[USA-JAMAICA REPORT CARD] Coach Bob Bradley took Landon Donovan out of the starting lineup and with a few tactical tweaks and goals by Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey the U.S. eliminated Jamaica, 2-0, to clinch a Gold Cup semifinal spot on Wednesday. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players ...
Rating Player (Club) GP/G
6 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 63/0. Crucial one-on-one save in the opening minutes denied Ryan Johnson and avoided yet another bad start. Once the USA took command he handled everything, except for a scary mix-up between him and Goodson just outside the penalty area for which the keeper took the blame. Solid save on Keammar Daley in the final minutes snuffed out Jamaica's final chance.
6 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover/GER) 70/2. Ranged up the right flank to deliver several effective balls, also tucked in to protect the back post on the few threatening crosses Jamaica was able to produce. Served up an excellent cross that forced a fantastic save from Donovan Ricketts. Handled Dane Richards competently when the winger changed flanks, and gave little space to anybody else.
6 Clarence Goodson (Broendby/DEN) 13/3. Won his usual allotment of stuff in the air, came forward to cause problems on set plays, and also turned nimbly to kick clear a dangerous ball played through the middle. Clashed repeatedly with Luton Sheldon, who was substituted late in the match.
7 Carlos Bocanegra (St. Etienne/FRA) 91/12. Provided cover for Goodson and Lichaj when needed, and marked up tightly on Ryan Johnson to nullify him almost completely. Headed down a corner kick that struck Agudelo on the foot. Blocked a close-range shot in the second half that might have come off his arm. Headed the ball that Dempsey chested and then biked over the crossbar.
6 Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa/ENG) 6/0. Nearly scored when put through on goal by a ball from Michael Bradley, but didn’t hit low shot hard enough to get past Ricketts. Defended very well both in sync with teammates and one-v-one, though Richards did break clear on a few occasions. Slid over to clear a ball after a Goodson slip opened up a gap
7 Jermaine Jones (Blackburn/ENG) 9/1. Bossed the midfield in another impressive performance and knitted together a five-man alignment with intelligent passes and the occasional supporting run. Twice lucky when his shot deflected off an opponent’s foot into the net and with a flop following minimal contact that produced a red card for Jamaica. Shook off a forearm to the face from Ryan Johnson.
4 Michael Bradley (Aston Villa/ENG) 57/8. First-half giveaways in the middle third could been costly, but he and his teammates usually chased down the turnovers. Too slow to clear the zone when Jamaica nearly scored in opening minutes. Played a shrewd through ball for Lichaj that provided a great chance. Glanced a header from a corner kick that flashed across the goalmouth but nobody could turn it into the net. Cut down on his errors to help manage the game after Jones broke open the deadlock.
7 Alejandro Bedoya. (Orebro/SWE) 11/0. Sharp and clever on the ball, and constantly active away from the play, Bedoya rekindled memories of his promising first few appearances for the U.S. He used both feet to hit crosses from the right flank, and also contributed defensively. He earned applause by tracking back all the way to his own endline to blunt a Jamaican attack late in the first half. Headed down a cross from Kljestan to provide a chance for Dempsey.
7 Sacha Kljestan. (Anderlecht/BEL) 30/4. Slightly less prominent than some of his teammates but no less important as they linked passes and movement to befuddle the Jamaicans in all aspects of play. Took a lot of the set plays in the absence of Donovan and delivered a few effective ones. Nice dribble and cross set up Bedoya for a header he put wide of the post, great through ball sent Donovan clear with a chance he squandered.
6 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 75/21. Regained his finishing sharpness yet was stopped four times by Ricketts, and also hit a bike over the crossbar. He tested the keeper with a bending free kick, an acrobatic volley, a close-range header, and a low shot in the final seconds. His effort and energy, not to mention perseverance, finally earned a reward when he coolly controlled a ball from Agudelo and took it past Ricketts’ desperate lunge to tap home the clinching goal.
NR Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor/TUR) 39/12. Looked strong and confident in the opening minutes, but hobbled off with a strained hamstring trying to chase down a well-hit long ball from Goodson.
7 Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls) 8/2. Got into the flow fairly quickly after replacing Altidore in the 12th minute. Forced a good save from Ricketts with a hard, low shot with a daring dribble after collecting a pass from Dempsey, and with 10 minutes left ran down a ball on the right flank to center a ball Dempsey tucked away. His work off the ball opened up space for his fellow attackers.
5 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy, 134/45). Dawdled with a through ball from Kljestan a few minutes after replacing Bedoya and was caught offside trying to play a one-two with Dempsey with Ricketts way out of his net. Brought some energy and provided the ball that Agudelo set up for Dempsey.
5 Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers/SCO) 23/1. Closed down space in midfield and won balls to further frustrate the Jamaicans after his entry in the 75th minute.