[GUATEMALA-USA REPORT CARD]In a typically roller-coast Concacaf World Cup qualifier, the luck ran hot and cold for the Americans, who also didn’t sustain their good periods of play long enough to feel they controlled the match.
The Americans lost a great scoring chance when a foul in the penalty arc on Clint Dempseywas whistled just as the ball broke loose for Jozy Altidore, but Altidore had looked so hesitant after replacing Herculez Gomez there’s no guarantee he would have got off a shot, much less scored. The back line was rejiggered when Geoff Cameron replaced Clarence Goodson, who’d been cautioned, but while Cameron appeared to handle the transition well, there were glitches elsewhere.
Miscommunication with the centerbacks and/or midfielders contributed to breakdowns that a better team would have punished more severely. Marvin Avila burned the back line a few times, MLS veteran Carlos Ruizcaused his usual array of problems by battling and flopping, and the halftime insertion of Chicago Fire midfielder Marco Pappa -- one of three subs at the interval -- turned the momentum in Guatemala’s favor, though not until the 83rd minute did the equalizer occur.
U.S. Player Ratings
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
5 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 77/0.
A strong save denied Carlos Figueroa from a sharp angle late in the first half and he also got his leg to a point-blank attempt by Luis Rodriguez before Carlos Ruiz skied the rebound. He didn’t get off his feet on Marco Pappa’s equalizing free kick; experienced goalkeepers should not be screened on set plays, if that’s what happened.
5 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/GER) 83/2.
He swung in a few good crosses but also committed several unforced errors that forced scrambling adjustments by the USA. A pair of nicely clipped balls behind the Guatemalan defense were annulled by offside calls. He lost a pair of one-v-one duels near the corner from which threatening passes were driven into the goalmouth.
6 Clarence Goodson (Broendby/DEN) 30/3.
Looked solid enough but took a caution midway through the first half, which prompted his departure at halftime. He plowed through the flopping and jabbering of Ruiz to defuse attacks, and while his strength in the air is obvious, he’s also sharpening his game on the floor.
6 Carlos Bocanegra (Glasgow Rangers/SCO) 105/13.
The captain marshaled the back line confidently and also stepped up on occasion to deliver crunching tackles his midfield mates seemed reluctant to deliver. He was among the strongest finishers of a team that looked very leggy as the second half wore on and for most the match neutralized whomever he came up against. He got a bit lucky when he kicked a clearance into his hand and the referee rightly ruled no intent.
5 Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER) 6/0.
An incredibly mixed game saw Johnson cleaned three times by attackers sneaking behind him and at the other end, several threatening runs up the flank or into the channel. Two of the latter provided excellent chances for Dempsey, one of which he turned into the U.S. goal. However, his rough foul on Ruiz gave away the tying free kick.
6 Jermaine Jones (Schalke/GER) 20/2.
Ostensibly the right midfielder in a five-man alignment, he ranged all over the field to support teammates, serve as a counterbalance to Dempsey, and shut down opponents. His balls into the final third weren’t always accurate but he was active offensively. Like several teammates he didn’t cope well with the insertions of Pappa and Manuel Leon but he also didn’t get cautioned, whereas two opponents did when they challenged him.
4 Maurice Edu (Rangers/SCO) 36/1.
He took rugged hits from late tackles and clumsy challenges, and while he connected with a few passes he also played some very aimless balls. His missed tackle allowed Ruiz a shot at goal from medium range, and he seemed completely lost at times as Guatemala pushed balls past him.
7 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 86/27.
He showed his class with a superb goal that he set up with two touches that each slipped him past a defender, and he proved his ruggedness by climbing off the floor after being decked several times. He used the length and breadth of the field to stretch and shred Guatemala. On two occasions, his shots were blocked when a first-time hit might have got through.
5 Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona/ITA) 68/10.
He played a great ball into the penalty area that Altidore squandered and contributed to other promising attacking sequences that petered out. A dipping shot from about 25 yards required a decent save from Ricardo Jerez. Though his defensive work lacked consistency, he snuffed out several threatening situations. On a corner kick, he failed to reach a ball that Erwin Morales headed just over the bar, and he was absurdly cautioned while waiting to take a free kick.
4 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 142/49.
Touched the ball and moved efficiently yet wasn’t all that committed to going past opponents. He left a few set plays short of the danger area. Occasionally got down the left side to serve balls that the Guatemalans were able to repel.
4 Herculez Gomez (Santos/MEX) 12/4.
Worked relentlessly without much result but drove on heroically though his pace and touch just weren’t there. Blasted a free kick from midfield so far over the bar even his teammates looked puzzled. He leaves for his summer vacation holding, if somewhat tenuously, the role as top dog up front.
6 Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo) 5/0.
As a halftime sub for the cautioned Goodson, he won a lot of balls in the air and hit some very sharp passes. His composure under emergency conditions might have been the most impressive facet of his play.
4 Jozy Altidore (AZ/NED) 48/13.
Except for slipping a ball to Dempsey, who relayed it back to him under a crunching tackle that yielded a free kick, Altidore did plenty to justify not starting.
NR Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 21/1.
Cameo in stoppage time.