Gomez gets just reward in U.S. victory

[USA-ANTIGUA & BARBUDA REPORT CARD] Some of the defending wasn’t up to par, but the Americans got the necessary goals as the USA opened the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying by beating Antigua & Barbuda, 3-1, Friday night in Tampa.

USA Player Ratings
5 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG).

He was seldom disturbed for most of the match, then snuffed the visitor’s fleeting hopes when he denied Peter Byers in the final minutes to maintain a two-goal cushion.

6 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/GER) 83/2.
He got forward on regular intervals to add numbers in midfield and seldom had trouble containing the opposition’s efforts down his side. He hit some crosses early that tested the back line and in the second half pushed up further to play more balls to feet.

5 Clarence Goodson (Brondby/DEN) 30/3.
A strong game in the air at both ends and thwarting Antigua & Barbuda’s best chance of the first half with a sliding block increases his stature.

6 Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers/SCO) 105/13.
Scored on the rebound of a saved header to give the Americans an early 1-0 lead, and after moving to left back early in the second half, cut back a pass that Herculez Gomez drilled off the crossbar. His positioning and marking were at times lax but he recovered on most occasions.

6 Jose Torres (Pachuca/MEX) 18/0.
As an emergency choice at left back, he played a spirited and smart 57 minutes mostly in midfield before suffering a left ankle contusion that forced him to the sidelines. Crossing was inconsistent but he tormented Antigua & Barbuda constantly by getting down the flank.

7 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 142/49.
Donovan worked some great combinations with Clint Dempsey and other teammates, one of which yielded the penalty kick that Dempsey drove home for the second goal. He also sweetly swerved the corner kick to produce first U.S. goal and menaced constantly by his pace and guile in the attacking third.

6 Maurice Edu (Rangers/SCO) 36/1.
He got involved offensively when the situations allowed, and his excellent chipped ball down the middle set Donovan clear for a shot that was saved. He clipped another ball in the second half that forced a desperation clearance for a corner. Ranged from side to side to blunt most of what the opposition attempted through the center and held that spot in the second half as the U.S. pushed more players forward.

5 Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona/ITA) 68/10.
A few listless passes in the first half went awry and he reacted slowly to the quick free kick that generated A&B’s best chance of the opening period. His attacking influence increased in the second half and before he and Gomez overpowered their foes to generate the third U.S. goal, he glided down the right flank to set up a good chance for Dempsey and tested the keeper himself with a hard shot.

6 Jermaine Jones (Schalke/GER) 20/2.
As early as the fifth minute, he pressed forward into the right-wing position vacated by Donovan, and that threat eventually opened up big spaces' for the Americans. He muscled opponents off the ball and played enough passes forward to keep them off-balance. In addition to his ball to Donovan, two other balls through the middle required last-ditch clearances.

6 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 86/26.
He looked sharp and dangerous for much of the game, and after a quiet period raised his energy in the minutes leading up to the third U.S. goal. He drilled a low shot that required the best save of the night from Molvin James, and his thumped penalty kick easily beat the keeper.

7 Herculez Gomez (Santos/MEX) 12/4.
Busy and clever for the entire match, he got a just reward for all his work by netting the clinching goal from a sharp angle in the 72nd minute. His excellent near-post header resulted in the rebound that Bocanegra stuffed into the net, and when he wasn’t on the ball he was opening up space with his sharp runs. He also blasted a first-time shot off the crossbar from a ball cut back by the captain and nearly scored with a point-blank header.

3 Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon/POR) 66/6.
His missed tackle allowed Byers to score the goal that made the game close and he also stepped up late for a pass that provided Byers with another chance.

5 Jozy Altidore (AZ/NED) 48/13.
His nice feed from the right wing provided a clear chance for Dempsey.

4 Terence Boyd (Bor. Dortmund/GER) 4/0.
He didn’t see much of the ball during his late stint and gave it away too easily when he got it but did get off a shot that was blocked.

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

24 comments about "Gomez gets just reward in U.S. victory".
  1. Lloyd Elling, June 9, 2012 at 7:50 a.m.

    I loved the play of Bocanegra at left wing and he appeared to as well. Fabian Johnson looked skilled in the same position, before his injury. We still do not have two central defenders of world class skills. When will the Galaxy central defender return?

    Cheers to Antiqua-Barbuda for their play. 86,000 citizens and they can compete with 14 players.

  2. Tom Symonds, June 9, 2012 at 8:22 a.m.

    Onyewu should never play again...such juvenile mistakes.

  3. Bill Anderson, June 9, 2012 at 8:38 a.m.

    Oguchi Onyewu was the worst player on the field (for either team). This surely is the end of his national team career. Landon Donovan doesn't deserve a 7, that is a vastly inflated rating. LD has had one good game (Scotland) in the last four months. I think the time has come for his tired legs to come off the bench late in games where his experience and desire can be best utilized. If he comes in at the end of games, his legs will look fresh against his opponents. He can be a "Super Sub".

  4. Robert Kiernan, June 9, 2012 at 9:03 a.m.

    Lloyd, Omar Gonzalez suffered an ACL injury this Winter, they just don't heal up in less than half a year... often closer to a full year, so we can't expect him back and fully ready for some good while. Boca has NO BUSINESS playing out on the wing, he is 33 years old and just can't be expected to make long runs in both directions, he simply does not have the pace to do that for very long... but we need to find someone to play at Left Wing Fullback, with both Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo suspect at best and now Jose Torres as well we are looking at a dearth of true options there... Boca is too slow to be effective, that leaves us with moving Cherundolo or Parkhurst over to play there, although neither are at their best on the left... and we are running short of midfielders we can use there as well... maybe Edu, but seriously outside of theoretically trying say, Corona... there aren't any other candidates really... So I would submit it is time to admit our situation and bring in another LB into the side and that clearly either is Eric Lichaj or possibly Danny Williams or even Alfredo Morales who where last cuts, but we simply can't continue with Bocanegra playing away from where he belongs which is strictly as a centerback... it just weakens the side too much and will clearly make our attack more limited and predictable if we stick to this line up. As for Onyewu, it's a sad fact that he has had a stray match or two where he has looked good, but overall his game hasn't been strong since his injury in the fall of 2009. The liability of playing him now out weighs the benefit, simply put he was a physical presence once, great for going man to man with a big Striker, but he has shown a tendency to have problems making the right decisions in a more zonal defensive set up and other than last fall's match with Honduras, I can't remember any match where he has been truly strong out there, no it's got to be by default Geoff Cameron or Michael Parkhurst that come off the bench to play at central defense ... but again Parkhurst might be already playing at Fullback now... it just calls out for another left sided fullback... even another MLS guy, maybe Zach Loyd or Drew Moor... but SOMEBODY who has the speed to play one on one and the temperament not to get easily rattled... I still think the best option with Tim Chandler taking a walk, is ERIC LICHAJ... but SOMEONE NEEDS TO BE ADDED...AND QUICKLY!!! (ICE)

  5. Walt Pericciuoli, June 9, 2012 at 9:29 a.m.

    I can't figure out why Lichaj wasn't there already?Bocanegra can only play centrally, if at all these days,and Gooch should night see game time as a USNT player again.I mean,this was Antigua-Barbuda?Donovan was over rated in this game.He only seems half into to it.Perhaps it is time to bring him in off the bench and allow some of the other hungry players in there.

  6. Bill Anderson, June 9, 2012 at 9:36 a.m.

    Why keep fighting the "Left Fullback Question". Play 3-5-2 and get the width from a winger, the 3 backs never have to come down the field into the attack, they just need to be able to combine with the center mids or find the forwards feet with penetrating passes.

  7. Mark Luetkehans, June 9, 2012 at 10:25 a.m.

    The way Eric Lichaj played the last 8 games starting for Aston Villa (after recovery of hip injury).. he has shown speed and ability against some of the best in the Premier Leauge. He stayed step for step with Gareth Bayle, did well vs. Chelsea's speed, etc. He should have been selected 3 weeks ago. Get him in now, and especially with all the left back injuries...plus he can as effectively play on the right if Cherundelo goes down next... he deserves it and we need him!

  8. beautiful game, June 9, 2012 at 10:36 a.m.

    Overall USMNT performance was mediocre; not worth the price of admission. This game is a repetition of the fragile 'professional' mentality of individual players whose performance track record repeats itself with inconsistent play over 90 minutes. IMHO, this game was not worth the price of admission as the oppossing team showed little skill and nothing much else. It looked like a JV v Varsity game. The commentary by Glenn Davis and Mr. Twellman was shocking as it was winded, off the pitch, and illusional while the TV camera crew did enough bouncing around to make the viewer dizzy.

  9. Scott O'Connor, June 9, 2012 at 11:18 a.m.

    Terrence Boyd, although I fell asleep before he came on the pitch (I was watching the game on TV late last night) deserves a 10. He's now capped and is a US player forever! I think he could be a stud for years to come! Either way he can't Chandler us now....

  10. Scott O'Connor, June 9, 2012 at 11:22 a.m.

    I'm troubled with Dempsey taking penalties now. Donovan is money from the spot for the USMNT. I've never seen him miss a penalty for the Nats. As penalties may be the only way we score if our play continues to deteriorate, those need to be converted every time. I just don't see that from Dempsey. That said, his finish was pretty cheeky, hitting it right down the middle (if that's what he meant to do).

  11. Scott O'Connor, June 9, 2012 at 11:31 a.m.

    Does anyone know if we can add to our roster with all the injuries? My guess is that you can't. That's why you're supposed to name a roster and that's why you get 23 spots for an 11 player team. You need to pick enough guys to handle a few injuries. When I saw the roster before the Scotland game, I was concerned (and posted it here) that we were light on outside backs while heavy in the middle. I guess that proved to be correct. I wonder why Lichaj was not included? Perhaps a couple weeks rest will have Fabian recovered enough to play. After the Guatemala game everybody gets a month or so off so no sense in saving anybody now. Plus Johnson hasn't been officially capped yet, although I think he has no choice but to play for us now since he switched (don't understand why that doesn't apply to Chandler, however).

  12. Scott O'Connor, June 9, 2012 at 11:36 a.m.

    I can't figure out why JK put Onyewu out there to begin with. Perhaps it was a low risk way to give him one last chance to show some good play? Well he clearly failed. To get schooled against the strikers of A&B is a complete disgrace. He's a proud man and he should offer to retire from international football today.

  13. Mike Gaynes, June 9, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.

    Klinsmann is one of those who believes the guy who draws the penalty should not take it, which is why Dempsey got the call. As to the roster, there's plenty of time to change it over the summer. After Guatemala, the US doesn't play again until September, and I'm sure we'll see a significantly different roster then, especially in the back. Johnson will be back, I predict Lichaj will be called in, and I will go out on a limb and say that Chandler will be officially in a US uniform if he hasn't been called up by Germany... which he won't be. And I think that we will have seen the last of Gooch, Castillo and Parkhurst.

  14. Eric R., June 9, 2012 at 1:43 p.m.

    Donovan. I'm not a huge Donovan guy, but I think some of the comments above are way too harsh and panicky. Donovan was good, but sometimes he over-thinks and passes the ball if he thinks someone else has a better angle. To me, I think you take the shot if you got one and force the goalie to make the save.

    Bocanegra, those of you who are ripping him must've been watching a different game. In CB, he was again the better of the two (that would be true no matter who else they coupled him with back there), and the best defender on the night. Johnson might be back by Tuesday, if not, Edu at LB and Beckerman at DM woouldn't be too bad. Torres just has a bone bruise, I'd expect him on the bench Tuesday depending on how it feels.

    Penalty kick. Donovan took a pretty harsh tackle that led to Dempsey's penalty kick. This had nothing to do with Klinsmann's guidance. This is pragmatism. After that takedown, Donovan's leg would probably hurt for several minutes. I can think of worse penalty takers than Deuce.

    Lichaj. He's good enough to make the 23, not really to be counted on regularly.

    The players we have, with one or two exceptions, are the best we got. The only player I can think of that I wish was available is Shea, and he hasn't stopped in 18 months. Regardless of what anyone tells you, an athlete can't improve without a break for 18 months. With a few exceptions, the body -especially of a pro athlete - needs at least 3 week of relative rest. I don't mean beer swilling and potato chip eating on the couch, but around a 15% work reduction. Shea has been over-training and a rest now will help him peak again, maybe in the fall.

  15. David Sirias, June 9, 2012 at 2:04 p.m.

    I agree that this was Gooch's last chance......until he proves that he can return back to form and injury free --highly doubtful. Boca made two terrible back passes that created chances for AB. He is slow. That he has the heart of a lion matter little at his age. Dolo creates no chances anymore despite his good soccer brain And he is slowing too. ...... I have been a JK supporter. I knew this project would take time. But his big mistake has been not giving Cameron more time. No way Gooch should play against Guatemala. Now Cameron will be trial by fire. Not ideal. Boca has to move to LB if Johnson is not 100% That means JK probably has to play 442 on Tuesday.

  16. Scott O'Connor, June 9, 2012 at 5:25 p.m.

    I'll take 44% of Johnson over 100% of Carlos at LB. If he can run, he's out there if it's up to me, plus it gets him the official US cap.

  17. James Madison, June 9, 2012 at 10:32 p.m.

    Ridge, you are too generous. Except for one period of five minutes or so preceding the third US goal, the speed of play was dreadfully slow, and at times lackadaisical. There were spurts by individuals, but overall I would say a lackluster team performance much like that in the 1-1 tie with Canada. If the US continues in the same vein, it will be lucky to get out of this preliminary group.

  18. Carlos Thys, June 10, 2012 at 2:33 p.m.

    Some attention needs to be given to the heavy rains that day, during the match, and in the two days prior. Perhaps that slowed some things down. But I have to wonder about the travel and team training sessions in this last fortnight. Let's hope there are some "relax" days between now and Guatemala. They looked too slow and sluggish. Again, maybe due to the footing...? Several have pointed it out above, but I will stick with saying that this is a huge error to have those aged 29 and older on the field for the USA. All of them have had their good moments for which we are appreciative. However, NOW, right NOW is the time to have inserted new and untested faces. Let's face it: The US now has a large pool of players who can play full-time, all-the-time football for pay. That certainly is not the case for the players they just faced with Antigua and Barbuda, nor probably even for the Guatemalans. The Jamaicans? This "Five Game Tournament" should be been the first five caps (or caps numbered 7, 9, or 10) for our new generation of U.S. players. This will not bode well if we see 1/3 of these same 23 faces in August. I don't see hungry, dynamic, improv-ready players. And I did not appreciate Clint Dempsey chewing out Hercules Gomez in the 2nd Half for hitting a shot "not" far post. Dempsey's little petulance there showed little teamwork and reveals the "Eurosnob" he's picked up. LAST but IMPORTANT: Get the GK Tim Howard to an eye specialist pronto; he looked horrible on the Peter Beyers goal.

  19. Bill Anderson, June 10, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.

    Carlos, I am shocked to find myself in complete agreement with you. If not now, when? The time for youth is now (Tuesday) and for the rest of the campaign. Sink or swim with the future, and let go of the past.

  20. Scott O'Connor, June 10, 2012 at 3:48 p.m.

    I disagree. The time for youth was the last year prior to starting Qualification. Perhaps, if this crew of veterans gets us 9-10 points in the first 4 games and locks up qualification early, JK will have the luxury of fielding some experimental sides in the last 2 games of this tournament, home against Guatemala and away against A&B. The job, his job, right now is to get us to the Hexagonal. Style points don't matter. JK gets fired if we don't make it. He keeps his job even if we win ugly with a bunch of senior citizens on the field. His goal to keep his job comes first to him. The benefit of that is that we are one step closer to getting to Brazil.

  21. Scott O'Connor, June 10, 2012 at 4:04 p.m.

    Furthermore, I think JK is very pragmatic (he's German, after all). He sees some guys that may be up and coming but not ready for whatever reason to step in and step up. I include Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, (even Tim Chandler), Gale Agbossoumonde, Joe Corona, Freddy Adu, Terrence Boyd, Mix Diskerud, Brek Shea, Juan Agudelo, and others in this group that has been left out of this and other teams so far. I think he sees that there is some young talent that he can gradually mix in to help the team but he's got to clear some hurdles in order to have the time to let them develop and integrate these players in. The first hurdle is this CONCACAF qualifying round. Should be a snooze to make it but it's not the time to gamble to the practical Klinsmann. Once this hurdle is done, he can and will resume bringing new guys into the team.

  22. Roger Sokol, June 10, 2012 at 4:58 p.m.

    I disagree that now is the time for experimentation, and especially not on this Tuesday. Maybe some of you can't remember the tribulations of playing qualification games in Central America. Well, let's just say some of the officiating has been suspect and the US can't count on getting any breaks. First things first. Get enough results in the first 3 or 4 games of this round to ensure you go through to the next round, then you can experiment. I think JK may have chosen some players for this round to ensure they get cap tied to the US - Terrence Boyd, for sure, and possibly Fabian Johnson. Aguedelo was probably left off the squad to settle in with Chivas and earn regular playing time with them. At this point, that's more important for his development and future value to the USMNT, then playing with the USMNT now. Shea seems to have been left out to send him a message that no one is a shoo in for the MNT. Hopefully, he will get the message, and clean up his conduct.

  23. Rick Taylor, June 10, 2012 at 11:01 p.m.

    I'm not a Boca fan, but I thought he did fine at left back. He has expereience and by putting him there his occasional gaffs are not as risky as they are when he is in the center. AS for not being able to run the field, Dolo has been doing it fine for a long while and he is over 30. Still, anything is better than Bornstien.....

  24. Raveen Rama, June 11, 2012 at 3:36 p.m.

    I like your last comment, Rick. Someone recommended to bring Bornstein back. What a disaster that would be!

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