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U.S. Player Ratings
by Ridge Mahoney, June 23rd, 2011 1:22AM

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TAGS:  gold cup, men's national team


[USA-PANAMA REPORT CARD] The USA gained revenge for a 2-1 loss to Panama in group play by posting a 1-0 win with a Clint Dempsey goal in the Gold Cup semifinals. Strong games by several players, and a great return to the national team for Freddy Adu -- last seen playing for the USA at the 2009 Gold Cup -- propelled the Americans into another final against archrival Mexico. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players.


Starters
Rating Player (Club) GP/G
7 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 64/0.
Spectacular fingertip save on a rising laser from Armando Cooper in the 70th minute kept the game scoreless, and a late save on a low shot from distance smothered Panama’s final chance. Howard also cleanly handled a short-hop at the near post, and came out quickly to punch clear a cross with some swerve on it. Jawed with Luis Tejada when the forward tried to disrupt his attempt to throw a ball upfield.

6 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover/GER) 71/2. Was caught upfield twice when Panama overloaded his side: Alberto Quintero narrowly missed Nelson Barahona’s driven centering ball, and Howard saved Cooper’s shot. Otherwise, he tucked inside to win second balls and clear out scrambles, pushed balls upfield and followed them to join the attack, and curled an excellent cross that Agudelo headed off the post. Stood over Luis Tejada and barked at him for diving.

6 Clarence Goodson (Broendby/DEN) 14/3. A monster in the air repelling the high balls that came his way, he also cleared a very dangerous centering pass with a slide tackle that got the ball out of the penalty area. A few times he waded into furious melees to block a shot or hack away a loose ball. Late in the first half he overran the play and gave away a free kick near the penalty area with a risky tackle. In the final minutes failed to reach a long throw-in that bounced for a shot Panama put over the bar.

7 Carlos Bocanegra (St. Etienne/FRA) 92/12. Played perhaps his best game of the tournament. He slid left to cover for Lichaj when U.S. rotated up that side, stepped up into midfield to win balls played behind Bradley and Jones, stayed connected with Goodson to constrict space in the middle and also chased down the occasional long ball played over the top. Cautioned for a challenge on Quintero. He timed his challenges in the air well and usually got good distance on his clearances.

6 Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa/ENG) 7/0. Gave the attack width from his left-back position while monitoring Panama’s tendency to send Quintero, Barahona, and Adolfo Machado into the attack. Curled in a couple of balls that Panama failed to clear cleanly, one fell for Jones to strike at goal, also delivered a few effective long throw-ins. Hit an excellent ball across the goalmouth early in the second half that nobody could quite reach.

7 Jermaine Jones (Blackburn/ENG) 10/1. Another warrior performance stifled Panama by rugged battling and relentless workrate. Shook off a fierce foul early in each half that hobbled him for a minute but didn’t diminish his effectiveness. Took a pair of left-footed, first-time shots on partial clearances that went wide (once via a teammate’s deflection). Ran a ball deep into Panama’s half to kill time late in the match, sent ball to Cherundolo for cross that Agudelo headed off the post.

5 Michael Bradley (Aston Villa/ENG) 58/8. Cut down on the turnovers that plagued his performance against Jamaica, but still he occasionally hit a languid or misdirected pass. Strong and determined in the tackle, he simply overpowered or outfought opponents to win balls in critical situations. Hit a nice crossfield ball that Dempsey headed for Agudelo but keeper Jaime Penedo got there first. In the final minutes Bradley passed up a chance to shoot and instead played a pass that was intercepted.

6 Alejandro Bedoya. (Orebro/SWE) 12/0. Seldom given much time or space to show his trickery, he tested Panama often by hard running and sharp touches. Also vied for head balls and won a few of them against bigger, stronger opponents to put chances in threatening situations. Served a nice cross that a teammate headed just behind Dempsey, worked a combination with Agudelo and Cherundolo that Panama stopped with a desperate tackle at the edge of the penalty area.

4 Sacha Kljestan. (Anderlecht/BEL) 31/4. Struggled to find his place in the attack as he and Bedoya and Dempsey circulated to support each other and Agudelo. Gave an honest effort but was often either a step behind the play or hesitant at the critical moment. Dived into a couple of tackles aggressively to blunt Panama’s attempts to transition quickly after winning the ball, but wasn’t able to work free to hit crosses or find shots.

7 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 76/22. Ranged all over the attacking third to stretch and pull the Panamanian back line, got up wincing after several hard fouls but played to the final whistle. Headed down crosses for teammates, nearly broke through on a one-two with Agudelo but was tripped up on a no-call. Scored with another vintage finish at the back post, lunging to get his foot to the ball and prodding it home from a few yards out.

5 Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls) 9/2. Crowded off the ball a few times, he nevertheless carved out chances for his teammates after being flattened going for a through ball in the first minute. Hit post with a diving header in the 25th minute. Put Dempsey through early in the second half but an opponent’s unpunished trip killed the opportunity.

Substitutes

6 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 135/45).
Slow to stamp his influence as a halftime sub but found more room on the right side. His seeing-eye pass through the ankles of an opponent provided Dempsey with his chance. Donovan helped run down the clock and also set up Dempsey with a ball he couldn’t nick through a challenge.

6 Freddy Adu (Rizespor/TUR) 16/2. After hitting a superb diagonal ball from the center circle to set in motion the U.S. scoring play, he gave away two balls that could have been costly, then finished strong with some determined possession play. Left-footed corner kick wasn’t bad even though it was headed clear.

(1-low; 5=average; 10=high.)



0 comments
  1. John Munnell
    commented on: June 23, 2011 at 8:47 a.m.
    Howard and Donovan are overrated. Howard was not really challenged --- solid work, but nothing extraordinary. Donovan really hasn't been good lately. His (GREAT!) assist on the goal was the one productive thing he contributed. Otherwise, his touches were sloppy and defensive work was unremarkable. Adu is probably overrated, too --- though his pass to release Donovan on the goal sequence was definitely a cut above. Bedoya is underrated. He was a constant thorn in Panama's side, constantly getting to balls offensively and defensively which surprised his opponents. Lichaj may be slightly underrated, as he was solid defensively and also surprised/troubled Panama going forward.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: June 23, 2011 at 8:47 a.m.
    Sometimes it's tough to rate players' performances. I thought Dempsey had a relatively weak game, except for the goal (which was huge). Donovan was invisible for the first 20 minutes he was on, then was probably the best player on the field for the last 25 or so. Adu had some great play, but also gave the ball away 2x in dangerous spots. Jones hit some nice long passes and certainly worked hard defensively, but gave the ball away too often (and often unforced). Bob Bradley certainly made some gutsy calls (Donovan and Adu), but overall it was not a pretty game, and we didn't create many great chances (but both the goal and Agudelo's header were great plays). But we did get the win. I thought the referee had a poor game, allowing a lot of very physical (to use a euphemism) play, and then making some very questionable foul calls (I find it hard to believe that Agudelo committed more fouls than he suffered, for example). Although admittedly, it was a tough game to call (too much hacking, too much diving), and at least he didn't give away any cheap penalty kicks.

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: June 23, 2011 at 8:49 a.m.
    Finally Mahoney rates the players right and he had the courage to rate Bradley the lowest in the last two games. Bravo! Anyway what's with Donovan? He doesn't seem to be himself. He looks awfully reserved and drawn. It seems that BB and LD have fallen out. Seems that he has lost respect for BB altogether and finally sheding the "brown nosing" suit that most of the players are enforced to wear. But no matter how estranged the two are BB can't leave LD out. Kudos to LD by refusing to be forced into the corral of nepotism, decit, lies and failures.

  1. Kerry Ogden
    commented on: June 23, 2011 at 11:25 a.m.
    I agree 100% with John and Kent as far as SA's ratings of Bedoya & Lichaj both have been underrated by the SA staff, Donovan over the past several yrs. seems to lost his spark to play at the National level which is ashame,he is such a good player and Bocanegra is another player who has been overrated.I hope the MNT can develope into a better team down the road, good luck against Mexico.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: June 23, 2011 at 11:37 a.m.
    Agree w/John Munnell's comments...IMHO, it's plain truth, the USMNT can't give more...against a mediocre Panama they scratched out a win based on a timely efficient counter during which the frozen defender did not pressure LD on his centering pass...it's the team chemistry that isn't working properly, the simplicity of play and runs off the ball are lacking...when LD & Adu entered the game, off the ball runs were more effective...higher ratings were not actually for performance, but for the lack of efficacy by the opponent...ref did not abide by the laws of the game, permitted encroachment on free kicks and parked the FK wall 2 yards short....watched this contest on Univision, can't stand Martino/Dellacamera hot-air windage.

  1. Albert Harris
    commented on: June 23, 2011 at 11:56 a.m.
    Comments seem to me just to reflect how subjective evaluations are. In general I agreed with Ridge's ratings which doesn't mean that I wouldn't differ up or down 1 depending on the individual. Regarding Lichaj, I've liked what I've seen but really think his best spot is on the right in the future. I don't see him as a LB except as an emergency fix. He just isn't 2 footed enough to deliver the left footed balls you expect from the left flank. The search goes on for a left back for this cycle I think. I still think Bobby Convey deserves another shot since he's playing well in SJ and does have the proper foot, but I despair of BB ever bringing him back. Apparently the coach will sit down our leading scorer to 'send a message' but the only indispensable player is his son. I like the younger Bradley's play, but I think he's a better player than his father is a coach. One man's opinion anyway.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: June 23, 2011 at 12:36 p.m.
    Wow! Wonder of wonders! that Ragin' Ridge Mahoney finally woke up and smelled the deliciously brewin coffee, is a miracle indeed, with his low ranking of Banality Junior's performance, as well as that for Klejstan although I feel that Bradley shoul've gotten a 4. And Im w's comment is spot on, good job I w, so let's at least this coming Saturday, band together and wish the team a very good game and lots of good fortune!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: June 23, 2011 at 12:52 p.m.
    P.S. Is there any truth to the rumor that LD underwent some medical knees procedure? If so, could this be a reason why his play has "diminished" somewhat? As for the possible "falling out" with BB, as well as other players, I wouldn't doubt it, however, if they did speak out publicly, there is the matter of retaliation and no possible future call ups. Still, with LD and several others having played for BB now for the past six years, as the old saying goes, "familiarity breeds contempt...."

  1. James Madison
    commented on: June 23, 2011 at 11:27 p.m.
    There is no rational reason for ratings to go up just because the US wins. Howard deserves a 6, and Adu, Donovan and Dempsey likewise as the result of bonus points for combining on a brilliant goal. But 5s for the rest, except for 4s for Klejstan and Bradley. Points off for Bradley for passing limply after a beautiful ball from Adu virtually begged him to put the dagger in the Panama heart. Moreover, Bradley did not play as well under pressure as he had against Jamaica which gave him space. That bodes ill against Mexico which likely will pressure him mercilessly.

  1. Ernest Irelan
    commented on: June 24, 2011 at 8:58 a.m.
    I saw nothing spectacular about the play of Adu...he played as he should..avg..was his play, so a 5 in my eyes was my rating if rating is what one could call it...to not make an accurate pass when it presented the opportunity would have been below avg. ability for any player. The turnovers were what made him avg. for me..just to make a good pass once does not make him above avg...

  1. Paul Lorinczi
    commented on: June 24, 2011 at 12:10 p.m.
    Ernest - if Adu is average, the rest of the team is crap. He showed his class with good confident touches his teammates have trouble doing.He had 2 bad touches but settle down and set up what should have been a 2nd goal. I think Michael Bradley is showing his limitations and the reasons larger clubs do not want to take a risk with him. He is just not as good as his Dad thinks he is. Least of all, the USMNT should not be built around him. Too bad BB did not call up Paco Torres. I think the US would be deadlier with a Torres-Jones pairing. Torres has quality touch like Adu too. That would never happen with Bob Bradley as coach.


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