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U.S. Player Ratings: Donovan dominates again as USA reaches final
by Ridge Mahoney, July 25th, 2013 2:48PM

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TAGS:  gold cup, men's national team

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By Ridge Mahoney

Two more goals by Landon Donovan, both set up by Alejandro Bedoya, after an opening goal by Eddie Johnson carried the USA past Honduras, 3-1, Wednesday in a Gold Cup semifinal.

Donovan’s two goals tied him with teammate Chris Wondolowski for the tournament lead with five, and he also leads the tournament in assists with seven. Donovan has played a significant part in each of the last nine goals scored by the Americans in this tournament, starting with his crossfield pass to Brek Shea for the only goal in a 1-0 group win over Costa Rica.

Defender Clarence Goodson started the scoring sequences on the first and third goals, which along with another strong defensive display also earned him a high rating.

Starters:
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
6 Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) 11/0. Enjoyed his quietest game of the tournament; wasn’t required to make even one difficult save. He played a competent game nonetheless, plucking the few crosses and through balls that came his way.

5 Michael Parkhurst (FC Augsburg/GER) 16/0. It wasn’t his best night on the ball, he committed a few unforced errors that provided Honduras with possession in the middle third. Defensively he was sound, and by the time Honduras switched Andy Najar to his side of the field, the Americans were in control.

7 Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes) 40/5. Honduras kept him from scoring (he scored his second goal this month in the quarterfinal against El Salvador) yet he exploited the time and space conceded to him and central partner Matt Besler to play balls to Landon Donovan and Alejandro Bedoya that set up the first and third U.S. goals, respectively. Honduras couldn’t beat him in the air, though he could have cleared the free kick that produced its goal if able to untangle himself from his mark in time.

6 Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) 13/0. He kept close tabs on Roger Rojas and Diego Reyes when they ventured into his area and stepped up confidently to pick off passes. Snuffed a close-range Jerry Palacios shot in the final minutes to highlight another very commendable performance against an obviously fatigued opponent.

5 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX) 108/17. Lost a ball and trying to get it back committed the unnecessary foul that gave Honduras the free kick on which it scored. Provided a lot of energy up the left flank and like several teammates took punishing hits the referee seemed to approve of. Got caught ball-watching on one occasion and Najar slipped behind him to earn a corner kick.

7 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 30/1. He wasn’t required to hit the diagonal crosses or switch-of-play balls he’s been supplying during this tournament, so he played a variety of neat, tidy passes while anchoring the center. He and Holden were in sync, sharing the ball-winning duties and balancing each other snugly to close off passing lanes. Palacios shook him off a couple of times but never gained a foothold.

6 Stuart Holden (Bolton/ENG) 22/3. Dug into tackles and played more assertively than in the past two games, tracking back to pick up balls from the back line while also pushing further upfield as the U.S. stitched passes together. Started a sequence through the middle and glided through for the return ball, only to be flattened by Juan Carlos Garcia’s flagrant but apparently not illegally deployed left elbow. Missed the target on his two shots.

7 Alejandro Bedoya (Helsingborg/SWE) 18/1. A pair of assists was just reward for his workrate, touch, and the timing of his runs. He pressed relentlessly up the right side, harassed Honduras when it tried to connect passes, and found a lot of seams on the dribble. He stayed wide much of the time, which opened up space in the middle and also dragged Honduras out of its preferred shape.

6 Jose Torres (Tigres UANL/MEX) 26/0. Helped Beasley contain Najar and seldom ventured deep into the attacking third. He got a bit perturbed at referee Walter Quesada for leniency regarding some rough tackling and that may have impaired his attacking zeal, but he rarely lost possession unless blatantly fouled.

8 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 150/56. If the Hondurans hadn’t already played the USA twice this year without Donovan, you’d be hard-pressed to convince them he’d ever been away. They simply had no answer to his darting runs, brazen touches, and spot-on finishing. He looked menacing nearly every time he penetrated the attacking third and his subtle re-direction of Goodson’s pass to Johnson on the first goal served as a reminder that when on his game, he’s a class above.

7 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) 55/17. Permed hair brings added visibility, good or bad, and Johnson drew looks for the right reasons. He controlled and put away the feed from Donovan efficiently while peeling away from two pursuers, and knocked several high balls into dangerous positions in addition to the flick that Bedoya relayed to Donovan. There’s a maturity to his game that combined with physical prowess gives the squad great value.

Substitutes
4 Brek Shea (Stoke City/ENG) 22/1. Started off badly with a mis-hit pass and seemed a step off the pace.

6 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR) 9/2. Mixed it up robustly to shut down the few flurries Honduras could muster and deserves kudos for his passing.

5 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 16/6. Worked hard to harass the Hondurans down the stretch and battled determinedly through challenges to cut a ball back from the byline.

(Ratings: 1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)


13 comments
  1. Chris St. Hilaire
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 3:44 p.m.
    Shea is a mess. Every single touch was made with a tinge of panic in his eyes.

  1. Gary Levitt
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 4 p.m.
    Shea looks intimidated and needs to use his strength and speed to go direct in 1 v 1 situations. Torres needs to quit the whining and get on with things. It is not going to be any easier for him in Sunday's final or going forward into September qualifiers.

  1. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 5:19 p.m.
    You should start rating the referees, too. I understand the need to include all the CONCACAF federations in tournaments like this, but the performances by the refs in this match some of the worst I've ever witnessed. Center ref: 3; nearside linesman: 4; farside linesman: 6.

  1. Bruce Gowan
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 5:25 p.m.
    I know that this is not the "A" team but that back line scares me. Goodson got a high rating because of his offense but he is the one who missed the mark on the goal that was scored. Look at all of the pointless long kicks he and Bresler sent up field to the other team. Parkhurst came forward but does not have the skills to be effective. Beasley plays frantic and gives up defensive position. I have always wanted Torres to be effective but he makes bad decisions.

  1. Edgar Aldana
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 6:06 p.m.
    I'm not sure we can't do better in the central midfield, you could see that Holden had good intent on the ball but his sharpness is still off and needs more playing time. Kyle Beckerman all though playing much better lacks speed and creativity, IMHO with better center mids, this team could rise to an even higher level. I'm very impressed with the likes of Corona and Bedoya, always wondered why Bedoya had been excluded and not been given a better look earlier on. Corona's creativity is as breath of fresh air. I'm not a fan of the long ball in soccer but it does have its place in the game when used correctly. JK has instilled team cohesiveness and chemistry on top of the never stop attacking style of play. This is a good templet for the US going forward. There is decent talent coming up through the youth ranks, developing those players in a way that fits a consistent style that works, will assure that the US continues successfully evolve its game. From what I have seen of the defense, it seems that we still suffer from the same problems that we have had all though they have improved. We still fail to track players on set plays and we commit silly fouls that cost us goals and is unacceptable against quality teams. I'm not so much looking at what we have as players this World Cup but the next one, it's all dependent on what we're learning about the success we're having right now and how we can improve on it. Oh yeah, still think these player rating are exaggerated and bias but that's just my opinion.

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 6:45 p.m.
    I remember Bedoya playing well in the 2011 Gold Cup. I also don't understand why he fell off the map for so long. Last night he showed again he can play at this level. Corona has showed a real feel for the game. This team is loaded on the right side of midfield. I saw too much long ball last night. It worked out pretty well at times, but it gets to be too predictable. I thought Torres played pretty well. He is beginning to get comfortable taking defenders on with the ball at his feet. Last night he got fouled alot. The referee was out to lunch. He should have shown more cards. How did the Honduran defender get away with the elbow to the face of Holden? I assume the referee and the linesman on that side didn't see it. That was pretty blatant. Donovan look so good, and he brings out the best in Johnson. I see problems with Beasley at left back. I believe Klinsmann is going to have to look at starting Donovan at left midfield and moving Fabian Johnson back to left back. It will be interesting to see what Klinsmann does. How can he leave Donovan off the field the way he has played in this Gold Cup? He has been the major difference in the results this team is experiencing against teams like Costa Rica and Honduras in the Gold Cup as compared to during World Cup qualifying. We are talking 1-0 and 1-0 versus 4-1 and 3-1. Thats the way I see it. It looked like Honduras and Costa Rica basically brought the same teams they had in World Cup Qualifying.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 7:38 p.m.
    "The world turned upside down" -- I am agreeing with RM!!!! Specifically regarding Torres rating. I have been a fan of Torres since he played the first half of a friendly against T & T in Nashville. He was pulled at the half much to my disappointment. On the flight home Mike Sorber satacross the aisle from me and I asked why BB pulled him. Sorber said that he was too small to absorb the physical play!!! For me Torres has been a great passer, creative, technically excellent. My biggest complaint in the past has been that he had a tendency to disappear. Now however I think that JK has gotten him to look for the game instead of just dropping out. Plus I believe that Torres is much happier with JK's style of play. I think that JK uses him like Barca uses Iniesta. Unfortunately he doesn't have Iniesta's ability to take people on which will probably relegate him to the bench in Brazil.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 9:54 p.m.
    LD looked good because he made the right decisions and his teammates were on target, what other point is there, it's mute.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 11:16 p.m.
    James, I've always liked Torres on the ball, but earlier in his career, Sorber's assessment was accurate (not so much size, but players were dispossessing him too easily; whether it's because he's not big/strong enough to hold off the defenders, or the ref's not calling things, or he's just holding the ball too long, it was a problem). He seems to be doing much better now (quicker and more deceptive), so it's good to see him becoming the valuable player he's always had the potential to be. Generally, I think got these ratings about right. I was disappointed JK put Shea in. I thought that even in the Costa Rica game where he scored the winning goal, that was about all he did. I thought JK should have let him go back to Stoke with the confidence that that goal gave him, rather than giving him the opportunity to have another weak game (which, unfortunately, he did). Bedoya strikes me as a solid all-around player (great work rate, good touch), but not a standout in any one area; but he had a great game. His assists were perfectly weighted.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: July 26, 2013 at 10 a.m.
    Kent - while the whole issue of small players being ineffective in a more physical environment is best discussed over a few beers at the corner pub, I will respond anyways. In this case it was a bogus explanation from Sorber. When I watched the game again on replay the announcers even commented on why Torres had been subbed since he had been so effective in the first half. In my opinion that was a very correct assessment. The problem I have with that explanation is that too often it was just a knee-jerk reaction to the general belief that a player needed to be big and athletic. Being knocked off the ball several times is no excuse if the player is otherwise effective and in this particular instance it was totally bogus.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: July 26, 2013 at 11:09 a.m.
    You're only as good as your technical skills and the ability to make things happen; size is an advantage, but skill rules.

  1. James Madison
    commented on: July 26, 2013 at 6:26 p.m.
    Beasley ought to be given credit for taking more of a beating than anyone else on the team and still coming back for more. Johnson got a nice goal, but he attacks better than he passes. RM and everyone who has commented got Shea right. Not to do with player evaluations, but JK should be CONCERNED about Panama, because it does best what USA defends against worst---attacks early and exploit DFKs

  1. Kent James
    commented on: July 26, 2013 at 10:10 p.m.
    James, I remember the game you mentioned, and I agree that Torres should not have been taken off during that game (I thought he had done well). I was speaking in more general terms; early in his career, I thought he lost the ball in midfield more often than he should have (I remember wanting him to do well, but being frustrated when he'd be dispossessed as the team moved forward, leaving us open to the counter, since I thought that was not helping his chances at becoming a regular). He seems to have improved quite a bit in this area, so it doesn't seem like a problem. My point was not that everyone needs to be big and athletic, but rather that if you are a small player, and the ref is letting play get physical, you should not try to hold the ball with strength, you need to use a different strategy (like getting rid of it quickly, or simply dribbling out of trouble instead of trying to physically protect the ball). The point being that if a small player doesn't adapt, taking him off for losing the ball doesn't necessarily mean you're biased against small players (though you might be). But I agree, that in that game, that was not a valid criticism of Torres.


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