U.S. Report Card
By Ridge Mahoney
A late defensive breakdown caught centerbacks Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron napping and deprived the Americans of snagging a point. But they weren't the worst performers in the USA's 2-1 loss to Honduras in their Hexagonal opener. That honor fell to their German-American partners on the backline, Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson.
U.S. PLAYER RATINGS
GRADE NAME (CLUB) GP/G
6 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 85/0. A superb punch save of Mario Martinez’s rising blast temporarily kept Honduras scoreless and with a few other saves he gave the Americans a chance of stealing a point. He came off his line aggressively on the second Honduran goal and did his job by forcing a pass that his defenders failed to deal with.
3 Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg/GER) 10/0. His much-awaited competitive debut didn’t go so well. He lost a duel on a shanked clearance to give Honduras a corner kick from which it scored the tying goal, and the times were many when Carlo Costly or another attacker got space behind him. He slid inside to protect the back post on occasion but never
4 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG) 12/0. It wasn’t always clear if he or central partner Omar Gonzalez had their roles and assignments defined, and though he dug into tackles and stepped into midfield to intercept through balls there were far too many shaky moments. Whether by confusion or fatigue he couldn’t deal with the through ball that Oscar Boniek Garcia slid across the goalmouth for the winner.
4 Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy) 4/0. Fell victim to the defender’s curse; made some good plays while obviously laboring to handle the intensity and pace of a road Hexagonal match, and fell asleep at a critical moment when a sharp reaction would have cleared a square ball that produced the winning goal. He nearly rescued a tie with the last touch of the match but his header from a corner kick sailed over the bar.
3 Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER) 11/0. He wasn’t the only guilty party but Martinez, Garcia, et al, ran rampant into his zone to whip in crosses or dart to the byline. His midfield partner on the flank changed several times, which sapped his game of continuity. In the second half he pushed up field to play a ball to Clint Dempsey in a good spot but never took advantage of space to lob balls into the box.
4 Danny Williams (Hoffenheim/GER) 12/0. He did his job with some good screening in front of the back line and scraped loose a couple of balls in threatening situations but failed to hold balls or play short passes to give the U.S. some rhythm. He seemed to lose his legs early and couldn’t find a way to subdue Honduran catalyst Roger Espinoza.
5 Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/GER) 27/2. He clipped a great ball over the Honduran back line that Dempsey volleyed home for one of the nicest goals of the Jurgen Klinsmann era. Another good ball freed Eddie Johnson, with whom he switched slots at times, on the left side. He took over duties for many of the set plays, which were hit and miss. He didn’t get his customary caution with a wild tackle or emotional outburst, but a few of his giveaways were glaring.
5 Michael Bradley (Roma/ITA) 73/11. Single-handedly drove the U.S. attack for much of the game, and played numerous good balls forward and out wide. He passed up a good shooting chance, took one long dribbler that was easily saved, and was unlucky on another occasion when his hard, low shot was deflected for a corner. Tasked with directing the attack he often dropped deep in search of the ball. He hit a couple of very poor set pieces. His atypical fluffed clearance led to Honduras’ equalizer and he didn’t react to the deflected cross that was spectacularly biked into the net.
5 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) 45/15. Started the match at left mid and moved to forward at halftime; he provided a great cross that Jozy Altidore volleyed narrowly over the bar, and also set up a good chance for Dempsey. The move up top didn’t stretch the Honduran defenders and though he ran at them he didn’t quite have the zip to burst clear. A crashing run on a corner kick yielded a strong header that cleared the bar.
6 Clint Dempsey (Tottenham/ENG) 92/31. His superb volleyed goal gave the Americans a 1-0 lead they could only hold for a few minutes. As personnel and formations changed, he shifted from a central role to one out wide, and then moved back into the middle. He dragged defenders into many areas but after scoring couldn’t find another good opportunity, and lost a chance when dispossessed at the edge of the box when a cleaner touch would have set up a shot. He seldom had a crossing option when he gained possession out wide.
4 Jozy Altidore (AZ/NED) 53/13. A dearth of service left him frustrated and exhausted, since there wasn’t much support for his hold-up play and runs into the attacking third. He also failed to turn with the ball at his feet, and expected a foul once when knocked down and got called for handball instead. His short, smart pass to Jones led to the goal. He gave a great effort to reach Johnson’s cross and under very tight pressure volleyed an awkward ball just over the bar.
4 Maurice Edu (Bursaspor/TUR) 43/1. One of two subs just before the hour mark, he spoiled an otherwise encouraging performance by failing to challenge Maynor Figueroa or block his pass in the build up to the winning goal.
4 Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/BEL) 39/4. He started off adequately after replacing Eddie Johnson, but he then lost possession near the corner when well-placed to cross and followed up with a badly hit serve right to the opposing keeper.
4 Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) 8/1. His nerves may have betrayed him; though he brought energy, his touch was off, and his mistrap and subsequent handball snuffed a promising U.S. attack.