Howard and Dempsey, the only positives in lackluster display

U.S. Report Card
By Ridge Mahoney

A late defensive breakdown caught centerbacks Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron napping and deprived the Americans of snagging a point. But they weren't the worst performers in the USA's 2-1 loss to Honduras in their Hexagonal opener. That honor fell to their German-American partners on the backline, Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson.

6 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 85/0. A superb punch save of Mario Martinez’s rising blast temporarily kept Honduras scoreless and with a few other saves he gave the Americans a chance of stealing a point. He came off his line aggressively on the second Honduran goal and did his job by forcing a pass that his defenders failed to deal with.

3 Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg/GER) 10/0. His much-awaited competitive debut didn’t go so well. He lost a duel on a shanked clearance to give Honduras a corner kick from which it scored the tying goal, and the times were many when Carlo Costly or another attacker got space behind him. He slid inside to protect the back post on occasion but never
looked secure.

4 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG) 12/0. It wasn’t always clear if he or central partner Omar Gonzalez had their roles and assignments defined, and though he dug into tackles and stepped into midfield to intercept through balls there were far too many shaky moments. Whether by confusion or fatigue he couldn’t deal with the through ball that Oscar Boniek Garcia slid across the goalmouth for the winner.

4 Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy) 4/0. Fell victim to the defender’s curse; made some good plays while obviously laboring to handle the intensity and pace of a road Hexagonal match, and fell asleep at a critical moment when a sharp reaction would have cleared a square ball that produced the winning goal. He nearly rescued a tie with the last touch of the match but his header from a corner kick sailed over the bar.

3 Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER) 11/0. He wasn’t the only guilty party but Martinez, Garcia, et al, ran rampant into his zone to whip in crosses or dart to the byline. His midfield partner on the flank changed several times, which sapped his game of continuity. In the second half he pushed up field to play a ball to Clint Dempsey in a good spot but never took advantage of space to lob balls into the box.

4 Danny Williams (Hoffenheim/GER) 12/0. He did his job with some good screening in front of the back line and scraped loose a couple of balls in threatening situations but failed to hold balls or play short passes to give the U.S. some rhythm. He seemed to lose his legs early and couldn’t find a way to subdue Honduran catalyst Roger Espinoza.

5 Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/GER) 27/2. He clipped a great ball over the Honduran back line that Dempsey volleyed home for one of the nicest goals of the Jurgen Klinsmann era. Another good ball freed Eddie Johnson, with whom he switched slots at times, on the left side. He took over duties for many of the set plays, which were hit and miss. He didn’t get his customary caution with a wild tackle or emotional outburst, but a few of his giveaways were glaring.

5 Michael Bradley (Roma/ITA) 73/11. Single-handedly drove the U.S. attack for much of the game, and played numerous good balls forward and out wide. He passed up a good shooting chance, took one long dribbler that was easily saved, and was unlucky on another occasion when his hard, low shot was deflected for a corner. Tasked with directing the attack he often dropped deep in search of the ball. He hit a couple of very poor set pieces. His atypical fluffed clearance led to Honduras’ equalizer and he didn’t react to the deflected cross that was spectacularly biked into the net.

5 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) 45/15. Started the match at left mid and moved to forward at halftime; he provided a great cross that Jozy Altidore volleyed narrowly over the bar, and also set up a good chance for Dempsey. The move up top didn’t stretch the Honduran defenders and though he ran at them he didn’t quite have the zip to burst clear. A crashing run on a corner kick yielded a strong header that cleared the bar.

6 Clint Dempsey (Tottenham/ENG) 92/31. His superb volleyed goal gave the Americans a 1-0 lead they could only hold for a few minutes. As personnel and formations changed, he shifted from a central role to one out wide, and then moved back into the middle. He dragged defenders into many areas but after scoring couldn’t find another good opportunity, and lost a chance when dispossessed at the edge of the box when a cleaner touch would have set up a shot. He seldom had a crossing option when he gained possession out wide.

4 Jozy Altidore (AZ/NED) 53/13. A dearth of service left him frustrated and exhausted, since there wasn’t much support for his hold-up play and runs into the attacking third. He also failed to turn with the ball at his feet, and expected a foul once when knocked down and got called for handball instead. His short, smart pass to Jones led to the goal. He gave a great effort to reach Johnson’s cross and under very tight pressure volleyed an awkward ball just over the bar.

4 Maurice Edu (Bursaspor/TUR) 43/1. One of two subs just before the hour mark, he spoiled an otherwise encouraging performance by failing to challenge Maynor Figueroa or block his pass in the build up to the winning goal.

4 Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/BEL) 39/4.
He started off adequately after replacing Eddie Johnson, but he then lost possession near the corner when well-placed to cross and followed up with a badly hit serve right to the opposing keeper.

4 Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) 8/1. His nerves may have betrayed him; though he brought energy, his touch was off, and his mistrap and subsequent handball snuffed a promising U.S. attack.

9 comments about "Howard and Dempsey, the only positives in lackluster display".
  1. Paul Bryant, February 6, 2013 at 11:52 p.m.

    Bradley "gifted" the ball, as the play-by-play announcer said, way too many times against Honduras. This version of the USMNT needs to get back to basics. Their technical ability is average at best, so this team needs to play a loc-down defense, like Jamaica did against Mexico, but score when the chances avail themselves, unlike Jamaica.

  2. David Legge, February 7, 2013 at 8:24 a.m.

    The game was slightly better the the canada game. Dempsey great goal, stay on your feet son. Defense lazy and slow. Mid fielders tackle someone. Playing off your man doesnt work. Step up and tackle as a team. You put very little pressure on the ball. Altidore looked slow. For a big man, you were measured and weighed. Sorry someone has to say it. Keep playing like this and it will be a long road to Brazil. Step it up boys!

  3. Kerry Ogden, February 7, 2013 at 10:18 a.m.

    What happen to rating the coach? I think Klinnsmans selection of players weren't the best as starters, Omar G. I personally feel is't as good as most people & commentators think he is! The first goal came because Omar didn't stay with the player he was marking after the corner kick was taken, allowing the player to retrieve the ball & put it back into the box which led to the beautiful goal by Hondurus, the second goal Howard should have stopped and again Omar was being hesitant on the back line also didn't help, which led to the second goal.Cameron did what he needed to do by not fouling the player and not taking out Howard! The USMNT coaches needs to get their Sh@# together along with the players!!! Terrible Game!!!

  4. Joe d. Shaw, February 7, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.

    I see the losing goal as a howler for Howard. When a keeper decides to come off his line and leave the goal open, he better get the ball and he did not. Simple: a Howler. One play does not add up to blame for the loss but Col. Klink failed his first comprehensive test as coach.

  5. Timothy Penrod, February 7, 2013 at 10:29 a.m.

    Ridge, I think it's time you were more critical. I have a big issue with saying Howard was a positive. Yes, he made a couple big saves, but he was slow off his line on a number of occasions. While he rightfully could scream at his backs throughout the match, perhaps he should be as critical of his own recent displays.

    With that, I'm curious if Kljestan is the new Ricardo Clark...just hoping we don't play him in an important game where he brings nothing to the table. Bringing on Gomez for Johnson would have been a significantly better move.

    Dempsey's goal was fantastic, no doubt. But that rating is a bit high for someone who didn't touch the ball the entire second half.

    There are a lot of 5's in this rating, which to me means the players had an average showing. Overall, the entire team lacked fire and creativity. No way any of them are rated that highly. Timmy Chandler, thank you for committing, but if you're going to play like that, we might as well go back to being dependent on Jonathan Bornstein as an outside back.

    Finally, I really didn't think Edu played that poorly. He sat in, defended relatively well, and did nothing that negatively impacted the team. Not saying he was great, but at least he didn't aimlessly boot a ball towards our own corner (Bradley deserves just as much blame for the first goal as anyone) without any pressure.

    Have to agree with most of your comments though, this group needs to step up, this performance reminded me of the dismal one against Spain a few years ago: no fire, complete lack of interest in the game. It's qualifying boys, show some pride wearing the jersey!

  6. Eric Schmitt, February 7, 2013 at 11:39 a.m.

    I think Eddie Johnson deserved a higher grade. He was one of the better players on the pitch for the US and subbing him out was one of several tactical errors by JK. I am a JK fan, but I put several pieces of blame for this loss at his feet.

  7. Steven SIegel, February 7, 2013 at 2:37 p.m.

    The back line was in a state of constant confusion. I am hoping this is lack of preparation or we will be letting in a lot more goals. US was lucky not to be down by more.

  8. Chris Sapien , February 7, 2013 at 6:42 p.m.

    All I can say is..........Thank God I was drinking!! I usually hold out the full-on barrage because I bleed the colors, but really?? If there is one saving grace it was the two draws in the other qualifiers. I liked less than nothing in our performance, and I am seriously wondering if Klinns is going to be one of those coaches who is going to "stick" with his guys no matter what results, just to prove that he is in charge. Honduras was ripe for a beat-down, and we came out with even less ambition than they showed. Can't say how bad it looked like our boys were more interested in not being the goat, than willing to go for glory! Gomez, Zusi, Davis, Bocanegra and Parkhurst should have started with Jones, Chandler, E. Johnson, Gonzalez & Jozy sitting. Nothing like making our first home game a "must win" affair......bring on the high altitude advantage vs CR :( (jk)

  9. Dan Phillips, February 7, 2013 at 7:52 p.m.

    When is Klinsmann ever going to give up on Jozy Altidore? He's terrible. Doesn't score, doesn't hustle. I don't care what he does in Dutch league. He stinks. Why didn't Klinsmann play Herculez Gomez. At least he can score!
    Hurry up Charlie Davies and get back in shape. We need you!

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