[USA-GUATEMALA REPORT CARD] Clint Dempsey tied Brian McBride for third on the all-time scoring list with 30 goals as the Americans clinched their Hexagonal berth by beating Guatemala, 3-1.
GRADE/PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
4 TIM HOWARD (Everton/ENG) 83/0.
Rescued one of several bobbles with a nifty kicked clearance, but failed to smother another ball under pressure that he should have handled. Deflected a shot from a sharp angle, stayed on his line and offered no challenge when Carlos Ruiz cut past him to score on a breakaway. He came up grimacing after failing to smother that ball so a minor injury might have contributed to him being a shade off his best.
7 STEVE CHERUNDOLO (Hannover/GER) 87/2.
“The Mayor” is looking like he won’t be easily phased out by 2014, when he turns 35. Note that the ball he played up the wing to Eddie Johnson to set up the second U.S. goal came with his left foot and never wandered too close to the touchline. He also arrowed numerous balls into good spots for Graham Zusi and Herculez Gomez, and overlapped those teammates to serve a few crosses of his own.
6 GEOFF CAMERON (Stoke City/ENG) 10/0.
Lost connections with Carlos Bocanegra on the ball played over the top on which Guatemala scored but otherwise buckled down his area for most of the game. He also exploited a lack of pressure to hit numerous balls into the channel for Gomez and Zusi.
7 CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Racing Santander/SPA) 109/14.
Atoned for confusion on the opposition goal by knifing through the penalty area to steer home a Clint Dempsey flick and tie the game in the 10th minute. Answered a few early challenges from Marco Pappa that helped neutralize the second-half sub, but he and Michael Parkhust had a bit more trouble with fellow sub Minor Lopez, who got between them to fire off a good shot early in the second half.
5 MICHAEL PARKHURST (Nordsjaelland/DEN) 15/0.
Knocked one interception right to an opponent no more than 35 yards from goal, but otherwise handled his marking and tracking duties competently. Ranged up the left side on a few occasions and played a good ball that produced a shot for Eddie Johnson. Needed a few seconds to recover from a fierce collision yet finished the match.
6 DANNY WILLIAMS (Hoffenheim/GER) 10/0.
With the U.S. system and positions more clearly defined on a good playing surface and a predictable opponent, Williams played a smart, assertive game that lifted some of the defensive burden from Michael Bradley but wasn’t too confining. He pushed upfield on a few occasions and belted a long-distance shot that was saved. We’ll need to see more of him fending off better opponents in the Hexagonal but he’s already proven to be less error-prone than Jermaine Jones.
7 MICHAEL BRADLEY (Roma/ITA) 66/9.
No matter how much of the offensive load he shoulders in a particular game he is clearly one of the team’s leaders. A giveaway launched Guatemala’s scoring attack but that occurred 70 yards from goal and involved much more serious errors. His probing runs and touches through the middle and accurate balls sprayed out wide forced Guatemala back on its heels often. His chip that Dempsey touched in probably was going just wide yet didn’t detract from the poise and vision he showed during the buildup. He got away with one risky dribble on the edge of the defensive third; it’s not wise to repeat that move in the Hexagonal without cover.
6 GRAHAM ZUSI (Sporting Kansas City) 6/1.
He served up the corner kick from which the Americans tied the game and hit several other good balls to threaten. Worked the right side relentlessly and paid the price by running out of gas and coming off in the 78th minute. Ability to cross accurately with either foot and at varying distances during the run of play is going to be an important weapon down the road.
8 CLINT DEMPSEY (Tottenham/ENG) 91/30.
A great night on the scoresheet, with an assist from his glancing header off a corner kick, and a pair of tap-ins from excellent balls by Eddie Johnson and Bradley. Two dives, the second of which earned him a late caution, took a bit of luster off a virtuoso performance. Ranged wide to occasionally use the wings and also tucked underneath the forward(s) to unhinge the opposition.
7 EDDIE JOHNSON (FC Seattle Sounders) 44/14.
Floated wide to both wings and occasionally popped up in the center to completely flummox the Guatemalan defense. His right-side run and low ball to set up Dempsey’s first goal was very reminiscent of his play during the qualifying rounds for the 2006 World Cup, and he also used the left flank effectively to run into spaces for shots and crosses.
7 HERCULEZ GOMEZ (Santos Laguna/MEX) 17/5.
He turned in one of his best U.S. performances despite not scoring. He tormented Guatemala with runs and dribbles, mostly through the right channel, and played a part in the buildup to both of Dempsey’s goals with a dummy run and vital linking touch. He also got his head to a cross and knocked a ball across goal that no teammate could reach.
5 SACHA KLJESTAN (Anderlecht/BEL) 36/4.
Laid off a smart ball that Williams lashed wide, and neatly linked up with teammates to stretch Guatemala and burn clock.
NR MAURICE EDU (Stoke City/ENG) 41/1.
Held his ground defensively and kept the ball moving to wear down the opponents.
NR JOE CORONA (Club Tijuana/MEX) 3/0.
Late cameo appearance included a couple of battles to keep the ball near the corner.