina ceased to look like Brazil when we made them play a little defense. Why does Bradley insist on Bunker Ball?

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 10:54 a.m.
    I think we should be getting more from Donovan and Dempsey. I realize they were put in wide positons by BB, but they never found the game. The ball comming out of the back should be going through one or the other 90% of the time. Thats'were the breakdown was. When our lumbering defenders did win a ball, they had no time to find options in the mid field and had no choice but to "whack" it forward. Our most experienced and talented players need to have more of the ball.

  1. E Muschick
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 10:57 a.m.
    Our play lacked confidence in the first half...result: no runs off the ball...meaning: close to zero possession! Ridge: you forgot to mention the excellent decisions Chandler made in choosing his forward runs! Well done! He can be a force in 2014...

  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 12:02 p.m.
    I attended the game at the Meadowlands. I thought Chandler and Donovan communicated really well in the second half. Altidore is not Drogba. Once Bradley figures this out, he'll give up this insane idea of him being a lone striker. I felt badly for Dempsey because he did not get to touch the ball very often because he was playing so wide. Altough "Gouch" looked like he did not belong on the field in the first half, he did a good job on Messi,a couple of times, in the second half when Messi broke through the the mid-field defenses. I still don't think he'll make the 2014 WC squad. The US's weakness is in central midfield. We just don't have that playmaker-scorer in central midfield that can connect with Dempsey, Donovan, Altidore, et al to make the US more productive offensively. Someone who was sitting behind me kept complaining why Howard kept kicking the ball long instead of passing to his backline when the US got possesion. It was pretty obvious that his backline struggled with possesion when Agentina brought pressure.

  1. Karl Ortmertl
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.
    Too bad we don't have a better coach. We've got two creative guys our there in Donovan and Dempsey, but all the play goes thru the clunky M.Bradley and Jones in the middle. B.Bradley got the result somehow so this defensive minded lunacy in the midfield will surely continue, but it's painful to watch. Personally, I'd like to see Michael Bradley on the back line. He's missed his calling as a mid fielder. Probably can blame his father's ambitiion for that. M. Bradley on the back line would do a couple of things - improve the defense (IMHO) and get him out of the midfield. I'd love to see the US team with Donovan and Dempsey being the focus. Also, where's Jose Torres? He can play. Agudelo and Chandler are a breath of fresh air. With Ream and Bradley in the back line with Chandler, you might actually start seeing the US be able to control the ball a little starting in the back. One more thing, Altidore is big and fast, but I don't see him developing much skill. He woke up a little when Agudelo came in, but, by not progressing, he's regressing.

  1. James Madison
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 1:18 p.m.
    You overrated Altidore, who took off by himself too frequently in the first half instead of holding and waiting for help, and you underrated Dempsey, but overall a creditable experiment for the US. Bradley learned that Agudelo can play---the day will come when he and Davies will make a fierce attacking duo--and that Jones is out of his depth at this level.

  1. Alex Colacion
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 2:04 p.m.
    My take since we played in the Confederations Cup has been that Bradley should put more technically gifted players on the field. Every time he does this, it relieves pressure for other impact players like Donovan. He loads the back and middle with players who can't see the field well, who can't hold the ball, and who are too negative (his son) in the passes they make. Count Bradley's backward passes to defenders versus how many times he passes forward to midfielders and attackers. You'll notice it on quality opponents...he works hard, but hinders the team in possession. Coach Bradley doesn't see that the U.S. now has the talent to compete head-on with top teams and he builds a squad that is intended to defend for 90 minutes. That's not a longterm winning strategy. We've been able to do that for 20 years now. We have creative and technically sound players like Chandler now...we should put a more positive squad, and get a coach with more vision.

  1. Alex Colacion
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 2:12 p.m.
    Karl O. has the right idea. Bradley Jr. should move to the back line. There are loads of good U.S. midfielders and attackers who can't function, let alone flourish, with one-dimensional players like J.Spector around them. Donovan is the best U.S. player ever, but he can't do anything when he is playing 5 v 11 because half the squad Bradley fields can't control the ball under pressure. Aguadelo is a great idea, but I think we need a player who is technically gifted and who understands the tactical game. Aguadelo has a knack for goals, and should be inserted as a sub., but we need players who are intelligent enough to see the game that Donovan sees. Donovan must be pulling his hair out. Why don't we hire Klinsman already. Bradley is a good assistant, but he doesn't have the pedigree to be running this team at this stage in our history. We're ready. We have what it takes to get to the quarterfinals in international tournaments now...not in 10 more years.

  1. Andrew Post
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 5:14 p.m.
    Walt, The problem wasn't with Donovan or Dempsey. The problem was that we had no attacking midfielder. Instead a combonation of Bradley, Edu and Jones. It helps to have someone to pass to in the middle that can take on a defender or make a good run or put a ball in the a tight space. Donovan and Clint played well despite being stranded on the wings. Also, play opened up when we shifted to a 4-4-2 which allowed for 2 fWD's to make runs and open up space for Demps and Donovan to make passes. I realize we lost holden and an attacking mid. But no Fielhaber, no Torres? Bradley makes poor decision after poor decision.

  1. Nathan Geason
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 6:21 p.m.
    It is time to start grading the coaching. Bradley gets at best a D! Has the US ever played good in anything but a 4-4-2. I know when the game starts and he has thrown out a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3, that the US is in trouble.

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 8:13 p.m.
    Kudos to you gentlemen; Walt, Paul, Karl, Alex and Andrew. I am so glad that you are not blinded by a quasi favorable result vs. Argentina. First of all Bradley is an idiot sending the formation of the first half, he has absolutely no clue of the game. How can he send (poor) Altidore lone stiker facing a powerhouse Argentine defense? It was totally inane and futile; w/o purpose nor results. This set up only freed up the whole Argentine defense to outnumber and overpower our midfield. The lone striker alone couldn't hold the ball and was quickly overtaken. This doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. However with the 2 strikers up front the Argetine defense got busy thus relieved the pressure on our midfield. It's a numbers game. It wasn't that Bradley made a genious move because the struggling was still there to an extent. Had he used Donovan /Dempsey in attacking midfield position distributing to the two forwards the result might have been even better as the momentum was on our side. BTW, I have been commenting over and over that Donovan's true position is the attacking midfield, right behind the forwards and he becomes the third forward with the attack. But where would that leave Junior? Who is too busy passing backwords instead of forward. Also, Junior at Cambiasso's goal he bought a ticket to watch the game, as he just stopped as he was bypassed and stood watching the events. I don't know if he has applauded to goal? You want him in defense? Maybe? I would send him to the "salt mines" with his father. I think Junior is a mediocre sub at best but not a starter. He can't even start in bottom of the table European Teams (a bench warmer) and you want marquee him againt major National Teams of the world? Need I say more? Where is Paul Gardner with his comments?

  1. Mj Lee
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 4:26 p.m.
    Bradley Bradley Bradley. Why does he keep giving chances to players whose windows of opportunity have closed? He needs to build for 2014, not just the Confederations Cup. Gooch has gotten too slow both mentally and physically. WHile I love Carlos B, he's not the 2014 future. There is a large crop of 20-somethings who should be getting playing time now, ESPECIALLY defenders. Also, let's toss Bradley. A coach who tries to play world class soccer with one forward up top needs to have his soccerhead examined.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 7:22 p.m.
    BB constantly puts together a 'let's not lose' game plan and stifles the likes of Dempsey and Donovan. Leaving Altidore as the lone striker is a disservice to him and the supporting cast. Time to throw out the 4-3-2-1 system into the garbage, it doesn't work. Time to sit Michael down to see if there is a better combination that clicks; so far it hasn't been clicking. And let's face it, the technical skill of the Argentines was two levels superior of the USMNT, something has got to change and improved. Too many unforced turnovers and lack of execution remains a constant on this team.


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