Gomez and Johnson get high marks despite defeat

[USA-BRAZIL REPORT CARD] A five-game U.S.win streak ended with a 4-1 loss to Brazil, though a late U.S. flurry probably deserved the reward of a second goal. Several players nevertheless came up with solid performances.

5 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 75/0.
Batted down a long-range shot that was hit right at him and covered it on the bounce. Really couldn’t do anything to stop any of the four goals other than perhaps challenge for corner kick that produced number two.

4 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/GER) 81/2.
Burned a few times by Neymar and Co., and was utterly marooned on give-and-go that set up third Brazilian goal. Offered a few good balls going forward and got into a couple of barking matches with opponents.

3 Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon/POR) 64/6.
Struggled through a very rough first half, losing the mark on a corner kick during Brazil’s second goal after being whistled for handling when a shot hit his arm. Banged a header off the crossbar during a late U.S. flurry, then moved too slowly on an offside trap as Brazil scored its fourth.

4 Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers/SCO) 103/12.
Atrocious giveaway in first half put his team in trouble on counterattack that led to first goal. Too often he and Onyewu weren’t in sync, though the caliber of opposition has to be considered. Couldn’t orchestrate the pressing and marking to defuse Brazil’s attacking forays.

7 Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER) 5/0.
Great run and ball from the byline set up Herculez Gomez’s point-blank goal, also shimmied free in the second half to loft a ball Gomez nearly knocked down for Clint Dempsey to score. He may be new to the left-back position for both club and country but he looks the part.

5 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 140/49.
Good touches for the most part and hit a few very dangerous set plays that nearly produced goals. Lost a few one-v-one duels early and didn’t get his aggressive mojo back until the second half. Moved higher upfield to play as a de facto second forward prior to Terence Boyd’s entry. Clever chip set up excellent chance for Gomez.

4 Jermaine Jones (Schalke/GER) 18/2.
Rugged and aggressive as usual, did a fair job of disrupting Brazil’s midfield play but wasn't much of a factor offensively. Took a caution five minutes after Brazil’s third goal and departed in the 71st minute when the U.S. brought on a second forward.

4 Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers/SCO) 34/1.
Very unsure of whether to step or drop when playing the higher point of a three-man midfield but also needed a bit more help by teammates showing for the ball. A step late reacting on several Brazilian passing sequences.

6 Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona/ITA) 66/10.
Amazing, well-timed through ball that split two opponents in lead-up to U.S. goal typified his attacking contributions, and he also nailed a header from a corner kick that forced a good save. Diagonal balls to the flanks produced crossing opportunities.

4 Jose Torres (Pachuca/MEX) 16/0.
Early caution may have taken away some of his confidence. He seemed unsure on both sides of the ball but some of that may have been a result of the early 2-0 deficit that injected an element of urgency in his play.

7 Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/MEX) 10/3.
Crashed into the goalmouth to score a header not as simple as it seemed due to a deflection that caused a last-second change in the ball’s flight. He knocked it in via the forehead, no problem. Worked the lone-forward spaces hard and often, and if not for a poor chest trap on a great chip from Clint Dempsey might have found a better shooting angle to score a second goal.

6 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 83/26.
Set up several opportunities with through balls and chips, nearly scored but couldn’t get to Gomez header before it was cleared.

4 Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland/DEN) 12/0.
Scorched by Neymar a few minutes after replacing Cherundolo, got into the flow in the final minutes.

5 Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund II/GER) 3/0.
Extremely unlucky not to score with follow-up effort that forced remarkable block save by keeper.

NR Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 20/1.
Shored up central midfield for the final 10 minutes and got forward to apply some attacking pressure.

NR Edgar Castillo (Tijuana/MEX) 5/0.
Replaced Johnson for the final 10 minutes.

19 comments about "Gomez and Johnson get high marks despite defeat".
  1. Walt Pericciuoli, May 31, 2012 at 10:20 a.m.

    Cannot play Bocanegra and Onyewu together Both are very slow.Both need to have a partner quick enough to cover for them.Bradley was nowhere in sight to help defensively.Not sure why he was switched back to the deeper lying MF of the 3 holding MF, Edu, Jones and Bradley. He didn't cover that space and forced the 2 CFB's to have to step up, thereby exposing lots of space behind them.

  2. Nikolaus Gabris z, May 31, 2012 at 10:58 a.m.

    US finally found a forward in Gomez, constantly moving into scoring position
    . you could see the hunger in him for wanting to score, very creative in his play, forget Altidore, no comparison. MB
    man of the match followed by Gomez. Defense needs work. Considering the competition, good effort in second half by US.

  3. Nikolaus Gabris z, May 31, 2012 at 11:05 a.m.

    US needed this wake up call, reality check, especially after Scotland. Good to be tested by Brazil to show the true weaknesses in the team and certain players.

  4. Mark N, May 31, 2012 at 11:19 a.m.

    Agree with Walt about Bradley. Replays of goals against USA for years have shown MB trotting toward the ball in front of central defense moments before the ball hits the net. Never enough pressure from him there, especially when the back 4 have time to support him. 3rd goal and Pato's shot off the post could both have been prevented by better defending from MB.

  5. Geno Genowicz, May 31, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.

    I agree that Bradley defended very poorly in the final third. This may indicate a need to play him in a more forward position, where is passing is #-10-like.

    I am now officially worried about Gooch, but I want to give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

    Herc's performance makes me re-think a D/D front line. Though I normally hate to see a lone striker, perhaps an attacking triangle amongst the three is best for them to complement each other.

    With Boyd in the wings, Altidore shouldn't even be on the bench.

  6. David Sirias, May 31, 2012 at 12:17 p.m.

    "Good touches for the most part and hit a few very dangerous set plays that nearly produced goals. Lost a few one-v-one duels early" ........What! Bad touches throughout Ridge. Marcelo marked him out of the game. Man v boy. Brazil is a very smart team. They know that LD is only dangerous when in the open field. They made sure that didn't happen and that's why it was like 11 v 10 the first half. This used to happen to LD a lot in the mid 00's. But it will happen more often as LD slowly loses his speed. But JK is smart too. I expect that you will rarely see LD as true winger anymore against good teams. His value against good teams is as a free second striker like in the Scot game......AND....JK wanted to see if the Gooch and Boca show was still viable. It's not! Curtain is going down. Thanks for the memories. Nat Borchers would have made a better showing against Brazil. Basically, we need to see Cameron and Goodson all summer long until Ream, John , and later Gonzalez are ready to challenge. Many of us who closely follow the team have been waiting for JK to make the central defense transition...... It's official now. .... Boca and Gooch have no speed and not enough skill to play out of the back like JK wants. All in all a good show where the game was closer than the score and we got the desired efficacy in terms of player evaluation.

  7. Steven&linda Pedlow, May 31, 2012 at 12:27 p.m.

    Oguchi is a threat on offensive corner kicks, but his defending has always been highlighted by mistakes. Have never thought he deserved to start for USA.

  8. Scott O'Connor, May 31, 2012 at 1:31 p.m.

    As usual, we blew more chances than the other team had for the whole game. Except for Howard's kick save early to prevent a 2-0 score by #9 on a messed up onside trap and Pato's post, Brazil netted every decent chance they got. We hit the post on an open header (Gooch), Dempsey was a step slow to knock in Gomez's brilliant header cross, Gomez put a bad touch on a ball over the top and couldn't get a good shot off, Bradley hit open header right at the keeper, Bocanegra didn't head an open header downward right in front of the goal. Although Brazil technically dominated the game, with some decent finishing, we could have put some pressure on the scoreline. Also the penalty call was total garbage. That ref started out the game trying to make the SportsCenter highlight reel. Take out the penalty, give us a decent finish on one of the six great chances we had in the box, and the game is a very respectable 3-2.

  9. Scott O'Connor, May 31, 2012 at 1:38 p.m.

    With the above in mind.... I'm glad we got spanked. Better here in this meaningless game than against Mexico or Honduras or Costa Rica or Guatemala. Klinsmann has to see the defensive liabilities that are going to kill us down the road. Gooch and Carlos are fine against the minnow teams who will barely put a shot on goal due to our midfield's dominance. Against teams that will battle evenly or dominate our midfield, we need a defensive 4 that are speedy, good markers, and technical on the ball when we gain possession.

  10. Scott O'Connor, May 31, 2012 at 1:43 p.m.

    Gomez was a revelation. He has improved so much by going and playing in the Mexican league. What hustle and determination he showed. The play that cinched it for me for him over Altibore was when Gomez ran the length of the field to track down Hulk from behind and prevent a scoring chance. Think Lazy Altibore would EVER do something for the team like that, NO CHANCE. Gomez has my vote just on grit and hustle alone (and he scores goals as well as Lazy does). Bravo Herculez!

  11. Carlos Thys, May 31, 2012 at 2:23 p.m.

    Has anyone been able to determine why Jose Torres received the yellow card very early in the first half? If so, please post it here.

  12. david caldwell, May 31, 2012 at 2:47 p.m.

    An unjust scoreline, and a slight wake-up call combined. Gooch really struggles with the pace of play. Goodson or Parkhurst (or Lichjai) are better choices. Boca is a physical presence and plays that role well. The Boca-Gooch pairing is too slow. Gooch had several very bad touches in front of goal too. I thought MB was a classic box-to-box player in this game, broke up many BRA passing sequences and completed countless passes of his own. Edu has the ability, but also had several giveaways. Gomez was excellent - pace, strength, work rate. But don't write off Jozy - he is a finisher (19 goals this yr.) Landon played OK, he was going against the world's best outside back (seriously)and sure, he came up empty on several encounters. It says a lot that he was pounced on by BRA defenders. Johnson is a revelation - runs at defenders, great skill, and tidy in defense. If the US plays like this, they will get 6 points in first 2 qualifiers....despite this rough 1-4 scoreline.

  13. Eric Offner, May 31, 2012 at 2:52 p.m.

    Uguchi is not good enough as defender

  14. Kent James, May 31, 2012 at 5:44 p.m.

    Gooch is a beast on headers, but his liabilities make him no longer a fit for the USMNT. Although he's always had trouble with touch and quickness, I've admired him over his career, so I disappointed to see that he should retire from the national team. Bocanegra may be a year or two behind him, but he is probably worth pairing with some of the younger central defenders (listed by David Sirias). Edu is not an offensive player (but he's a pretty classy defender; maybe he could play center back?). Johnson and Gomez impressed me; Scott's point contrasting Gomez w/Altidore in their desire/ability to chase back is a good one, but to be fair to Altidore, he's not that type of player; he's more of a stand up forward who can hold the ball under pressure and win balls in he air. I've never been an Altidore fan, but he's done well in Europe so he certainly deserves to be in the mix, but I'd like to see if Gomez and continue to perform.

  15. James Froehlich, May 31, 2012 at 10:47 p.m.

    I have always liked MB but thought that his biggest problem was his dad. Under JK and with his Serie A experience he has become a special player. That said, it is exceedingly tiresome to watch the TV and print media try to make him into the MNT savior. He definitely made some nice passes but he also, as noted, had some serious defensive lapses. Still a good performance but not a 7. Regarding Torres, the problem seems to be the reverse. Hisoutstanding

  16. John Roode, May 31, 2012 at 10:49 p.m.

    By position... Gomez - timely, clever and a decent work rate. Probably our best option as a front runner since McBride - Donovan - Decent server of the ball but our most prolific scorer ever. Should not be the 3rd or 4th player in the box, but at least the second, if not first. Therefore should be playing withdrawn striker behind Gomez, IMO. - Torres - should not be on the roster. Limited work rate at a position that we need more from. he is a "pretty" player. Dempsey in his place is obviously the answer. - Edu - Should not be playing in front of Bradley under any circumstances. Purely a defensive midfielder. Why put him anywhere near the goal??? Should not be a starter. Beckerman is better suited to play the left side of midfield in a paired up role with either Jones, or Bradley if you want to keep him in a deeper position to spray the penetrating long balls... which he does very well. But I would play him in tandem with someone when played in front of central defense, so as to allow him to go forward with cover. And actually, I would consider him player as a withdrawn striker when Donovan leaves. He is clever enough to find the space created by the front runner (Gomez) and has the skills to finish anywhere from the top of the box to the penalty spot. - Jones should be a playing a purely defensive mid position. I thought Cherundolo played ok. But he's getting up in years and we will need to find a RB soon to replace him. - Onyewu is not capable of playing at this level. I know he plays for Sporting and thus sees a pretty high level of soccer week in and week out. But he just does not have the pace and/or the ability to read the game quickly enough to compensate for his lack of quickness afoot. We need to find a Center Back to pair with Bocanegra and go with him. Let Onyewu be a situational player. - Bocanegra can still get it done but needs another capable back to work with. He can not play 2 positions... or even 1-1/2. Johnson looked exceptional. Looks like we finally have a left back. Bottom line... Torres, Edu or Jones and Onyewu need to go. And we need to play with tandem defensive mids. NOBODY is playing with a single defensive mid anymore. There is simply too much ground to cover in front of the center backs to expect one player to do it... AND expect to get any offenseive production out of him at the same time. So why play Bradley there by himself. Makes no sense to me. Klinsman did that early on and we lost, lost, lost... then he switched to tandem defensive mids and we started to win, win, win... now we go back to single defensive mid again... against Brazil no less. Jurgen... wake up, buddy.

  17. James Froehlich, May 31, 2012 at 11:51 p.m.

    His outstanding possession and ball skills is continuously ignored. In the Scotland game it was Torres who stole the ball and passed to an on-rushing Bradley who passed to Donovan. Did any of the announcer's note that--hell no. How about the sweet control against the Brazilian midfield! Again no comments. The comment about "being unsure on the ball" is absolutely ridiculous. Torres had little play during the first half but when he did he was the only one with any semblance of poise on the ball -- actually schooled two of the Brazilian. Jones was also short-changed with the truly stupid comment that he wasn't helpful offensively. Ridge, if you didn't notice, there wasn't really much of any offense in the first half.

  18. Scott Olson, June 1, 2012 at 11:29 a.m.

    Trash. Onyewu looked completely out of place and Torres spent the whole game walking aroound instead of his usual high speed running attacks. Cherundolo also a waste. America still has a defensive team problem, big problem. Yeah, some of that can be a very good Brazilian team but not all of it.

  19. Scott Olson, June 1, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.

    I agree. Altidore lazy just like Torres during this game.

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