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U.S. Player Ratings: The nearly men
by Mike Woitalla, March 27th, 2012 2:15AM

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TAGS:  olympics

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[USA-EL SALVADOR REPORT CARD] In the 3-3 tie that ended the USA's quest to play in next summer's Olympic Games, defensive flaws and a disjointed central midfield overshadowed the flashes of brilliance that gave the Americans a 1-0 edge in the first minute and turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. Soccer America's Mike Woitalla grades the U.S. players ...

Starters
GRADE PLAYER (CLUB/COUNTRY)
3 Bill Hamid (D.C. United).

For the second straight game, beaten by a header within the goal area on a corner kick. That goal came three minutes after he was treated for an ankle injury – and two minutes before conceding a second goal not his fault. Coach Caleb Porter replaced Hamid with Johnson after the second goal.

3 Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo).
Had trouble containing Jaime Alas and resorted to fouls. Was marking Lester Blanco when he headed in the corner kick.

3 Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes).

Center back waited too long to challenge Alas before he unleashed the shot that made it 3-3.

3 Perry Kitchen (D.C. United).
Gave away too many balls, including in the sequence that led to the Salvadorans’ second goal.

3 Jorge Villafana (Chivas USA).
His biggest lapse proved costly: He didn’t notice Andres Flores sneak behind him toward the far post to finish Alas’ delivery.

2 Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union).
Picked up a yellow in the seventh minute with a foolish foul. Let Alas elude him to take the shot that Flores struck home for El Salvador’s 2-1 goal and didn’t close down Alas on the goal that ousted the Americans.

3 Mix Diskerud (Gent/BEL).

Must take blame in a midfield for which prolonged possession proved rare and did little to disrupt the Salvadorans' quick maneuvers down field.

6 Joe Corona (Tijuana/MEX).
Awoke from quiet performance to head in the USA’s third goal -- but denied hero status because of Alas’ last-gasp equalizer.

7 Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union).
Squandered opportunities late in the first half but persevered to set up the USA’s last two goals, first sending Boyd through and then evading Milton Molina with a nice move to send the cross that Corona headed in for the 3-2 lead.

8 Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund II/GER).
Excellent close-range volley gave the USA the lead in the 1st minute and precise strike inside the near post provided the 2-2 equalizer.

5 Brek Shea (FC Dallas).
Perfect service created the USA’s first goal and menaced all night on the left flank. But Shea also misplayed a ball that gave El Salvador possession before its third goal.

Subs:
2 Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire).
The goalkeeper handled securely the crosses and shots that came his way after replacing Hamid in the 39th minute and his long punt found Adu to set up the second U.S. goal -- but with seconds left to play he failed to block Alas’ 24-yard shot even though he got both hands to the ball.

nr Michael Stephens (Los Angeles Galaxy).
Replaced Corona in the 88th minute.

nr Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim/GER).

Stoppage-time sub for Adu.

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



15 comments
  1. Kerry Ogden
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 9:04 a.m.
    Terrrence Boyd is by far the most over rated player in this line. Yeah he scored 2 goal's on excellent service by Shea and Adu but other than that contributed very little throughout the entire game. Shea should have had a higher rating considering he was one of the most treatening players from what I saw on the pitch, it was evident by how many Salvadorians surronded him anytime he recieved to ball, Adu did very good also. It's sad that they lost,Thanks mainly in part to the terrible refing, but that's what happens when you have a team that has spent very little time in it's preperation for this event!!!!

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 9:24 a.m.
    My sophomore high school keeper plays better than those two national team "prospects".

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 9:38 a.m.
    Johnson has to live with the worst howler in US Soccer history, and I feel for the kid, because the simple fact is that this team didn’t remotely deserve to go to the Olympics, because there just isn’t enough talent. Perhaps Porter doesn’t recognize it and can’t bring it in, but I tend to think there’s just an absence of development. This was a team with three real pros – Adu, Shea and Corona – one potential star in Boyd, and one pretty decent prospect in Sarkodie. Other than that, the cupboard looks pretty bare. I know he has lots of fans, but I say Hamid is not an international-class keeper, no matter how good his shot-stopping reflexes. He’s indecisive, waiting for his defenders to call him out instead of commanding the area. He was late and timid off his line on every required occasion in the last two games, and that timidity is how he got beaten in the first and hurt in the second. The pleasures of watching a speedy US backline for a change quickly disappeared with the realization that speed is useless without skill (Kitchen), positioning fundamentals (Sarkodie), poise (Villafana) or any of the above (Okugo, Opara). Kitchen’s giveaways are high-school stuff, Villafana looked like a panicky middle-schooler being bounced off the ball, Okugo is outright buffoonish, and Opara may simply be the worst instinctual player I have ever seen in US colors. If there’s a decision to be made – like playing that ridiculously easy little ball rolling past his feet on the second goal – he doesn’t have even a coin flip’s chance of getting it right. I’ve heard commentators project Diskerud as a potential US playmaker. Well, they’re right about half the time. Diskerud in space is an artist. Diskerud under pressure is a teenaged babysitter with a crying infant at his feet – he knows he has to do something immediately, he just doesn’t know what. So no Olympics, and perhaps even worse, there’s clearly not much help coming for the World Cup. Sure, Shea will be a starter and Adu, Corona and Boyd all look like welcome potential contributors to the senior attack. Corona is Dempsey-esque and Adu has clearly grown up a lot. But where the US needs help most, in central defense, their best will be 63-year-old Carlos Bocanegra. There’s nobody coming up through the ranks. That’s big trouble.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 10:15 a.m.
    Mike G, I didn't see the game, but your comments drew a clear picture of what our problems are.Except for the few you mentioned,we don't have anyone coming through the ranks to replace our current crop of US Nationals.I don't know Shea's background,but Adu,Corona and Boyd were not developed by our current Academy system.

  1. Douglas Wood
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.
    Two things came to mind when I read the above comments. My 11-year-old son went to our state's ODP tryouts last year. I wasn't confident he'd progress but I was disappointed when he came off the field and said the boys that advanced were, in his words, the "strikers and showoffs." None of the boys who played defense advanced. Now, that's the thoughts of a disappointed 11-year-old but I thought of his comments when watching the game last night and reading the comments this morning. You have to have defense to win games but Americans love offense, not defense, and it shows. You can score all the goals you want but if you can't shut down the other team, you don't win. My other thought was that all the players last night looked stressed when under pressure with the ball and the passing was not fluid. There were moments of brilliance -- like the first goal -- but it seemed like the U.S. conceded possession far too easily with bad passes, especially in the last 10 minutes, which led to the equalizer. We have got to start emphasizing possession and control of the ball beginning in the youth system all the way up to MLS or we will never advance in international soccer. The passing and control of the ball in just about any Premiere League or La Liga game are a delight to watch. We cannot compete with that if we don't develop players of similar skills. This game is a symptom of larger problems.

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 11:22 a.m.
    Walt, Brek Shea is a product of the US youth academy system... Dallas Texans, I believe. For some reason he has developed a presence on the ball that few academy products have. But without his size and speed, I doubt he would have been recognized. So he's as much a symptom of the system as a credit to it.

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 11:25 a.m.
    Kerry Ogden, I disagree on Boyd. He definitely has rough edges to smooth out, but he has two natural gifts that are rare in American strikers -- great natural timing on his runs and superb composure in the box.

  1. Kerry Ogden
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 12:03 p.m.
    Mike Gaynes I can only agree on one of your statements, Boyd yes is good in the box but you have forgot that it all started from the delivery!!! If it weren't for Shea & Adu's spot on delieveries, the goals would not have happened & Boyd was also unmarked on both goals where Corona's goal occurred while being marked!!! Otherwise I see Boyd as a selfish player and I saw this in Adu expression on several occasions last night. Individualism was a key part of the U-23 loss along with other factors & though I wish they had won, El Salvadore was the better team.

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 12:32 p.m.
    No debate on that, Kerry, both deliveries were outstanding, as was Adu's long ball that Boyd mistakenly tried to chest down instead of heading. But when was the last time we had a striker so young who makes so many well-timed runs and finishes chances so coolly? Yes, he has a lot of maturing to do, but selfishness in a striker is not necessarily a bad thing. I like his potential.

  1. Mario Araujo
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 2:01 p.m.
    Corona 9 and Boyd 9 They scored great goals. Both keepers -1 Defense 2 midfield 2 Adu 4 he missed too many opportunities.

  1. Carl Hudson
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 2:04 p.m.
    As I said elsewhere about the USA Olympic team: Why not take the entire University of Akron team, including keepers and coaches, and have THEM be our team? And I am being serious here. I think Akron or UNC or Creighton could beat the "selected" team 3 times in four.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 2:25 p.m.
    The failings in this game were many, starting with our inability to play the ball calmly and confidently out of our own defensive line. The team never moved independently into space allowing our defenders to connect to the mid-field, who could then turn and proceed forward. As a result we saw the continual prope the mid-field line, pass-back, probe the mid-field, lateral ball etc., than the inevitable send it over the top to the a waiting ES defender. Not once did I see us connect the lines, nor take a defender on 1v1 to the point of delivering a dangerous shot, but rather we settled for meager crosses to areas where we were out numbered by defenders. Even on Corona's goal we were out numbered, and you could somewhat consider that to have been a counter-attack.(?) For all the nice words about Boyd, and he did have the outstanding finishes, how do you allow your second touch to get so far away from you on a break-away to the point where a keeper then can decide to come out and fall on the ball, totally relieving the desperation of the defenders of possibly pulling you down for a send-off, or the keeper fouling you in the penalty area for a PK? Secondly, Adu played one of his best games for the US, but he has to start pulling the trigger with his right foot when he clearly has time to put a shot on frame!!!!!! This turning back to the inside to get the ball on his favorite left, throws off everybody elses runs and smells of self-interest. We need those shots taken early, far post, where our runners can pounce either on the end of the shot or on a mis-handled ball off the keeper. As far as the Olympic eliminating ES score, all I can say is it was a tough short-hop shot, but when you watch the replay you see he was wearing cement shoes at that point and never shaded to the near post even though his defender has the inside blocked off from the attacker! No anticipation of where the danger area is likely to be, or where an attacker can possibly get a shot through your defenders will kill you more times than not. Had he shaded, he could of played that ball directly in front of him without major difficulty.

  1. Shaffie Pillay
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.
    This team gave me a flashback to the 80s. No control, no possession. Just running at full speed, out of control & with no ideas. Surely at this time we can find 16 players much better than this. If these are the coaches tactics and game plan then we need someone else at the helm. Disgraceful performance for a US team.

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: March 27, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.
    Not pretty, but most of this is too harsh. They are kids, most with relatively little experience of play at this speed or level of pressure. Lack of presence on the ball reflects this, but how many players does the US have that are any better? Stuart Holden, full stop. Until kids in this country grow up with ball on foot, problem will persist. Some of saddest days in my (pathetic) coaching career was showing up at practice and finding kids, holding ball, sitting waiting for me to arrive to tell them what to do. We have beautiful parks in this country, like golf greens, but when was the last time you say a group of young kids just playing with the ball on one of them on their own -- no adult, no coach. Anywhere else in the world those lovely green spaces would be swarming with kids, any kind of old ball, all sorts of improvised goals.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 30, 2012 at 9:10 a.m.
    Allan, go to Latino community soccer league and tell me what you see there and then tell ne we shouldnt have better socce r players on the usmnt.


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