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U.S. player ratings
by Ridge Mahoney, September 3rd, 2011 3:42AM

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TAGS:  men's national team

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[USA-COSTA RICA REPORT CARD] Long stretches of inspired play failed to produce a goal, and the USA fell in Jurgen Klinsmann’s second game in charge. Tim Howard, Jose Torres, Brek Shea and Tim Chandler earned the highest USA marks among the starters. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. performances ...

Starters:
7 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG), 67/0.
Barely touched the ball in the first half until the last few minutes, when two sharp saves kept the game goalless. Also saved well on Costa Rican scoring sequence by stopping the initial shot and also got a piece of the follow-up attempt that ricocheted into the net. Handled crosses and through balls impeccably but still gets hung with a loss.

6 Tim Chandler (Nuremberg/GER) 3/0.
Very strong and active getting forward, served decent balls in the box and set up Agudelo late in the match with a tenacious push into the penalty area. He tired near the end of the first half and was AWOL when Costa Rica got two good chances on his side of the field. Yet he maintained his energy and ruggedness through the entire 90 minutes.

4 Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis/MEX) 3/0.
Solid and composed for much of the game but very inconsistent with his clearances when under pressure, and didn’t react well when Costa Rica scored and pressed forth in search of a second goal. Alvaro Saborio got the better of him a few times and he mistimed a couple of tackles in risky situations.

5 Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers/SCO) 95/12.
Confusion abounded between him and Fiscal when a ball played over the top stranded both of them and led to the Costa Rican goal. As captain, he must ensure either one of the centerbacks plays sweeper and the other marks up, or that if the offside trap is played it is done so effectively. Otherwise he clogged up a lot of opposing attacks, headed balls out of danger and cut out crosses, but wasn’t able to shore up his side when Castillo got into trouble.

3 Edgar Castillo (Club America/MEX) 3/0.
There are defensive issues that must be addressed. When not pressured in the first half, he probed forward and played a few nice combinations, though he didn’t serve the ball well. Struggled through a rough second half with Costa Rican substitute Daniel Colindres taking the ball down his side and as of now, lacks the defensive instincts to find solutions. Terrible crossfield giveaway typified his nightmare second half.

5 Maurice Edu (Rangers/SCO) 26/1.
Covered a lot of ground as the deepest, holding central midfielder and most of his passes went to the right person. Lined up a shot late in the game but scuffed it wide. Cautioned for studs-up tackle that screamed of Scotland. Often stranded alone as midfield turnovers provided Costa Rica with a numbers advantage, but regained some of his strength in the final minute to help turn momentum to the USA side.

6 Jose Torres (Pachuca/MEX) 13/0.
Excellent touches for the most part, though rarely did he attempt the killer through ball. Hit a splendid example early in the match but the offside flag went up. Lost duel in midfield triggered one of Costa Rica’s best attacks, and he also took punishing hits that were probably fouls. Switched play nicely on numerous occasions and hit a screamer from distance that forced a flying save. Reluctance to cross first-time with his right foot twice resulted in offside calls when Costa Rica pushed up as he moved the ball to his left foot.

4 Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew) 15/2.
Started poorly and shakily as attacks died on his indecision and poor execution. Improved, ironically, as Costa Rica came more into the game and he contributed a few key defensive plays. But offensively, looked nothing like the livewire who stung Mexico as a sub three weeks ago, and frankly, when he and Chandler attacked together on the flank, Chandler looked the more dangerous.

6 Brek Shea (FC Dallas) 4/0.
A bright spot for most of the game, if also a somewhat puzzling one. Got to the byline to drill crosses of varying height and angle, not quite so confident when veering inside looking to shoot or slip tight diagonal balls. Attacked several crosses and dead balls in the first half and bounced one attempt wide after a courageous challenge earned the opportunity. Put in a creditable effort defensively. Set up the best U.S. chances of the night with deft passes to Altidore and Donovan.

4 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 138/46.
His glaring miss on a great first-half chance could have been forgiven had he contributed in other areas, but he didn’t. His corners were flaccid, his free kicks – aside from one that dropped just over the crossbar – lacked menace. He rarely scythed past a second and third challenger on the dribble, even in a first half played more passively than any Costa Rican national team in recent memory facing the USA. One good cross provided Shea with a shot that bounced wide.

5 Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar/NED) 40/12.
Did his job as the lone forward by controlling balls with his feet and chest, but didn’t always have good options to use the ball once he’d tamed it. Played a couple of nice combinations with his head that narrowly failed to connect, and powered onto a long ball from Shea to skip a shot wide of the near post. Linked with Shea smoothly to create chance Donovan put wide.

Substitutes:
6 Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls) 12/2.
Sparked the USA attack after replacing Altidore in the 62nd minute. Opened up spaces between the Costa Rican centerbacks, one of whom, Michael Umana, upended him to weaken one his attempts at goal. Forced a brave save from Navas with a pulverizing shot from close range.

5 Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/BEL) 34/4.
Tidied up things in midfield and played competently if conservatively after his entrance in the 64th minute.



0 comments
  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 9:15 a.m.
    Ridge, Chandler a 2, Edu a 2.5. Even though Orozco looked awful on a clear at the 18 he played solid. Nobody was better than Torres last night. His creativeness out of tight spaces is impressive. He was fouled throught the game. Ref gets a 1. Jozy can not be asked to play lone forward in a real game as he proved. He needs someone like Agudelo to play off of. Again creativity displayed by Agudelo proves what is missing in Usmnt. Now lets get Gomez and Corona to get this attack going. Shea did not have his best game but he is a weapon.

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 9:27 a.m.
    Unfortunately, the biggest and longest-standing weakness in the US lineup remains glaring -- left back. Castillo, like Bornstein and Pearce before him, is clearly unqualified at this level. Time to move on to the next candidate. Orozco Fiscal should be on thin ice as well -- the US lost control of the game when the backline began giving the ball away.

  1. Mike Terich
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 9:45 a.m.
    Torres was man of the match & looked more creative & dangerous than I have ever seen him. Landon, like he has for most of his 2011 USMNT campaign, looked a step slow & all of his balls seemed just a bit off. Brek is still developing, but is promising. Rogers experiment needs to end, he is simply not talented enough at this level. Chandler looks the part at times & should settle with time. The center back partnership needs to ne sorted & consistent before judging M.O. Fiscal too harshly. Castillo flatters to deceive at times, but clearly needs more development with a defensive minded club/coach before getting another start. Jozy looked better as a target man than I have ever seen him, but he definitely needs that nippy striker to have a back & forth at the top of the attack. Timmy Howard is simply outstanding.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 10:26 a.m.
    Ridge largely got these ratings right. Castillo looked good coming forward, but needs to develop his defensive skills. Fiscal seemed invisible for much of the match, and unfortunately he gave the ball away under relatively little pressure a few times in a row when we were back on our heels and really needed some breathing room. Torres has great vision and can make some incisive passes (there was one 40 yd pass that split 5 players and hit Shea (?) on a diagonal run from the flank that was a think of beauty). I do have one concern about Torres, and that is he often tries to hold the ball under pressure by shielding it; but instead of being able to hold off defenders physically, he tends to get knocked of the ball and must rely on the ref to call the fouls, which is not a particularly reliable strategy. In those circumstances, I'd rather see him use his speed and quickness to dribble away from pressure (or simply drop the ball off quickly). Edu is a solid player defensively, but rarely makes an incisive pass (most of his passes are very safe, which is okay, but not as good as I'd like to see) and doesn't carry the ball forward much. But if Donovan and Torres are in front of him going forward, being defensive minded might not be a bad thing here. Howard reminded us of why he's been the starter for such a long time, Shea and Torres confirmed that they should be in the mix, and Altidore looked like he's really improved in the past year.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 11:04 a.m.
    Castillo almost makes me miss Bornstein at left back. Actually, Bornstein is probably a better choice -- just as inept defensively but a bit better offensively. Castillo doesn't seem to be capable of passing the ball at all. Orozco is certainly not an answer in the middle of defense. Donovan looked lost. Rogers is not an international caliber player. I was hoping to see Agudelo paired up with Altidore, so the substitution, being behind, was very disappointing. Klinsmann kept saying after the game that he was very happy with how the team played. Happy with no shots on goal till the 70th minute??

  1. John Roode
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 11:11 a.m.
    Not sure why Torres gets a free pass. He's an average player at best. He's not a defender and he's not an attacker. As was mentioned, didn't see anything decisive that caused problems in the way of through balls or balls that changed the point of attack for the defense. Had one decent shot. That was it. But the real problem was Edu as the lone defending midfielder. This caused Shea and Rogers to have too much defensive responsibility on the flanks. Therefore, they couldn't get forward like they did against Mexico. We played on a very long and narrow field because of that as well. Beckerman, inserted for Torres alongside Edu, allows the wings to get into the final 3rd easier and with less effort. We are playing on a wider, shorter field. Plus, his balls are as decisive as Torres are. He may not look as pretty as Torres. But I guarantee you, the end-results are better.

  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 12:52 p.m.
    David, I wholeheartedly disagree with your assessment that Bornstein is better offensively than Castillo. For one thing, Bornstein is not a two-footed player. Bornstein also lacks field vision when he carries the ball forward. I like Castillo, but I am concerned if he has the size and strength to play the position. I agree that Rogers just isn't good enough to play his position at this level. I wish Freddy Adu had gotten a call-up. I believe he would have fit in nicely in this type of attack offense. Altidore is currently playing with tremendous confidence. USMNT definitely needs to play more games together so they will be more in sinc. I'm so looking forward to seeing Stuart Holden and Clint Dempsey in the first 11 in the near future.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 1:44 p.m.
    I don't know, Paul. At least Bornstein is capable of getting a decent cross into the box on occasion. Castillo's passes and crosses makes you wonder if there is a problem with his eyesight.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 1:56 p.m.
    Well, it sure as heck didn't too long to read the comments, especially aimed at "some" of the players, did it? Bornestein better than Castillo? Are you serious? Jazzy Josy is not ready for prime time, all he's capable of doing is to be like a bull in a china shopt, but a bull that doesn't even break any china! LD did look tired, but I challenge anyone of you guys, especially Ragin Ridge to be fed a crossing ball on the ground and at full stride attempt to score low and to the right inside the post? And to give Castillo the only 3, followed by Rodgers 4, and then Sacha a 5, and Agudelo a 6??? Come now Ragin!!! Your bias is showing!!!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 1:58 p.m.
    David, I've seen Bornstein play since his college days to the Chivas then to the MNT, and I am sure as heck glad he's not on the team. Instead of progressing, he regressed so much under BB's tutelage that it is sad! How is your eyesight?

  1. James Madison
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 4:16 p.m.
    Torres is for real. That Costa Rica ganged up to foul him is all the evidence needed. The CR should have recognized this and dealt out a warning, a caution (for collective persistent infringement) and then a send-off (for persisting in infringing after being cautioned). Chandler got forward more dangerously than Rogers and then sent careless crosses. The jury is still out on Shea. LD zones in and out. Last night was more out than in. With Altidore and Agudelo, it's like Goldilocks and the three bears: one is too cold and the other too hot. How about one in the middle with strength and ball skills, but more game sense.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: September 3, 2011 at 6 p.m.
    FYI John Roode, Torres is a playmaker and if u didn't see some sound field play, than u are missing the big picture...your analysis is typical, too much of this causes too much of that when a well balanced team is the answer to the problems as the building process moved into its SECOND GAME...your end results brings the USMNT back to Bradleyvision...technical players seem not to be your cup of tea.


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