Not much spectacle in Toronto

[CANADA-USA REPORT CARD] A heavy regimen of training in addition to friendlies appeared to slow down the USA against Canada, though over the 90 minutes the Americans had enough of the ball to test Canada’s defense sporadically.

The much-ballyhooed starting debut of the Landon Donovan-Clint Dempsey duo didn’t generate many fireworks as both players played smart, controlled soccer. They did link up directly to produce a point-blank Dempsey shot that was saved and also provided teammates with the occasional opportunity without trying to dominate the opposition.

Both teams open the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying play Friday. The Americans host Antigua & Barbuda, and Canada plays at Cuba.

6 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 76/0.
Clutch saves in each half, from attempts by Tosaint Ricketts and Nik Ledgerwood, and confident handling of balls into the box earned the Americans their second straight away shutout.

5 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover/GER) 82/2.
Stayed deep more than usual, in part to offer more room for Gomez, Donovan and Dempsey on his side of the field, but also to neutralize Canada’s speed.  He cleaned up a lot of stuff at the back post when Canada attacked down the opposite side, and just got his foot to a Dwayne De Rosario diagonal ball that nearly produced a goal.

6 Clarence Goodson (Broendby/DEN) 29/3.
Powerful header in the final minutes required a spectacular tip-over save by Lars Hirschfeld. He’d earlier scuffed a point-blank chance over the crossbar when a flick by Gomez skipped a foot behind him. Defensively he stepped confidently into tackles and dropped into passing lanes, though Olivier Occean snuck in behind him to stretch futilely for a cross.

5 Carlos Bocanegra (Glasgow Rangers/SCO) 104/13.
He looked a bit out of sorts before and after he took a fierce tumble into the end boards in a tussle with Occean, and like several starters was substituted in the second half. He wasn’t at his best reacting to second balls but put in the necessary work.

4 Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana/MEX) 6/0.
Forced into the lineup when Fabian Johnson suffered a right calf strain during warmups, Castillo started the match with a nicely clipped ball into the box for Gomez, and near the end of the first half belted a dipping volley that required a save. A careless giveaway near his own goal line was one of several glaring errors of the schoolboy variety that offset his attributes on the ball.

5 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 141/49.
He played a vital role in several good scoring chances, providing Jermaine Jones with a pair of opportunities and working a give-and-go with Dempsey that produced a point-blank save. Obviously conscious of conserving his energy, he didn’t buzz the Canadians at full-go more than a few times, and relied more on subtle touches like the one to Gomez that forced a foul by a befuddled Adrian Hainault.

6 Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona/ITA) 67/10.
Assigned a holding role he’ll probably be handed against Guatemala (unless the USA falls behind), Bradley tightened down the middle and played effective if not spectacular passes. In the final minutes, his corner kick produced Goodson’s sharp header.

5 Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/GER) 19/2.
In the opening minutes he latched onto a lob from Donovan and lashed a shot that was blocked out for a corner, and early in the second half hit another shot from a Donovan feed that was diverted by a defender. He was terribly inconsistent with his switches of play and other passes, one of which killed a U.S. counter when it ran lazily right to an opponent.

5 Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca/MEX) 17/0.
He relayed balls efficiently as usual, and also drifted into the middle at times. Crossed signals with Castillo on occasion, which revealed their lack of time on the field together. He delivered set plays of decent quality that the Canadians, who’d obviously done their scouting, anticipated more often than not.

5 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 85/25.
Roamed wide and dropped deep to find effective positions but was often by smothered by two or three opponents. Worked a clever one-two with Donovan late in the first half to hit a point-blank shot that Hirschfield bravely smothered, but seldom found enough space to shoot otherwise.

5 Herculez Gomez (Santos/MEX) 11/3.
Earned a corner kick in the opening minutes by chasing down a ball from Castillo, and on a subsequent corner got to the near post to flick a very dangerous ball that Goodson skied over the bar. Floated wide right to play the ball Dempsey relayed to Donovan that produced good save by Hirschfeld. His influence waned in the second half.

5 Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon/POR) 65/6.
Better than he was against Brazil, which isn’t saying much, but at least he matched the Canadians’ strength and effort.

4 Jozy Altidore (AZ/NED) 47/13.
Very rusty but diligent, Altidore labored up front without success.

5 Maurice Edu (Rangers/SCO) 35/1.
Solidified the middle capably though on a couple of set plays he seemed slow to react.

NR Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland/DEN) 13/0.
Given a few openings to display his passing and attacking instincts, Parkhurst didn’t read the situations quickly enough.

NR Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 8/0.
One or two touches in his 10-minute appearance.

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

5 comments about "Not much spectacle in Toronto".
  1. James Froehlich, June 4, 2012 at 3:29 p.m.

    Please do us all a favor and get yourself and MB a room!! Your inability to deal with him objectively does no one any favors. I have always felt that he was a top 11 player and even more so since going to Italy. However, none of the midfielders deserved more than a 5. Your rationale, presumably based on delivering the ball to Goodson, is bogus. Both Donovan and Torres put several good balls into the box (missed a few too) but no one got a head on them. By your criteria they should have been given 6's too.
    The midfield had a bad day across the board. They totally failed to close down any one. Certainly there were possible excuses: tired legs from the previous 3 games; two-a-days; and of course looking past a friendly with eyes to the real thing. All are valid but still disappointing.

  2. Robert Heinrich, June 4, 2012 at 4:37 p.m.

    In the first half, I was frustrated with the number of balls played over the top. It looked like the US of old. Perhaps this was because our midfielders were too fatigued to be dynamic off the ball, but there was very little linkage. In the second half, I wondered what Dempsey was doing dropping so far back to pick up the ball. Jones, Torres, and Bradley had so little penetration of the Canada defense. At least when Dempsey did pick up the ball, he was several times able to get upfield with it, find a flank player and get into the box. Donovan rarely seemed to pinch in to find the ball at midfield. Pretty listless play.

  3. Brent Crossland, June 4, 2012 at 5:38 p.m.

    Robert - My son asked me about the game and I told him that it looked like the "old" US team with all of the long balls played from the back. 15 minutes later I log in here and you've already said that! ;-)

    Ridge - Subtract '1' from every player and I think you'd be more accurate. I was entertained by the Scotland game but didn't count it for much. I was disappointed in the Brazil game for the "same old" defensive lapses. The Canada game was pure cold water. IF we don't play better than that we won't have to worry about being 3 and out . . . we'll be watching from home.

  4. Allan Lindh, June 4, 2012 at 5:38 p.m.

    The wind spoiled the match for both sides, but Canada won with a clean goal in first half, which only the linesman didn't see as such.

  5. James Madison, June 4, 2012 at 10:51 p.m.

    Too often there was not much for Bradley to do except lob the ball over the top, as no one else was doing much of anything by way of attack. Indecisive with the ball at their feet, sluggish, listless, seemingly disinterested (in the case of Donovan), you name it. Not much to say for anyone other than Bradley, whose year in Italy has resulted in a significant improvement in his play; Cherundulo, ever the journeyman; and Howard. For a model, the Americans should watch a replay of Mexico against Brazil.

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