[USA-CANADA REPORT CARD] The USA started off its Group C schedule in the Gold Cup by outclassing Canada, 2-0, Tuesday in Detroit with goals in each half from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. They were two of many players to earn good grades. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the performances of the U.S. players ...
Rating/Player (Club) GP/G
7 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG, 60/0).
Two great saves on Ali Gerba and a few courageous blocks on point-blank scrambles preserved a shutout victory. He also got into his players early and often to keep their heads in the game, and cleaned up the occasional mess quickly.
6 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/GER, 67/2)
Scrambled to contain the speedy Josh Simpson early and late. Used the ball smartly and victimized Canada often by playing a low-risk pass rather than hitting a deep cross. Lay on the ground in disappointment after over-hitting a cross on a ball rolled perfected to him by Landon Donovan. Stumbled when beaten by Will Johnson early in the second half but Canada couldn’t take advantage.
6 Clarence Goodson (Broendby/DEN, 10/2).
Strong in the air, as expected, yet also dug into tackles sharply and seldom lost his mark or took up a bad position. Showed confidence and accuracy with his passes. Got his head to a free kick but couldn’t generate enough power to test the keeper. Sloppy giveway near his own penalty area offered Canada a possession it squandered.
6 Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls, 5/0).
Survived a scary moment when Simeon Jackson megged him, otherwise blunted Canada repeatedly through shrewd positioning and timing. Chose his moments correctly of when to step and when to drop, and though a couple of his clearances were more hurried then they needed to be, he didn’t scuff anything either. Clipped a nice ball up the line late in the first half.
5 Carlos Bocanegra (St. Etienne/FRA, 88/12).
Not much of a presence offensively, yet stifled several attacks with early tackles and pressure in midfield, a tactic that the Canadians didn’t overcome until late in the match. As usual, repelled several crosses lofted to the back post. Might have gotten away with a foul when he clipped Will Johnson right at the edge of the penalty area.
6 Jermaine Jones (Blackburn/ENG, 6/0)
Balanced out Michael Bradley’s forays forward by holding strong in the middle and exploiting large gaps in the Canadian midfield. Frustrated Dwayne De Rosario and Atiba Hutchinson by tracking back to double-team their possessions and jamming up their passing lanes, which may have persuaded De Ro to play wider as the game unfolded.
7 Michael Bradley (Aston Villa/ENG, 54/8).
Covered acres of ground smoothly and efficiently, switched play with accurate passes, seldom coughed up the ball under pressure or gave it away. Worst moments: Coughed up a ball in the center circle that Canada converted into Gerba’s first right-footed rip, also took a foolish caution. Cracked a couple of shots on frame that were blocked, picked his spots to set up chances. Examples: Looped up the left side midway through the first half to serve an excellent ball from the goal line to Altidore, hit another ball to him after halftime that Altidore badly misjudged.
7 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy, 131/45).
Took a pass from Bradley upfield and slid it through the Canadian back line to set up Altidore’s goal. He constantly dropped back to help defensively with interceptions and blocks, yet always pushed forward in time to join or lead the attack. Used space wisely afforded him when opponent backed off, and worked slick combinations with several teammates in different parts of the field.
7 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG, 72/20).
A few minutes after nearly scoring with an outrageous attempt volleyed from behind his back, he netted a real poacher’s goal by sliding around a defender at the back post and steering a solid shot into the open side. Throughout the game, his mobility and creativity completely flummoxed the opposition, and by occasionally slipping inside –as did Donovan -- he frustrated Canada’s efforts to track him.
6 Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls, 6/2).
A bit erratic with his timing and decisions yet drew a lot of attention through his runs and touches. Belted a first-time shot on a ball cut back from the goal line by Altidore; it went over the bar but he was in the right spot. Set up a chance for himself late in the first half by heading a ball to Cherundolo and trapping the return pass to hit a shot on frame, and also hit a long, bouncing shot the keeper lunged to push away. Also helped his team by pressuring the Canadian defenders and checking into spots to receive passes from midfield.
8 Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor/TUR, 36/11).
Took his goal well after cushioning Donovan’s feed with the outside of his right foot; from a sharp angle, he needed to hit the shot quick and hard, which he did. He looked confident and assertive the entire game, and distributed many accurate balls when checking back. From the wing, he served the right cross at the right moment to set up the second goal after winning the initial ball launched out of the back.
4 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes, 3/0).
Brought his usual energy for the final 25 minutes but his timing and decisions seemed a bit out of sync. The Canadians did monitor him, however, and that counts, too.
5 Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/BEL, 27/4).
Confidently joined the midfield to link with teammates and hold the ball under pressure.
5 Maurice Edu (Rangers/SCO, 23/1).
Shored up a fatigued midfield when he replaced a struggling Jones, and also got into the box to give the flustered Canadians even more to worry about.
(1-low; 5=average; 10=high.)