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Parkhurst-led defense smothered Venezuela
by Ridge Mahoney, January 22nd, 2012 9:03PM
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[USA-VENEZUELA REPORT CARD] While the U.S. attack was squandering chances, its defense was holding Venezuela to zero shots on goal. Ricardo Clark’s header deep into stoppage time earned the Americans a 1-0 win. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players ...

U.S. Player Ratings
Starters
5 Bill Hamid (D.C. United) 1/0. Showed no signs of nerves while not required to make a save. Distributed the ball well and came off his line smartly late in the first half to punch away a dropping ball.

5 A.J. DeLaGarza (Los Angeles Galaxy) 1/0. Exposed on a couple of occasions, slipped on the ball at midfield but wasn’t punished. Otherwise, defended capably. Came forward in support to hit a couple of decent crosses and stretch Venezuelan back line with occasional runs deep into the attacking half.

6 Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo) 2/0. Excellent ball out of the back triggered counterattack on which Shea fired just wide, and slickly dribbled through midfield to play a ball into space for Pearce. Calmly blunted the efforts of Alejandro Moreno to break through. Twice battled against markers to head wide on corner kicks.

7 Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland/DEN) 10/0. Dropped into a sweeper role to head away numerous balls lobbed hopefully into the U.S. penalty area; on the floor he tackled crisply and decisively. Confident on the ball and equally accurate pinging short balls to feet or playing longer options into space.

4 Heath Pearce (Chivas USA) 34/0. He put in the work without syncing smoothly to the system. Overlapped often to only moderate effect, didn’t make space to deliver effective crosses, lost a few one-v-one duels defenders are supposed to win.

5 Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids) 3/0. Blunted Venezuelan attacks in the primarily holding role and covered lots of ground on the flanks. Not shy of engaging in battles that he usually won. Like many players, seemed unsure if referee was participating in the same game.

6 Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/GER) 15/1. His bold runs and aggressive tackling enabled the Americans to control and penetrate the middle. Split open Venezuela back line with through ball Shea nearly reached and stormed through the middle to set up Bunbury. Corner kick to produce the winning goal and low shot that forced a save were class, finish on Feilhaber feed and yellow-card foul after giveaway weren’t.

4 Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution) 39/2. Played a great ball to Shea with outside of his right foot and used ball cleverly on a few other occasions, including cut-back that Jones shot errantly. Lost balls under pressure and barked at the referee a few too many times, yet absorbed punishing hits including forearm to the back of the head.

5 Brek Shea (FC Dallas) 10/0. Fired a left-footer low just past the far post, nailed a header on frame that forced a good save. Switched sides in first half and produced little on the right. Lacked commitment going one-v-one when he could have crossed or shot. Finally whipped in a great cross in the final seconds to produce decisive corner kick.

4 Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) 1/0. A few wasteful crosses nullified an honest 74 minutes at which point he gave way to Sapong, his club teammate. Nerves and rust obviously affected his touch and judgment, his movement and ideas were OK. Nice free kick set up Shea with a good chance, blasted shot wide with his last significant touch.

4 Teal Bunbury (Sporting KC) 3/1. Curled a left-footed shot just over the crossbar, won the free kick that produced Shea’s header, played one-two with Jones on counter that Zusi squandered with terrible cross, nicked another ball that Feilhaber was tripped trying to reach -- all in the first half. He also provided vital touch and near-post run in buildup to Jones’ first-time miss. Wayward shot from top of the penalty area and low shot into side netting typified the flaccid U.S. finishing.

Substitutes

6 Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER) 33/3. Energetic work as a 62nd minute sub earned reward with headed stoppage-time goal.

6 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 6/0. Hard-hit volley and sharp header forced good saves, clever pass set up opportunity that Bunbury squandered.

5 Zach Loyd (FC Dallas) 2/0. Tackled aggressively and got into the attack as late sub. Served up cross that Wondo nearly put away.

5 C.J. Sapong (Sporting KC) 1/0. Tormented Venezuela by aggressively attacking balls in the air twice in stoppage time.

NR Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders) 5/0. Phoenix native got the final minutes in front of hometown crowd.

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



1 comment
  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: January 25, 2012 at 8:54 p.m.
    Sorry Ridge but you obviously watched a different midfield than I did. Feilhaber a "4" ?? And Clark a "6" !! Feilhaber had numerous great passes and held the ball well also worked out of pressure beautifully.. Yeah,we all know that you're just waiting until M Bradley can get back in. Bradley is a great defensive mid but will never be a creator.

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