U.S. Report Card
By Ridge Mahoney
The Americans did just enough to fend off a sputtering Mexico attack to earn a 0-0 tie Tuesday night, just the second time a USA team has emerged from a competitive match at Azteca Stadium with a point.
A defensive posture prevailed -- Mexico took 19 shots to just one for the USA -- and on another night, a rash of turnovers and/or good balls played toJavier “Chicharito” Hernandez might have produced Mexican goals. But defender Omar Gonzalez marshaled a resilient effort that blunted its border rival’s efforts to get its first victory of this Hexagonal.
That the Americans were missing several starters is sure to grate on Mexican fans, who for the second straight home game watched their team fail to score in the imposing Azteca.
USA PLAYER RATINGS
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
7 BRAD GUZAN (Aston Villa/ENG) 22/0.Shrewd decisions on when to challenge for balls and when to stay on his line stabilized the back line. Seldom called upon for most of match, he reacted quickly to kick clear a through ball outside the penalty area, and in the final seconds got down low to parry a skipping shot from distance. If there were any questions about whether he could carry over his sharp Aston Villa form to the national team, he answered them.
5 GEOFF CAMERON (Stoke City/ENG) 14/0.Tested often by Andres Guardado and Jorge Torres Nilo on the dribble, and while far from perfect, seldom left yards of space in his wake to permit a shot or uncontested cross. Still he was off the pace more often than is prudent, and hit balls wildly when there was time to look up and place the ball instead. On the good side he battled hard and closed off space towards the middle to force poor shots or stubbed passes.
8 OMAR GONZALEZ (Los Angeles Galaxy) 6/0.Perfectly timed tackle that thwarted Torres Nilo on the move in the penalty area typified his excellent performance. He usually got to balls before their intended targets on the ground and in the air, and if he didn’t, he took a big enough piece of the attacker to defuse the chance. A first half of hasty clearances gave way to more composed balls out of the back. The synchronization between he and Besler enabled them to easily thwart Javier Hernandez on a long ball down the middle, though they were fortunate when Chicharito got free but headed a Torres Nilo cross over the bar from close range.
7 MATT BESLER (Sporting Kansas City) 2/0. Took an early caution with a tactical foul yet tackled and won balls in the air confidently. Cut out an amazing number of through balls and angled passes off the feet of Giovanni dos Santos and Javier Aquino, and confidently cleared most of the high balls launched in his direction. The absence of a true second forward to partner Chicharito eased his task, yet he timed his interventions impeccably to repel Mexico’s dinking passes and darting runs as they edged into the penalty area.
5 DAMARCUS BEASLEY (Puebla/MEX) 99/17.Survived a couple of very shaky moments early in the match when he gave away a free kick and was cautioned and then let an easy trap escape him for a corner. Burned by Aquino and Co. a few times yet also broke up many combinations and fought through pain and fatigue to finish the match. Important blocks at the back post aided the second straight U.S. shutout.
5 MAURICE EDU (Bursaspor/TUR) 45/1.Played adequately for much of the match but two errors could have been critical. He lost the mark on Chicharito on a late corner kick that the Mexican striker flailed over the bar from point-blank range and escaped giving away a penalty kick despite crunching Aquino from behind as he wound up to shoot. There were periods when none of the U.S. players seemed capable of completing a significant pass yet he racked up some unforced errors.
6 MICHAEL BRADLEY (Roma/ITA) 75/11.Started and finished the match well, but nearly caused major problems with a couple of hiccups midway through the first half. Came into the match more in the second half and escaped pressure often to find teammates with passes and maintain possession. Worked a nice combination with Altidore and Dempsey but couldn’t pull the trigger in time. Shove on Chicharito was greatly embellished by an expert at theatrical dives but it wasn’t the smartest thing to do.
5 GRAHAM ZUSI (Sporting Kansas City) 10/1.Showed polish and confidence in the attacking third and played clever touches on several sequences, though again his crossing lacked menace. His defensive contributions were vital. He tracked back to topple Giovanni Dos Santos with a sharp tackle at a critical moment, and got his head to a dangerous back-post cross. Throughout the match he helped shield Cameron from the runs of Guardado and Torres Nilo.
4 HERCULEZ GOMEZ (Santos/MEX) 21/5. Started the match well while focusing mainly on defense, but faded in the second half and came off in the 71st minute. He struggled to connect with his teammates in the middle and attacking thirds, as his timing and touch seemed a bit off, as were his set plays The effort, as always, was there but Gomez may have been drained by his efforts in the snow Friday.
5 CLINT DEMPSEY (Tottenham/ENG) 94/32. Menaced the Mexican goal only
rarely, but dropped deep to find the ball and initiate passing sequences. Took a crack at goal from about 25 yards that went wide, and worked a few combinations in the attacking third that petered out. He once turned and took the ball towards goal only to encounter four opponents with no teammates in support. As the second half unfolded, his touches and runs forced the Mexicans to chase.
4 JOZY ALTIDORE (AZ/NED) 55/13. Held and relayed the ball when he got it, which was rarely since few of his teammates seemed capable of finding him with a pass. He took a pretty hard hit from Diego Reyes late in the first half that might have contributed to his departure in the 55th minute. The Mexican defenders were unable to win head duels or strip him of the ball but the Americans never got it to him within shooting range.
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
3 EDDIE JOHNSON (Seattle Sounders) 48/14. It’s hard to believe he was on the field for nearly 40 minutes, including stoppage time. He did almost nothing.
4 BRAD DAVIS (Houston Dynamo) 7/0. Stoppage-time foul -- and yellow card -- for kicking Guardado’s leg in free-kick range of the American goal was inexcusable.
NR BREK SHEA (Stoke City/ENG) 16/0.Replaced Zusi in 82nd minute.
(1=low; 5-average; 10=high.)</span