By Ridge Mahoney
A counterattack goal set up by Landon Donovan's crossfield pass enabled Brek Shea to score his first international goal in a 1-0 defeat of Costa Rica Tuesday in the Gold Cup finale for both teams.
Sean Johnson’s save of a Carlos Johnson header led to the counterattack in the 82nd minute. Shea, one of three substitutes used by Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, raced up field to put away Donovan’s pass.
Chris Wondolowski’s run of scoring in consecutive games ended at three. He fired over the crossbar on a good feed from Alejandro Bedoya with his best chance of the match.
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
6 Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire) 4/0. A solid game highlighted by his spectacular reflex save that tipped Carlos Johnson’s header onto the crossbar. He smothered a few other easy shots comfortably, and usually positioned himself well. Shanked one clearance into the stands off his left foot but on a couple of other occasions slung the ball out wide accurately.
5 Michael Parkhurst (FC Augsburg/GER) 14/0. Hard work offensively kept Costa Rica scrambling to suppress his pushes forward. Tested the opposition with a few crosses though seldom found space to reach the byline. Won a lot of battles defensively but late reactions to a few passing sequences gave the opposition too much space and time.
6 Michael Orozco (Puebla/MEX) 8/2. A smart, sound job defensively helped the Americans contain Costa Rica for much of the match. His positioning and quick reactions neutralized the opponent’s attempts to service a lone striker deployed in a rigid 5-4-1 formation. He is rather quietly moving up the depth chart at centerback.
7 Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes) 38/4. He marshaled the defense well, instructing his back-line mates when to step up or deciding if he or Orozco should drop. Served several good balls out of the back out wide for Jose Torres or DaMarcus Beasley and also connected up the middle a few times. Headed back a corner kick that produced a shot on goal and denied Costa Rica by clearing numerous crosses.
6 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX) 106/17. Active and aggressive offensively in the first half despite getting cracked on the back of the head by an opponent’s knee. Slid centrally to snuff out a couple of Costa Rican counters, was a bit too casual with a headed clearance that dropped right to an opponent but nothing came of it. Also lost a ball to Rodney Wallace that could have meant trouble.
5 Alejandro Bedoya (Helsingborg/SWE) 17/1. He should have done better on a wide-open header from a corner kick that he glanced well wide of the far post, but he shared in some good combination play on the right side with Parkhurst and other teammates. Set up Chris Wondolowski with a ball cut back from the end line yet wasn’t nearly as incisive with several other serves, and vanished at times when Costa Rica attacked up his side.
6 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR) 7/1. Covered a lot of ground front to back and side to side, connecting the back line to the attacking corps. He pushed good passes up the right flank to Bedoya and Parkhurst, and also found seams to serve Donovan and Wondolowski. His defensive work was pretty solid; he dug into a lot of tackles and won most of them, though he and Holden sometimes couldn’t stem Costa Rica’s passes through the middle.
4 Stuart Holden (Bolton/ENG) 21/3. He seldom got into the attacking flow effectively, though his workrate and determination got him through the 90 minutes, which is an accomplishment in itself. A rough touch on a nice through ball deprived the U.S. of an opportunity, and a few times he was in position to win a ball or intercept a pass and failed to do so.
6 Jose Torres (UANL/MEX) 24/0. Forced a great save with a curling free kick, and hit several good crosses from different spots on the left flank. Worked hard defensively, too, twice tracking back to win balls near his own goal line. Set plays were usually well-struck. Cut inside to good effect, yet reluctance to use his right foot for a shot or final pass is still an issue.
7 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 148/53. His superb first-time cross-field ball on a U.S. counter produced the winning goal to punctuate a good if unspectacular performance. Drew a lot of attention, and a few uncalled fouls, while probing for a crack in the Costa Rican nine-man defensive shield, and hit a couple of dead balls that weren’t exploited by the tall teammates.
4 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 15/6. Skied a good chance over the bar when Bedoya cut a ball right into his path, attacked the near post on crosses a couple of times without reward. He can’t be faulted for his workrate and cleverness of his runs; his touches needed to be crisper and his reading of situations quicker.
6 Joe Corona (Club Tijuana) 8/0. Ran down a loose ball to hit a great serve up the right wing to Donovan just as a crunching tackle came in.
5 Herculez Gomez (Club Tijuana) 24/7. Scuffed an attempted clearance after Johnson’s save, but then blocked off an opponent so Corona could collect the ball and got upfield trailing Shea in case of a deflection or rebound.
7 Brek Shea (Stoke City/ENG) 20/1. Kept his cool and won the game by cushioning Donovan’s ball and tucking away his shot.
(Ratings: 1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)