[USA-HONDURAS REPORT CARD] Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann notched his initial victory in a 1-0 U.S. win over Honduras in Miami Saturday night. A great Clint Dempsey goal and another top-flight game by Tim Howard edged the Americans past a determined Honduran team.
USA-HONDURAS REPORT CARD
GRADE PLAYER (Team/Country) GP/G
8 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG), 69/0. There’s too much dependency on the U.S. keeper, who bailed out his team again with an excellent game that included highlight-reel saves of myriad types, including a flying stop on substitute Mario Martinez, a brave one-v-one block to deny Jerry Bengston, and a full-length dive to reach a low rip by Carlo Costly. He seldom booted the long ball, preferring quick outlet passes to initiate possession.
5 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover/GER), 75/2. He worked well on the right flank with Williams on overlaps and interpassing, and won a lot of his battles, but didn’t always deal competently with Costly and Bengston. He set up the goal with a slick reverse turn and delicate ball up the flank that Brek Shea drove across the goalmouth. Hit a few good corner kicks that the Hondurans won in the air.
3 Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis/MEX), 4/0. Getting scorched by Jerry Bengston and watching two balls float over his head to set up dangerous chances added up to a rough first half. He inadvertently deflected Shea’s cross to Dempsey in the lead-up to the U.S. goal. He read situations poorly and never matched the speed of play. He left at halftime, supposedly with a slight injury.
5 Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers/SCO), 97/12. He shut off numerous dangerous buildups with strong tackles, often in one-v-one situations, and deflected a Costly shot by covering for Onyewu. He started a good sequence with a midfield interception he relayed first time to Dempsey early in the second half. As captain, he needed to do a better job of organizing the defense and making adjustments when Honduras got their attacking game in gear and often he lost connection with Orozco Fiscal.
6 Tim Chandler (Nuremberg/GER), 5/0. Worked some great combinations with Shea, and hit several dangerous crosses, one of which Shea flicked narrowly wide. Shea ran onto a Chandler ball played into the channel to fire a shot narrowly wide. He’s still raw and his reading of situations has to improve, especially against one-twos, yet his athleticism and aggression are pluses.
6 Danny Williams (Hoffenheim/GER), 1/0. Debutant went 65 minutes on the right flank and displayed ruggedness and a willingness to go for goal; a point-blank header on a far post cross was blocked, a curling shot just missed the top corner, and low shot forced an excellent save from Donis Escobar. He didn’t cross much but laid a couple balls for Cherundolo to do so. He showed his inexperience defensively by getting caught upfield and chasing the wrong option, yet did well against a difficult opponent in rainy conditions.
5 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake),15/1. First-half giveaways and slow reactions to Honduran combination play left gaps in midfield, but he also broke up plays and played many short, effective passes. Roger Espinoza’s clever movement occasionally got the best of him though he sharpened his game in the second half, and obviously has the engine and zeal to handle the job against Concacaf teams.
4 Maurice Edu (Rangers/SCO), 28/1. He nearly scored by nicking a curving Cherundolo free kick that the keeper parried, and also drove for the rebound of a saved Williams shot the keeper covered just in time. His ball-winning forced Honduras to foul him several times, and Boniek Garcia was cautioned for a late challenge on Edu. Yet he got caught too far off the Honduran midfielders and were unable to shut off their service, which created some very good opportunities.
6 Brek Shea (FC Dallas), 6/0. The missed sitter from Jozy Altidore’s excellent square ball that left him with a tap-in he somehow flubbed will haunt him for a while, but he otherwise joined Dempsey as the best U.S. attackers. He tested Honduras often with runs up the flank or into the channel, narrowly missed putting away a header, and also hit one of the night’s best crosses that Williams headed on goal. He came up limping from a nasty tackle late in the first half yet finished the match strongly.
7 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG), 79/23. He showed once again just how dangerous and clinical he can be on and off the ball. He scored a great goal with a pullback and crisp shot into the top corner after collecting a ball driven across the penalty area, and lost another goal when he climbed so high he kneed his marker between the shoulder blades as he headed the ball into the net. Set up another shot with a stepover that forced keeper Escobar into a spectacular save, and constantly tormented the Hondurans with his intelligent movement and clever runs deployed as a second forward.
6 Jozy Altidore (AZ/NED), 42/12. He’s gained some confidence and sharpness by playing regularly in the Netherlands with AZ; he moved sharply and decisively most of the time, got the ball off his feet quickly, and played a role in several fluid buildups. If not for Shea’s atrocious flub he’d have earned an assist after he took an intelligent touch on the right flank to get the space he needed for an accurate, low cross.
5 Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon/POR), 61/6. Blew a great scoring chance by flailing a point-blank rebound over the crossbar, on the defensive side tackled competently but came up short on pace a few times.
6 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX), 94/17. Got into the flow quickly on the left flank to win a few balls and also buzz into the Honduran penalty area; once got tangled up with Dempsey yet got a shot at the keeper.
5 Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona/ITA), 61/9. Tackled languidly twice on the edge of the defensive third, otherwise did his job, and nearly worked a one-two with Dempsey in the opposing penalty area. Scuffed a shot wide in final seconds.
5 Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City/ENG), 32/0. Replaced Chandler and took over his duties on the left flank; hit a great right-footed cross that Dempsey headed into the net.
NR Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), 14/2. Came on for Altidore in the 83rd minute.