U.S. Report Card: Dempsey, Johnson are only bright spots

By Ridge Mahoney

Few players will get off the hook after the USA conceded a 4-2 defeat to Belgium, albeit one of Europe's most talented teams. The errors that cost the four goals were both individual (turnovers, inattention, poor positioning) as well as collective (lack of communication).

5 TIM HOWARD (Everton/ENG) 86/-.
Smothered a few through balls but couldn’t corral the one that Kevin Mirallas chipped over his head for the first goal. He handled the few crosses that reached him cleanly.

4 GEOFF CAMERON (Stoke City/ENG) 15/1. Terrible positioning could have been miscommunication with his teammates or sheer bad judgment, but he left acres of space that Belgium exploited. Didn’t tackle all that strongly and shared the blame on the first U.S. goal. Converted a chance nicely with his head and hooked away a few low centering passes, but otherwise looked overmatched.

3 OMAR GONZALEZ (Los Angeles Galaxy) 7/0. Beaten over the top and on the ground repeatedly and seldom looked secure. Very slow to react on first Belgian goal despite two chances to defuse the situation. Did well to chase down a ball in the box but then poked it right to Kevin De Bruyne, who set up the second Belgian goal. Spacing and communication with centerback partner Goodson were awful and he looked anxious to depart as the scoreline mounted.

3 CLARENCE GOODSON (Brondby/DEN) 36/3. Committed egregious error on first Belgian goal by not tucking behind Howard when he came out and sprinted far too late to stop the ensuing shot. He lost connection with Gonzalez often and didn’t read the intent of Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini often enough. Pushed into the attack in the first half to support a sequence with a couple of clever touches and hit a few good passes.

4 DAMARCUS BEASLEY (Puebla/MEX) 100/17. Provided plenty of hustle but not enough muscle. Stood up Belgian attackers one-v-one but usually came up short in the ensuing duels, and was overpowered by Benteke on Belgium’s fourth goal. Pushed forward to support Brad Davis in the first half and managed a decent cross, but was pinned back after halftime.

4 JERMAINE JONES (Schalke/GER) 29/2. Ample doses of the usual: heroic trackbacks to break up plays and excellent passes to the flanks were interspersed with unforced giveaways and sluggish reactions that left the space behind him and in front of the centerbacks wide open. He also provided the obligatory clumsy challenge for which he was rightly cautioned in the final minutes.

4 SACHA KLJESTAN (Anderlecht/BEL) 40/4. His skills and vision are sharper since he left MLS, and he kept the ball moving with good touches and intelligent movement. But he couldn’t stem the flow of Belgian passes through midfield and never seized the initiative to hit a killer pass or break through pressure on the dribble. As a deeper-lying player he offers value but only if defensively he toughens up. If he’s the more attack-minded of a central pair, that would be intriguing to watch.

4 GRAHAM ZUSI (Sporting Kansas City) 11/1. Excellent service on most of his set plays belied a rather anonymous performance. Swung the far-post inswinger after a short corner kick for Dempsey to head across goal and Cameron to nod in, yet had only limited influence during the run of play. Did his defensive work diligently in the first half but then faded and came off in the 69th minute. Neglected to mark up Fellaini and was a step late when the Everton man scored Belgium’s third goal.

5 BRAD DAVIS (Houston Dynamo) 8/0. The Dynamo playmaker contributed some clever touches and good ideas by tucking inside to serve balls, and there’s no question his strong left foot and accurate deliveries caused Belgium some minor headaches. But he lost his edge and a bad giveaway led to one of the opponent’s goals before being substituted in the 63rd minute.

6 CLINT DEMPSEY (Tottenham/ENG) 95/33. He labored diligently and shared in both goals despite heavy attention from his markers. His cushioned header from Zusi’s cross looped right into a spot Cameron could reach, and he crisply converted a penalty kick whistled somewhat fortunately for a handball. Just prior to the handball, he trapped a ball from Johnson and was immediately swarmed by four defenders. Help Wanted sign went up, justifiably.

3 JOZY ALTIDORE (AZ/NED) 56/13. Fluffed a nice cross from Dempsey in the opening minutes and maintained that level of performance until being substituted at halftime. Held up the ball well a couple of times yet his runs often lacked sharpness and purpose.

4 BRAD GUZAN (Aston Villa/ENG) 23/0. Saved a couple of routine shots comfortably. He could have been more aggressive on third Belgian goal but chose to stay on his line.

5 EDDIE JOHNSON (Seattle Sounders) 49/14. His pace and audacity caused Belgium a lot of problems, even if the handball call that resulted from his cross seemed fortunate. He ran and dribbled with confidence and his offside calls were products of aggression, not indifference.

3 TERRENCE BOYD (Rapid Vienna/AUT) 8/0. Flubbed touch on partial clearance led directly to Belgium’s third goal, and offensively he seldom found synchronization with his teammates.

4 BRAD EVANS (Seattle Sounders) 8/0. Crashed into the endboards after volleying a ball from Johnson during a spirited but ineffective effort.

4 MATT BESLER (Sporting Kansas City) 3/0. Stepping onto a sinking ship is treacherous enough, and he nearly compounded a bad situation with a mistimed challenge that forced a desperation recovery tackle.

NR STUART HOLDEN (Bolton/ENG) 18/2. Like U.S. fans, he looked really happy to get 10-plus  minutes in his first U.S. appearance since October, 2010.

(Ratings: 1-low; 5 average; 10-high.)

15 comments about "U.S. Report Card: Dempsey, Johnson are only bright spots".
  1. Jim Williams, May 30, 2013 at 5:53 a.m.

    I hate to say it but the teams we field these days remind me of the rag tag college kids we used to send into the lions den years ago before we had MLS. Out runned. Out gunned. A mess. This sport heeds help and needs it fast.

  2. Bruce Gowan, May 30, 2013 at 8:08 a.m.

    I am losing interest in the USMNT because the quality of play is so bad. The four backs who played last night were individually and as a group were very poor. Basic youth tactics were not executed - Keeper out everyone goes to goal, given the choice of defending the center or moving outside always stay central. These four backs did not do either of those. No effective attack because of bad passes and lack of possession. I can at least be proud of the WNT.

  3. Marilyn Oldham, May 30, 2013 at 8:45 a.m.

    The ratings are a joke. No one deserves a 6 and few deserve above a 3. This was a poor performance that looked more like high school players than a national team. Wild clearances to the opponent, missed passes, missed passing opportunities, incredibly poor defending - I could go on and on - all combined to create a hideous mess on the field. At times a couple of players looked afraid of the opponents to the point of giving up the ball without a real challenge. I feel sorry for Klinsmann because his work seems to be for naught. I can't even imagine how bad it will be against Germany. This kind of performance kills out hope.

  4. John Gompper, May 30, 2013 at 9:14 a.m.

    Unfortunately this coach has set the program back 4 decades. Jozy Altitore has trapping and passing skills only surpassed by any U-8 youth league player. What a joke.

  5. Luis Arreola, May 30, 2013 at 9:19 a.m.

    John, what program?? You mean the failed U17 residency program?? Or do you mean the strictly lets pick Academy kids only program?? Or the "lets worry about my next paycheck program"??

  6. Garrett Isacco, May 30, 2013 at 9:24 a.m.

    I don't care what kind of shape Landon Donavon is in (and he appears to be in good shape), he is better than any of our mid fielders last evening. Why is he not on this team?

  7. David Mont, May 30, 2013 at 9:43 a.m.

    Klinsmann is, of course, absolutely correct. We have lots of creative offensive players miles ahead of Donovan, and tons of central defenders way ahead of Bocanegra. And we need to thank the refs for keeping the score more or less respectable.

  8. beautiful game, May 30, 2013 at 11:04 a.m.

    How the Deuce merits a 6 rating when he was mostly a Houdini with the rest of the squad is laughable. FYI, Mr. Isacco, LD is one player, as I said in the past, put Messi and CR7 on the USMNT and they will labor because they wouldn't get the right service. Service and execution are key elements which the Deuce and Altidore et al rarely see.

  9. Vince Leone, May 30, 2013 at 12:53 p.m.

    Omar Gonzalez--what a joke.

  10. John Soares, May 30, 2013 at 12:55 p.m.

    Why is the coach never rated!? The guy deserves at least a 3! Too high!?

  11. Chris Sapien , May 30, 2013 at 1:39 p.m.

    I would bet we'll see the usual fire of desperation on display this Sunday! You know the one we usually see right after another aimless loss. Please put Boca and Dolo back on the DLine. Oh wait, they are neither fit nor playing, right Klinns........? Just for one game Nats, amuse me and carry the ball forward everytime there is open space in front of you!!! It's real simple, when you then face a challenge, an alert teammate can exploit the lane developed by the challenging defender, then either you beat your defender or you pass. Even when challeged you can still be successful. Why do we panic and submit to another passback?? It's almost Un-American.....

  12. Kent James, May 30, 2013 at 1:47 p.m.

    I think these ratings are pretty accurate. Dempsey should be a 5 at best (as I w Nowozeniuk accurately points out, he disappeared for long stretches of the game). I was impressed with Beasley's quickness and individual defensive skills. Cameron's not a right back (he's too slow); I'd go for Gonzalez and either Cameron or Besler in the center. Davis and Zusi did okay, but they are supporting players, not stars. We need Donovan (and more, but I'm not sure where the more is going to come from)....

  13. Alex G. Sicre, May 30, 2013 at 4:37 p.m.

    Sorry David, Klinsi is not absolutely correct and niether are you. You both have something against Donovan, but what? He is still young enough damned good enough to do what he has always done for the USMNT. Miles ahead of him, wow what planet do you live on? No comment on Boca.

  14. Stuart d. Warner, May 31, 2013 at 9:28 a.m.

    A few minutes into the game, Dempsey sends a beautiful cross to Altidore who, instead of finishing, muffs the chance. Two minutes later, Belgium scores. The back four had no coordination whatsoever, and, honestly, no quality. We will see Gonzalez and Besler together again on Sunday, and with luck they will have learned something from this game. Also, Bradley will play and he's a quality player. But the main problem is that we play so irritatingly slowly: it's always touch, look, touch, look again, and pass. A lesser problem, but still important, is that we exert no pressure from the wings. Zusi and Davis are nice players, but they are not fast, they don't take guys on, and thus they don't create an extra player on the field. I agree with several posters: regardless of Donovan's "condition," he needs to be on the team and on the field. There's a reason David Moyes kept wanting to bring him onto Everton: Donovan has pace, quality, and the moment is not too big for him. Altidore, on the other hand, shrivels up like a prune. One last thing: Eddie Johnson is proving his mettle: I really liked the way he took guys on and he actually can cross with his left foot. Don't be surprised if he plays on top on Sunday with his namesake (Fabian J) playing left mid.

  15. Chris Sapien , May 31, 2013 at 3:23 p.m.

    Agree Stuart, E. Johnson has to be on the field if for no other reason he is one of the guys who exhibits a real desire to score goals and put the ball in dangerous areas. Also, Altidore must be put on the shelf until he at least has some positive effect out there. Right now he gives us nothing. Bring in Herc and put him alongside Dempsey up top, with Eddie out wide Bradley up the middle, & Zusi (one last time as a starter) out right. Tell freakin' Graham to stay wide and beat somebody........

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