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Rating the best Americans in 2012
by Ridge Mahoney, June 5th, 2012 1:37AM

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TAGS:  men's national team

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The friendlies are done, it’s time to get real.

Though nothing prevents players from being added for the start of qualifying play against Antigua & Barbuda on Friday, here’s a capsule look at those expected to fill out the lineup sheets for that game and a match against Guatemala on June 12. A total of 41 players have worn the USA jersey this year and those excluded from the current squad, as well as a few others, could be recalled for the later stages of the semifinal round from which two teams advance to the Hexagonal.

This compilation includes all 23 players named by U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the three friendlies and two Concacaf World Cup qualifiers. Data is taken from the six games played so far this year: against Venezuela and Panama in January, at Italy in late February, and in the past week and a half against Scotland, Brazil and Canada.

Though midfielder Michael Bradley tops the rankings, several other players -- Fabian Johnson, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Landon Donovan, Clarence Goodson, Herculez Gomez -- have earned marks that suggest they will be especially prominent as the serious business of qualification for the 2014 World Cup gets underway.

In parentheses are the average ratings compiled by Soccer America for games played in 2012:

GOALKEEPERS
Brad Guzan (5.0). Only one sub appearance, against Scotland, may not be sufficient preparation if Howard needs to be replaced.

Tim Howard (5.8). Solid in all four starts and especially impressive in 1-0 defeat of Italy.

Nick Rimando (7.0). Got his only chance in Panama City and posted a zero with some spectacular saves.

DEFENDERS
Carlos Bocanegra (5.5). The captain performed admirably against Italy but hasn’t been as dominant in the last three games.

Geoff Cameron (5.0). Talent on the ball is offset by errors in learning the centerback position. Own goal against Scotland could have been avoided by better marking.

Edgar Castillo (4.5). Thrust into a start at left back against Canada. His ball skills impressed but his defensive play didn’t. As a left mid in the Scotland game he looked okay.

Steve Cherundolo (5.2). Quieter going forward than in past years; is that a function of age (33) or different responsibilities?

Clarence Goodson (6.0). Handled his two starts against Italy and Canada very well, nearly won the latter game with a sharp header that forced an excellent save.

Fabian Johnson (6.3). The revelation so far of 2012 in three starts, his late scratch from the Canada game renewed concerns about depth at left back.

Oguchi Onyewu (4.3). Rough outing against Brazil taints adequate showings as a sub versus Scotland and Canada.

Michael Parkhurst (5.7). Played very well at centerback in early-season starts (Venezuela, Panama), hasn’t been as confident at right back as sub (Brazil, Canada).

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS
Kyle Beckerman (5.0). Saw a lot of time last year; so far in 2012 has been a sub against Scotland and Brazil.

Michael Bradley (7.2). Dominant showings against Italy and Scotland have been followed by solid jobs in Brazil and Canada matches.

Maurice Edu (5.5). He’s been handed various midfield roles in three starts and one appearance as a sub; he’s obviously more destroyer than creator. Gave his best performance (7.0) in the defeat of Italy.

Jermaine Jones (5.8). A force anywhere on the field, is the only U.S. player to start five of six games this year (didn’t play against Italy).

OUTSIDE MIDFIELDERS
Joe Corona (5.0). Looked good as a sub against the Scots in his national team debut.

Clint Dempsey (6.3). His might be the most impressive resume of 2012; superb against Italy and more than adequate in the last two games despite recovering from a groin strain.

Landon Donovan (6.3). Wowed the world as he flayed Scotland, competent but nothing special in the Brazil and Canada matches.

Jose Torres (5.3). Has adapted to a wide left position in the past three games, and certainly has upside in skill and savvy. Will he dislodge Brek Shea long-term?

FORWARDS
Jozy Altidore (5.0). Sub appearance against Canada was his only action since a solid match against Italy.

Terrence Boyd (5.0). Raw but shows great potential as a rugged alternative to Altidore.

Herculez Gomez (6.0). His drive, touch and nose for goal will be an asset in the qualifiers, whether he plays alone up front or partnered. 

Chris Wondolowski (5.5). Has yet to be handed a chance to match his good showings in the first two games of the year.



11 comments
  1. David Sirias
    commented on: June 5, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.
    You assume Brek Shea is someone to be dislodged. That experiment is over. Brek sees no more call ups until he asks to leave to a stronger team. I didn't say another league. There are a few coaches in MLS that could help/teach players who are slow of thought-- Kreis, Kinnear etc because of the teams they have assembled. But the reality is that Bret plays on a terrible team and probably needs to go to a better league where his teammates think faster. Until then, why is he even in the conversation? Is Robbie Rogers in thè conversation ? Edgar Castillo is a better winger than Bret right now If he wants a future in thè national team he needs to ask to play left back and switch positions. It's really up to him .

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: June 5, 2012 at 12:49 p.m.
    Bradley gets over 7.2?? How come Ridge isn't questioning his defensive duties in past 3 games? Castillo is best fit right now at that position even though Ridge hates to admit it. Extremely hard to believe this is the best scouted team in USA with no new young real talent for the near future.

  1. Alex Stroessner
    commented on: June 5, 2012 at 1:57 p.m.
    I really have a hard time with these ratings.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: June 5, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.
    Castillo? He scares me as much, if not more, than Bornstein did. I wonder if he ever completed a pass to a teammate.

  1. Mike Gaire
    commented on: June 5, 2012 at 4:02 p.m.
    I think Castillo looks like a good attacking left sided midfield player who should never be asked again to play left back but is worth a start at left mid especially after his last game! I still don't get why the best left back in America, Todd Dunivant, continues to be ignored!!! I think Beckerman deserves more playing time and Jones is a thug and should be dropped! Gooch is nowhere near the player he used to be and I would drop him from the squad for now. Johnson is a good prospect for the future but he is young and inexperienced and cannot even get a first team game in the Bundesliga. Like Castillo he looks good going forward and very suspect defending against a good attacking winger.

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: June 5, 2012 at 4:10 p.m.
    Clearly the ratings are an average of all of their appearances this year. Can't be any more objective than that. It eliminates the great and terrible games guys have and gives and indication of how they should perform over time. Kind of a Moneyball approach to ranking the players, I like it.

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: June 5, 2012 at 4:11 p.m.
    As you can see most of our guys are in the 5 range and that befits us being an average team, in general.

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: June 5, 2012 at 4:15 p.m.
    I think there should be a separate category for those with less than 3 appearances. Rimando's 7 was a one game wonder, for instance. I also think there should be a list of everyone who's been capped this year not just those in the 23-man Qualifier squad. I'd like to see where Timmy Chandler would have ranked as well as Brek Shea.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: June 6, 2012 at 8:32 a.m.
    Oguchi Onyewu is way over rated at 4.3, that mark makes it appear that he did anything useful at all. He put in the worst performance of his entire National Team career against Brazil, and showed he was no longer capable of participating at the international level. When he went in as a sub in the other two games, the entire shape of the team changed into a more defensive posture as players scrambled to cover up his lack of pace and anticipation. True Player Rating = 2.1

  1. Albert Harris
    commented on: June 6, 2012 at 9:58 a.m.
    Fabian Johnson started 26 of the 34 matches Hoffenheim played in the Bundesliga this year. He subbed in 2 others and played 76% of the minutes the club played. Seem like someone who gets a first team start to me. Mr. Gaire is entitled to his own opinion but not his own set of facts.

  1. joe shelby
    commented on: June 6, 2012 at 12:36 p.m.
    Bradley is a waste. He runs around alot and passes to the other team many times. He is not the answer. Onyewu is over rated. Since getting hurt, he has not been the same. Dempsey is the best the US has to offer. In the last game, Donovan was a no show.


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