Dempsey's toughness, superb goal rate highest mark

[GUATEMALA-USA REPORT CARD] In a typically roller-coast Concacaf World Cup qualifier, the luck ran hot and cold for the Americans, who also didn’t sustain their good periods of play long enough to feel they controlled the match.

The Americans lost a great scoring chance when a foul in the penalty arc on Clint Dempsey was whistled just as the ball broke loose for Jozy Altidore, but Altidore had looked so hesitant after replacing Herculez Gomez there’s no guarantee he would have got off a shot, much less scored. The back line was rejiggered when Geoff Cameron replaced Clarence Goodson, who’d been cautioned, but while Cameron appeared to handle the transition well, there were glitches elsewhere.

Miscommunication with the centerbacks and/or midfielders contributed to breakdowns that a better team would have punished more severely. Marvin Avila burned the back line a few times,  MLS veteran Carlos Ruiz caused his usual array of problems by battling and flopping, and the halftime insertion of  Chicago Fire midfielder Marco Pappa -- one of three subs at the interval -- turned the momentum in Guatemala’s favor, though not until the 83rd minute did the equalizer occur.

U.S. Player Ratings
5 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 77/0.
A strong save denied Carlos Figueroa from a sharp angle late in the first half and he also got his leg to a point-blank attempt by Luis Rodriguez before Carlos Ruiz skied the rebound. He didn’t get off his feet on Marco Pappa’s equalizing free kick; experienced goalkeepers should not be screened on set plays, if that’s what happened.

5 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/GER) 83/2.
He swung in a few good crosses but also committed several unforced errors that forced scrambling adjustments by the USA. A pair of nicely clipped balls behind the Guatemalan defense were annulled by offside calls. He lost a pair of one-v-one duels near the corner from which threatening passes were driven into the goalmouth.

6 Clarence Goodson (Broendby/DEN) 30/3.
Looked solid enough but took a caution midway through the first half, which prompted his departure at halftime. He plowed through the flopping and jabbering of Ruiz to defuse attacks, and while his strength in the air is obvious, he’s also sharpening his game on the floor.

6 Carlos Bocanegra (Glasgow Rangers/SCO) 105/13.
The captain marshaled the back line confidently and also stepped up on occasion to deliver crunching tackles his midfield mates seemed reluctant to deliver. He was among the strongest finishers of a team that looked very leggy as the second half wore on and for most the match neutralized whomever he came up against. He got a bit lucky when he kicked a clearance into his hand and the referee rightly ruled no intent.

5 Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER) 6/0.
An incredibly mixed game saw Johnson cleaned three times by attackers sneaking behind him and at the other end, several threatening runs up the flank or into the channel. Two of the latter provided excellent chances for Dempsey, one of which he turned into the U.S. goal. However, his rough foul on Ruiz gave away the tying free kick.

6 Jermaine Jones (Schalke/GER) 20/2.
Ostensibly the right midfielder in a five-man alignment, he ranged all over the field to support teammates, serve as a counterbalance to Dempsey, and shut down opponents. His balls into the final third weren’t always accurate but he was active offensively. Like several teammates he didn’t cope well with the insertions of Pappa and Manuel Leon but he also didn’t get cautioned, whereas two opponents did when they challenged him.

4 Maurice Edu (Rangers/SCO) 36/1.
He took rugged hits from late tackles and clumsy challenges, and while he connected with a few passes he also played some very aimless balls. His missed tackle allowed Ruiz a shot at goal from medium range, and he seemed completely lost at times as Guatemala pushed balls past him.

7 Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG) 86/27.
He showed his class with a superb goal that he set up with two touches that each slipped him past a defender, and he proved his ruggedness by climbing off the floor after being decked several times. He used the length and breadth of the field to stretch and shred Guatemala. On two occasions, his shots were blocked when a first-time hit might have got through.

5 Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona/ITA) 68/10.
He played a great ball into the penalty area that Altidore squandered and contributed to other promising attacking sequences that petered out. A dipping shot from about 25 yards required a decent save from Ricardo Jerez. Though his defensive work lacked consistency, he snuffed out several threatening situations. On a corner kick, he failed to reach a ball that Erwin Morales headed just over the bar, and he was absurdly cautioned while waiting to take a free kick.

4 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 142/49.
Touched the ball and moved efficiently yet wasn’t all that committed to going past opponents. He left a few set plays short of the danger area. Occasionally got down the left side to serve balls that the Guatemalans were able to repel.

4 Herculez Gomez (Santos/MEX) 12/4.
Worked relentlessly without much result but drove on heroically though his pace and touch just weren’t there. Blasted a free kick from midfield so far over the bar even his teammates looked puzzled. He leaves for his summer vacation holding, if somewhat tenuously, the role as top dog up front.

6 Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo) 5/0.
As a halftime sub for the cautioned Goodson, he won a lot of balls in the air and hit some very sharp passes. His composure under emergency conditions might have been the most impressive facet of his play.

4 Jozy Altidore (AZ/NED) 48/13.
Except for slipping a ball to Dempsey, who relayed it back to him under a crunching tackle that yielded a free kick, Altidore did plenty to justify not starting.

NR Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 21/1.
Cameo in stoppage time.

24 comments about "Dempsey's toughness, superb goal rate highest mark".
  1. Luis Arreola, June 13, 2012 at 9:24 a.m.

    Ridge here forgot to point out that Guatemala outshot USA 13-11. Does anyone here think we are top 4 team out of all 12? El Salvador played Mexico straight up, attacked when they had the ball and pressured the hell out of the midfield. El Salvador will come out 2nd in that group and will make Brazil ahead of USA. Mark my words. They get better every ime I se them.

  2. Simon Provan, June 13, 2012 at 10:24 a.m.

    Well, USA is now assured to finish ahead of El Salvador. Every time you say mark my words, Luis, the opposite happens. Well played, Luis, well played. You are a USA fan after all.

  3. cisco martinez, June 13, 2012 at 10:56 a.m.

    Being a former player and coach at the collegiate level, I think it would suit the USA to play a 3-5-2, simply due to the strong defensive midfielders, presence on the wing with donovan's speed, and altiodore paired with dempsey or boyd. Will USA get out of its group, I am sure we will, whether we win convingly is another story.

  4. Geno Genowicz, June 13, 2012 at 11:55 a.m.

    What was great to see is the sense of urgency from the first whistle that JK wanted to see. It was a very entertaining, end to end match. The next goal for JK should be managing a 1-0 lead. Had we been at home, our going for the kill would have been appropriate, but not away. Get big and work on managing a passing game and countering on occasion. Play your best 11 in qualifying regardless of age. I'm happy that Altidore continued to show why he is not an international, at least not yet, and he's certainly not amongst our best 11, 18, or perhaps even 23.

  5. Gordon Hayes, June 13, 2012 at 12:57 p.m.

    Simon - Luis hates America and white people and just wants us to lose so he can maintain hope someday of a US MNT with 100% Mexican Americans but I would not sweat it - he never played the game.

  6. John Soares, June 13, 2012 at 1:10 p.m.

    Had this been a game against a top 10 (even top 20) ranked team. I would say The US did well and certainly held their own. Considering they are ranked 85th. That "compliment" must go to Guatemala. --I thought Johnson did very well specially on offense, yes he made a couple defensive mistakes... who hasn't. But it's harsh to blame him for the goal. Give credit where it is due. It was a great kick. --Last; coaches get too much credit for a good game too much blame for a bad one. But REALLY how is this different from a Bradley team? Nine out of ten starters would have been the same. Altidore for Gomez would have been a mistake. (*Johnson doesn't count, he was not yet available). Fairly consistent play with little results against a "supposedly" much weaker team. ---YES! US will win the group! Probably second place in the final round.

  7. Chris Sapien , June 13, 2012 at 1:38 p.m.

    Read the comment thread from 6/8/12 "Concacaf day one" if you want to know what Luis is all about...

    Ric, Simon's prediction was in response to Luis' statement that ES will finish above the U.S. (point total v group finish) helps to read things a couple of times through

  8. Bill Anderson, June 13, 2012 at 2:34 p.m.

    Guatemala, I dare anyone to go there! Enough said.

  9. David Crowther, June 13, 2012 at 3:35 p.m.

    Luis - I'm not so sure ES is even going to make it out of the group. As it stands now, I think they are going to have to beat CR at home in the final game and that's going to be tough - unless they get a lot of help from the refs the way they did last week in San Jose. This ES team is very young and I just don't think they are quite there yet.

  10. Robert Heinrich, June 13, 2012 at 4:03 p.m.

    Pretty good assessments from my viewing. Donovan's play in the past two games suggests "Well, I've done my bit. It's Clint's team now. Let him carry the load." There was none of the zip and craftiness I expect to see. He was also one of three players (Bradley, Altidore) who were in on goal and chose to pass up the opportunity. It seems so basic: can't score if you don't shoot. It was a surprise to see Jermaine Jones playing soccer rather than mugging people. Bradley has played some great balls the past few games, to the point where I've felt like we might have a poor man's Wesley Sneijder, but then he seems to not be able to find his way at other times and can't pull any strings. Aside from our defensive deficiencies, we need someone to step up in midfield and orchestrate our attack on a consistent basis.

  11. Luis Arreola, June 13, 2012 at 4:11 p.m.

    I currently believe Costa Rica and El Salvador are better teams than USA at the moment. Panama could make a case. What m I all about exactly because I can say it again if you like.

  12. Luis Arreola, June 13, 2012 at 4:19 p.m.

    Costa Rica should have won at home. The pressure will be on them in ES if they don't get a result vs Mexico. Either way one of these tams should have been ranked higher than Cuba to be placed in seperate group as deserved. Both these teams are better than any of USA opponents in current group and better than anyone in other group. Whoever comes out with Mexico of group B will be finsih #2 overall in final round proving my point. Cris, mark this on you're Calender as well for reference.

  13. Scott O'Connor, June 13, 2012 at 4:29 p.m.

    I think Klinsi showed us his inexperience by subbing Altidore for Gomez. Gomez is one of the few guys that will defend box to box and Lazy Altibore definitely will not. If he wanted Gomez off, he should have subbed in a defensive midfielder and tighten the formation to hold on to the 1-0 lead and the 3 points. Hopefully he'll learn that style points are unimportant when playing road games in CONCACAF.

  14. David Crowther, June 13, 2012 at 4:39 p.m.

    I don't think either the US or Mexico will have any trouble qualifying. The fight will, as almost always, be for third and will likely come down to who gets hot at the right time. But if I had to make a pick now it would be Panama or Honduras. Thus, I have no problems with Cuba's group as it is well balanced with Honduras, Panama and Canada. But it is a pity that CR and ES are stuck in the same group rather than one of them being in the US group instead of Guatemala or Jamaica. That would have been fairer.

  15. Scott O'Connor, June 13, 2012 at 7:22 p.m.

    To Luis's point, I watched the (free) Mexico El Salv game and found it to be quite an even affair. I was impressed with El Salvador's effort and taking the game to Mexico a fair amount. The World Cup contender they are, however, Mexico's class was too much in the end for them.

  16. Kevin Reardon, June 14, 2012 at 8:30 a.m.

    There are a few fundamentals that anyone commenting on must have firmly in hand.

    1 - Concacaf is improving the caliber of the competition every year. Honduras, El Salvador, Jamaica (at times), Costa Rica, Panama can all put a team on the field for any particular and play with all but the top 10 - 12 FIFA ranked teams in the World. So you ensure that you win at home and draw on the road - plain and simple, no magic. In the group stage as well as the hexagonal, if you win at home and draw on the road you go through - period.

    2 - Concacaf qualifying is all about a very long journey where you start gathering your final squad through the competition by seeing - in the crucible of the competition - which players will be counted on at crunch time in the (expected) 16 matches (I think it's 16?) to be played to qualify. In that vein - you see Altidore coming on for Gomez and can expect to see it again as you will others in midfield and attack.

    3 - Concacaf qualifying is not a level playing field and I, for one, am incredibly encouraged that JK has absorbed well that particular lesson from the carryovers in the MNT. The refs are biased - plain and simple. It's so incredibly obvious that it has become a running joke. Hence game management focuses on taking the whistle out of the ref's mouth. In that vein you see Cameron on for Goodson so the ref couldn't make us play with 10 in minute 46 and you see the team looking for goal #2 to ensure a "phantom penalty" doesn't take the 2 points through the bias - not the quality of the opponent / lack of quality of our side on the day.

    4. - Will the non-Mexico teams muster enough to keep us out of Brazil. Could be - the ball is round. But if we have a healthy Donovan and Dempsey, Bradley, Edu and Torres (all on the young side at 24) continue to progress, Jermaine Jones can be channeled properly and we get some production from the front of the team I would very much like our chances. The team is built on seeking solidity at the back and no other team in the region begins that approach with anyone as strong as Tim Howard. The outside backs are looking better than they have since Korea Japan and if we get something out of Carlos B. through qualifying, we should look a team to have to be beat - not one that will beat itself.

  17. Gordon Hayes, June 14, 2012 at 2:17 p.m.

    Ric - ignorance is writing about things you don't know about such as the history of Luis' racist rants - clearly other SA posters notice similar traits so please don't emulate him and be ignorant. I agree his comments speak volumes about his knowledge of the game just not the way you think - he never played the game and is a daddy coach and he believes that his 'superior' knowledge comes by virtue of his place of birth. I believe the US should have the best athletes of any race so your ''xenophobic' comment displays more ignorance and a very Luis-like victim type mentality.

  18. Luis Arreola, June 14, 2012 at 3:26 p.m.

    Ric, Gordon went to college, played and is a college coach. He knows everything about soccer due to these facts and his spelling on these blogs are impeccable. He states that the best athletes in USA pick basketball & football first. He gets al pissy when I mention that black people are the ones dominating these sports and especially basketball (90% make up national teams) and only make up about 14% of USA population. This makes me a racist. I guess. He realty hates it when I point out that Hispanics in USA pick soccer first and they make up +16% of population. This means I hate white people. The one that he really hates the most is when I mention that how can what black people pick as their first sport reflect accordingly in our national basketball teams but not even close in soccer with Hispanics in the national level? This makes me an uneducated, soccer dad. He hates me but I love him. He proves my point of the narrow mindedness racism that exists very much in the soccer community. To prove me wrong my dear Gordon, why don't you elaborate on what you think are the best athletes we are missing out in soccer? His answer is always funny, Ric. He went to college.

  19. Gordon Hayes, June 14, 2012 at 3:49 p.m.

    Ric - the other thing about Luis is he lies all the time about everything especially when he tries to summarize mine and other's thoughts - he simply sums things up sp he can cry racism and play the victim. His true feelings are....."Very few in USA know much about soccer"......

  20. Luis Arreola, June 14, 2012 at 5:24 p.m.

    Gordon, again blah blah blah.

  21. Luis Arreola, June 14, 2012 at 6:14 p.m.

    Gordon, which part is a lie and why?

  22. James Madison, June 14, 2012 at 10:34 p.m.

    So "miscommunications with the centerbacks and/or midfielders" caused problems, but, except for Edu, that group got all 5's and 6's. How does that compute?

  23. Eddie Rockwell, June 18, 2012 at 12:03 p.m.

    At Bill Anderson - I went to Guatamala for the game and we were about 40 strong to about 20K Guatamalans. Nothing but great things to say about the experience. The fans were nice and hospitable and never felt threatened in the least. I'll go again if they make it out of the group with us...
    At Gordon & Luis, grow up & get along -- we're all fans of the Yanks...

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