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Dempsey deuce powers USA past Guatemala
by Ridge Mahoney, October 17th, 2012 2:26AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, world cup 2014

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[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.

Starters
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.

Substitutes
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.



19 comments
  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 9:05 a.m.
    You should have put in your Herculez Gomez summary. "Ran down a ball that was going out for a goal kick to get the corner kick that led to the first goal." Twellman commented on it at the time as a great bit of work. Lazy Altidore would not have done that bit of work for the team and thus the tying goal would have had to wait. Great piece on Gomez before the game. His attitude is that if someone wants his spot on the team they're going to have to rip it away from him. I don't see Lazy ripping anything from anyone, it would take too much effort.

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.
    Next topic, Howard. Am I the only one who thinks that Tim Howard is falling a bit. I just don't see the spectacular keeper that everyone raves about. He makes mistakes, and they lead to goals. He should have came out for the ball that Ruiz scored on, he had the time to get to it. His "great save" last night came on a ball he muffed and had to reflex kick away to keep it from being pounced on by a Guatemalan. The goal he gave up in Guatemala, Pappa's free kick, he never budged because he put up a 9-man wall on that side and felt he didn't need to worry about his left. If anything, he could have covered the left more himself and dared Pappa to go to his right. Since he's a lefty, the ball would have curled back towards Howard and made it easier to cover. Also, Howard rarely takes command on corner kicks forcing his defenders to make the plays rather than going for the ball himself. I know it's blasphemy but I'm losing my confidence in the keeper.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 10:25 a.m.
    While Lalas described Bradley's play as fantastic and great...solid would be appropriate.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 10:27 a.m.
    This was a great overall team performance and a much needed confidence builder.Now we have until Feb. to sort some things and get things better for the next round.We'll need to be if we expect to get through to the WC.

  1. charles davenport
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 10:35 a.m.
    RE: tim Howard: How's his current play for his club?

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 11:53 a.m.
    Has anyone played a more solid game than Dempsey did last night in this cycle? I don't think we've seen that type of command performance in a looooooooooooooooooooong time.

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 12:04 p.m.
    I have commented for a long time that Howard, long term , is a liability because he is, honestly, below average on outside shots and free kicks. Sure he is great point blank, but that's not something other teams can try to exploit. If other parts of his game are declining, JK needs to vet alternatives, fast. Dolo was great. But he's 33 Risk of injury is high. Parkhurst and younger guys need friendly minutes at RB in the next month Finally, Boca needs a seat on the bench. Now. He is nothing more than veteran locker room leadership and team chemistry bonder right now. It was not the goal gaffe and his lack of pace. It's his routine decision making when passing the ball . He's trying to play on the ground the way JK wants, but he simply lacks the skill set to execute at the level needed.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 12:25 p.m.
    Just what is this fascination about Bradley? Yes, he played fairly well, but he had his moments, still I'd like to know why SA's writers think he's the next best thing to happen to the USMNT! But like I said the other day, SI SE PUEDE, or in the past tense SI SE PUDO! BRAVO!!! Now on to the next tougher round and let's hope that Omar Gonzalez is brought into the team!!!

  1. Bret Newman
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 3:25 p.m.
    Ric, the Italians think he's pretty good too, and Lalas thought he was the best player on the pitch. I think they know more than you about soccer.

  1. Alex G. Sicre
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 3:27 p.m.
    C'mon Rick, Bradleys' doin it. I have also been waiting for Omar to get his shot. C'mon Klinsi, give him a break.

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 3:35 p.m.
    Re: Charles Davenport - I don't think he's had a clean sheet in the prem in the last several weeks.

  1. Raveen Rama
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 5:48 p.m.
    I had been a great fan of Howard's earlier, but since the last two years or so, I have felt that Brad Guzan was a better keeper. There was no need for him to go to the ground and become helpless as the goal was scored. I think Bocanegra still has it and should be in the team, and I have known for a long time that Bradley was great even when some of you guys were clamoring for his scalp. But yesterday was not his best game. In his position he should be creating plays not just doing tap passes to the side or back. He should see the whole field, switch play, find others in the space, and so on. On the counter attack he slowed the progress and let the defense get back instead of taking advantage of the numbers. Well, that was one weakness I saw in our team yesterday - not taking advantage of the counter attack opportunities on several occasions. Perhaps that was one of the strategies.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 7:10 p.m.
    Bret, u believe what Lalas says? He's on TV promoting the USMNT; was Bradley really fantastic? I ask anyone on this blogg to name a 'fantastic' player on the USMNT.Solid, yes, but FANTASTIC?

  1. David Parsons
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 7:54 p.m.
    I'm sorry guys, but Bocanegra was a nightmare. 7 rating is way too high for a guy who was beaten for pace often, and generally resorted to long balls when under pressure. Scotland has done him no favors.

  1. Kevin Leahy
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 8:43 p.m.
    Bocangra & Bradley were more like a 5 or a 4. Bradley belongs on this team and is very important player but, he was not as strong as he is capable of, last night. Bocangra is just too slow for this level anymore. A player of his experience should never be exposed like he was four minutes into the game. Jermaine Jones was not missed!

  1. Kevin Leahy
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 8:47 p.m.
    Alexi Lalas as an analyst is a joke. His record as a GM speakes for itself.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: October 17, 2012 at 11:33 p.m.
    Lalas may be a joke as an analyst and a GM, but how many here have played in Serie A?

  1. Paul Roby
    commented on: October 18, 2012 at 9:45 a.m.
    Lalas was signed in Italy for his head. Studies have shown that players famous for heading suffer in IQ tests. Need I say more?

  1. Kenneth Barr
    commented on: October 18, 2012 at 10:48 a.m.
    Let's start with Gomez. HIs never say die attitude turned a sure goal kick into the corner kick that led to the first goal. Add that to his involvement in the other two and a 7 is positively penurious. He gets an 8.5 from me. Michael Bradley bossed the midfield in a manner rarely seen by a US Mens' ploayer. He gets a 9 as does the two goal one assist performance by Clint Dempsey. he would have had a 9.5 but that silly yellow card for diving cost him. Eddie Johnson gave us the best wing play since the days of Cobi Jones. He tormented the Guate's back four all night long. He gets an 8. Finally, Juegren Klinsmann gets a 10 for putting out a side that didn't panic when it went down one and proceded to dominate. Yes, there are problems in the back right now but he'll get that right by the time the Hex rolls around. This performance was the best by the US Men in a very long time. It even rivalled some of the better US Women performances.


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