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U.S. Report Card: Altidore's goal rewards resilient defensive effort
June 19th, 2013 12:54PM

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TAGS:  african nations cup, americans abroad


By Ridge Mahoney

A patient and confident U.S. performance was rewarded when Jozy Altidore scored in his fourth consecutive game to earn a 1-0 Hexagonal victory over Honduras Tuesday in Sandy, Utah.

Altidore was one of several Americans to receive high marks. Another solid defensive effort earned the U.S. its fourth Hexagonal shutout, and the return of Graham Zusi from suspension helped produce a decent amount of scoring chances and 13 shots, five of which were on target.

Fabian Johnson assisted on the winning goal for the second straight game with a low cross from the left wing that Altidore steered into the net. They had also combined on the first goal in last week’s 2-0 defeat of Panama.

Starters
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
6 TIM HOWARD (Everton/ENG) 90/0. Seldom needed due to another solid defensive display, Howard stood his ground late in the first half to parry Andy Najar’s blast from close range. His command of the penalty area and communication with his defenders are improving with every game and there weren’t any glitches in the few tricky situations that Honduras was able to generate.

6 BRAD EVANS (Seattle Sounders) 12/1. His Seattle teammate Mario Martinez and Najar seemed capable of besting Evans yet seldom were able to use that leverage to create a clear scoring opportunity, and as the game evolved Evans tucked in a little tighter and closed up the spaces. He worked a few good combinations up the right flank and could have scored with a header but headed it straight to keeper Noel Valladares.

6 OMAR GONZALEZ (Los Angeles Galaxy) 7/0. Turnover provided Honduras with a free kick in a dangerous spot when Jermaine Jones had to cover for him and thus committed a foul that earned Jones a card. Made a smart decision to cover the middle and let Howard handle Najar’s shot rather than risk a square ball for a tap-in. Najar evaded a poor challenge from Gonzalez but let the ball roll out for a goal kick.

7 MATT BESLER (Sporting Kansas City) 11/0. Uncharacteristically bad ball allowed Najar his opportunity to rip a shot at Howard, but otherwise Besler delivered another solid performance. His reads and reactions were usually spot on and the U.S. midfield pressure allowed him to play without fear of being beaten over the top. As Honduras tried to rally in the final minutes, he neatly dispossessed Marvin Chavez, then swept away a low cross from Najar.

7 FABIAN JOHNSON (Hoffenheim/GER) 15/0. He got caught a few times playing left mid instead of left back, but for the most part he looked secure. Strong enough to win tackles and fast enough to chase down most opponents, he’s becoming a lock to start somewhere. And he’s turning into Lethal Weapon going forward. A great low cross arrowed straight to Eddie Johnson for a shot that forced a good save, and to set up the winner he raced into the channel to first-time Dempsey’s pass right to Altidore.

5 JERMAINE JONES (Schalke 04/GER) 32/2. Typical of his game was a ball he lost with a careless touch, then won back with a strongman tackle. Some of his passes were incisive, others were aimless. At times he dropped deep to screen the back line, though he also got caught in no-man’s land when he lost track of a runner he should have picked up. He scraped the rebound of a saved shot in the direction of Michael Bradley, who fired it over the crossbar.

7 MICHAEL BRADLEY (Roma/ITA) 79/11. Bradley tried to infuse the game with some fluidity while jamming up the potent Honduran central midfield. He adjusted well to the choppy nature of play by settling the ball when necessary, or playing a first-time ball to accelerate the tempo. His excellent left-footed chip dropped into a good spot, but Dempsey headed it wide. Bradley blasted his one shooting opportunity over the crossbar.

7 GRAHAM ZUSI (Sporting Kansas City) 14/1. He started the match a bit off the pace, perhaps a byproduct of missing the last game while suspended, though his set pieces were consistently good. He found his feet late in the first half and set off on a scything run that required a superb tackle by Jose Velasquez to halt. Only some desperate Honduran defending and Dempsey’s slack finishing deprived him of the assist his service deserved, though his role in the buildup to the U.S. goal was a valuable element.

5 EDDIE JOHNSON (Seattle Sounders) 53/14. He and Zusi swapped sides throughout the match and though active, he lacked sharpness at the critical moments and on a couple of occasions just failed to reach slightly overhit balls into the channels. He forced a good save from Valladares with a first-time finish of a cross from the other Johnson. He didn’t get into many tackles but did keep up his level of effort.

6 CLINT DEMPSEY (Tottenham/ENG) 99/35. He squandered a few great scoring chances on headers that either went wide or right at the keeper. As a provider, however, he delivered. His through ball into the left channel ran for Fabian Johnson to set up the U.S. goal, and he himself nearly sent Altidore into the clear on two occasions only to be denied by an unlucky bounce and heroic defensive effort by Honduras. He wasted a free kick in a good spot by shooting into the wall and was unlucky when his header during a goalmouth scramble hit an opponent’s arm.

7 JOZY ALTIDORE (AZ/NED) 60/17. He kept to his task resolutely despite a few bad hops and narrow misses that deprived him and his teammates of clear shots. A promising one-two with Eddie Johnson fizzled out when he inexplicably lost his balance, but he soldiered on. His link-up and hold-up play were again key elements in the U.S. attacking flow, and his exquisite finish of Fabian Johnson’s cross personified the poise and confidence stemming from his scoring streak.

Substitutes
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
5 GEOFF CAMERON (Stoke City/ENG) 18/0. Stumbled on his first confrontation, then eased into his composed, efficient self.

5 BRAD DAVIS (Houston Dynamo) 11/0. Drew a foul from Velasquez with a brazen dribble and hit a good corner kick to the near post.

NR EDGAR CASTILLO (Tijuana/MEX) 8/0. Replaced Eddie Johnson for the final few minutes.


14 comments
  1. Frank Richarz
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 1:47 p.m.
    can't see how Gonzales gets a 7 rating. He was awful for the majority of the game. Constantly out of position, not marking, and when he went forward he failed to make any impact. He nearly cost the US a goal with a horrible pass. That stuff may fly in the MLS but not any place good. I would rate him a 4.

  1. Jeanine Valadez
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 1:55 p.m.
    We play so much better when Jones is on the bench. Bradley attacks, combinations increase, constructive positive attack occurs, Altidore gets the ball at his feet, defense is more tactical instead of thuggish. Come on.

  1. Albert Harris
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 2:11 p.m.
    I have to agree with Jeanine: Cameron in the middle makes a much stronger partnership with Bradley than Jones does although I see Jones as an option off the bench to close out games. But I think the starting CM duo should be Cameron and Bradley which should be good though the 2018 Cup cycle as an added benefit. Finally, a bit of carping: F. Johnson PASSED the ball to Jozy that resulted in our score. Too often balls are CROSSED aimlessly hoping for the best. What sets Johnson apart as a flank player is his desire to drive the end line and lift up his head and look for an open player rather than just hit it into the box and hope. Would that we had more wide players who did this. If we had, we might actually be able to play a 4-3-3.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 3:31 p.m.
    Agree with everything said above. Gonzalez was bad. Cameron was very good again, yet he gets only a 5?

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 3:41 p.m.
    No arguments with the above. I would love to see Landon Donovan replace Eddie Johnson in the midfield (although Zusi and Fabian Johnson are going to be tough to displace). Otherwise the team is gelling pretty nicely with the top 14-15 players Klinsman is using. The less I see of the likes of Sasha K, Clarence Goodson, Timmy Chandler, etc. the better.

  1. Andrew King
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 3:54 p.m.
    Well you wouldn't have displace Zusi and F Johnson. Simply slot F Johnson at left back instead of Beasley, which sures up the defense a bit more while also providing a better attacking option going forward. Then put Donovan in to replace E Johnson on the left or right. Zusi and Donovan are both capable of playing on either wing

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 3:57 p.m.
    I actually like Beasley more at LB than Fabian. The L side of Beasley in the back with Fabian at L mid is quite dynamic. Beasley's veteran savvy and make-up speed are nice to have out there.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 5:16 p.m.
    Agree with most above, although I wouldn't be so quick to think Donovan is the type of player right now who can just be plugged-in to the left mid and all will be the same or better? Agree with you Scott, actually would like to see Beas and Fabian a couple more times together, in either arrangement. Both have shown the ability to stay wide and drive to the goalline, although it does appear Fabian is physically stronger and doesn't go down as often. I do like Eddie's strength out wide though, and his courage 1v1. He usually has a deft touch and can be dangerous in the air on set plays. Starting to get seriously crowded in the midfield. That's a good thing!

  1. Brent Crossland
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 6:46 p.m.
    I would probably knock every player down a point or two. I was very disappointed in the first half. There is a reason that Klinsman was standing on the touchline waving his arms and shouting "faster, faster" and "forward, go forward"! Too much just passing the ball back & forth in our own half, followed by a long ball that might optimistically be called a 50/50 ball. I agree with the comments above in that things improve rapidly when Bradley, Zusi, Johnson, etc. run at people or make probing passes but I didn't see much of that in the first 45.

  1. Joe Cate
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 9:32 p.m.
    I also agree with most of all the above. I believe the us team was fortunate that Honduras played so poorly, they looked horrible and we played down to their level for most of the game. I thought Gonzales played terribly and was saved by Besler many times. Dempsey did not deserve his rating either, two wide open headers and he shanks them! Thanks to jozy, zusi, and f Johnson.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: June 19, 2013 at 10:58 p.m.
    I love the post game comment from Tim Howard. He POINTEDLY announced that now that all of the hard work for club and country was finished, he would go on a much deserved vacation. Perhaps Cambodia? Maybe all of these post game comments from the US Nats are trying to send a very important message to US Soccer and SUM marketing. Nobody needs added to this team. TEAM over individual. No outsiders need apply.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: June 20, 2013 at 7:30 a.m.
    Again mediocrity returns against a weak opponent. Simple and efficient play is not in this squad's mentality. I agree with B.C., first half was beyond simply a disappointment...if this squad was an Italian representation, half of the players would be gone. As for Lalas et al commentary, DELUSIONAL.

  1. Albert Harris
    commented on: June 20, 2013 at 1:03 p.m.
    Remind me never ever to take a vacation to Cambodia if Bill is around. It really seems to set him off,,,lol

  1. Charles Stamos
    commented on: June 20, 2013 at 6:06 p.m.
    One of three important games done; I'm waiting till Costa Rica and Mexico results are in to say if we have improved to WC ready status. Fairly good result, but need some improvement at all positions except for GK. If we clinch by getting 16 pts, then give Donovan a tryout in the Panama and/or Jamaica games. I like Cameron to start in midfield and Jones to come off the bench with 30 min to play, Jones is a card or PK waiting to happen.


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