U.S. Report Card: Hero Evans shares highest grades

By Ridge Mahoney

Disappointment turned to elation Friday night when the USA conceded a late equalizer but then scored even later to snatch a 2-1 win over Jamaica in Kingston.

A staunch defensive display evaporated late when Jamaica scored on a header from a free kick, but Brad Evans replied with a neat touch and finish to reclaim three points.

Evans shared the highest grades with several players, including fellow goalscorer Jozy Altidore, as the Americans won in Kingston for the first time.

6 TIM HOWARD (Everton/ENG) 88/0. He punched away a fierce shot in the first half and was about to put the final polish on a very good night when he stood frozen as Jermaine Beckford popped up in the six-yard box to head the equalizer. It seemed to be a ball Howard could have dealt with. His direction and organization definitely helped the stifling U.S. defensive effort and he had no trouble picking his way through traffic when he needed to.

7 BRAD EVANS (Seattle Sounders) 10/1. The reason he plays so many positions is that he’s pretty good at just about everything: tracking, tackling, passing, heading, and as his crisp collection and shot showed, finishing. His determination and ruggedness were essential against similar opponents, who bested him on occasion but paid a heavy price for doing so. His storybook goal sets him up for a hero’s welcome in Seattle for the game with Panama Tuesday.

7 MATT BESLER (Sporting Kansas City) 5/0. A lot of calm, poised work blotted out the heroic and muscular efforts of the Jamaicans. Besler reacted quickest to clear the knockdowns and second balls supplied by Ryan Johnson, and he seldom let the powerful forward get into shooting range with the ball. His recovery and shoulder challenge to dislodge a ball from Beckford in a very dangerous situation was top-class defending.

6 OMAR GONZALEZ (Los Angeles Galaxy) 9/0. Rudolph Austin surprised him on a one-two and got in behind to clang a shot off the post, yet Gonzalez obliterated a scoring chance in the final minutes with a superb sliding tackle. He anticipated passes and crosses early enough to deal with many of them comfortably, though a couple were sloppily sent to opponents.

6 DAMARCUS BEASLEY (Puebla/MEX) 102/17. Jermaine Johnson had his way with Beasley a few too many times though tight marking and strong defending in the middle defused the serves he produced. Otherwise, Beasley gave a tremendous effort defensively, keyed in part by better starting positions when the ball turned over. There were few opportunities to get forward though he did push up into the middle third to help keep possession.

6 JERMAINE JONES (Schalke 04/GER) 31/2. Rather than being goaded into confrontations by rugged opponents, Jones stayed on message by winning tackles, claiming balls on double teams and passing smartly to keep Jamaica off-balance. He refrained from risky balls hit over distance and instead found the open man. A harsh collision forced him out of the game with a suspected concussion.

7 MICHAEL BRADLEY (Roma/ITA) 77/11. He grew in prominence when Jones left, assuming more influence in the attack by hitting wide balls to Zusi and finding alleys to supply Altidore. He failed to shut off a lane that Jamaica exploited to test Howard from about 25 yards out. Offensively, he hit the post with a low first-half shot and dragged another attempt wide, then in stoppage time waited patiently for the right moment to slip a pass for Evans to belt the winner.

7 GRAHAM ZUSI (Sporting Kansas City) 13/1. A great cross set up the first U.S. goal, but just as great were his series of fakes and touches to prise open a narrow opening to hit that serve Altidore headed home. He threatened several times on his flank yet with consistent defensive work might have played his most complete game for the USA. His foul in the final minutes turned out to be costly; Jamaica scored from the free kick and he’ll sit out the Panama game with his second caution.

5 FABIAN JOHNSON (Hoffenheim/GER) 13/0. A very hit-or-miss performance at both ends. He used many of his touches well during buildup play but rarely took advantage of space down his side. He veered inside sharply to find a shooting lane only to hit a weak effort. He occasionally helped Beasley against Johnson but also left his teammate stranded at times. The hamstring he tweaked against Germany may have caused his departure in the 76th minute.

6 CLINT DEMPSEY (Tottenham/ENG) 97/35. He didn’t get or see a lot of the ball but worked relentlessly to open up space and keep defenders occupied. Sometimes he played underneath his forward partner, at other times he stayed nearly level to give the USA a two-forward look. He looped a header just over the bar in the second half with an opponent right on him, and many of the U.S. possessions included a touch or two from Dempsey somewhere along the way.

7 JOZY ALTIDORE (AZ/NED) 58/15. In the last two games he seems to have found the same meld of timing and positioning that has brought him so many goals for his Dutch club. After losing an early goal to a tight offside decision, he timed his jump perfectly to bury Zusi’s cross. He didn’t slack off despite the heat; he was constantly pulling and dragging opponents through the goalmouth as they tracked his runs. And despite very physical marking, he rarely lost the ball.

6 GEOFF CAMERON (Stoke City/ENG). Pressed into emergency duty when Jones departed with a suspected concussion, Cameron used his experience as a central midfielder and center back to help the Americans tie up Jamaica in the middle. His passing contributed to long sequences of possession.

5 EDGAR CASTILLO (Club Tijuana/MEX) 9/0. Ignored a wide-open Jozy Altidore and chose to shoot poorly instead, but he worked some nice combinations though his tackling could have been stronger.

NR EDDIE JOHNSON (Seattle Sounders). Threatened the penalty area a couple of times before burning clock in the final minutes.

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

23 comments about "U.S. Report Card: Hero Evans shares highest grades".
  1. Gary Levitt, June 8, 2013 at 8:12 a.m.

    No Zusi or Jones in midfield v a very fit a rugged Panama side. JK's 11 for this game should be interesting.

  2. beautiful game, June 8, 2013 at 9:50 a.m.

    These ratings are absurd...Jamaica is a horrible squad...Jamaican mediocrity is should not be a basis for such outlandish ratings. The USMNT performance was spotty at best and mostly ineffective against an opponent who was fast on its feet, yet constantly late in its offensive counters until the last 5 minutes of regulation. As for the Deuce, a Houdini.

  3. Walt Pericciuoli, June 8, 2013 at 10:24 a.m.

    Ratings are inflated. Although I agree that Bradley deserved at least a 7 for the night.Worked hard, seldom got frustrated, kept possession and laid off great passes. Did seem to run down over the last 15 min. We give up too many easy goals or chances, especially right down the center.I don't see how Besler and Gonzales can be rated any better than 4's. Besides being beaten often, whenever they do come up with the ball, you can count on it being lumped upfield aimlessly and mindlessly.Need better in the central "D". That will be our weakness going forward unless these two guys show they will improve, which so far they have not.

  4. James Froehlich, June 8, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.

    Attention AT&T Uverse users --- still no access to Bein Sports !!!!!!!! ------call 1-800-288-2020

  5. Eric Schmitt, June 8, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.

    Typical haters (shaking head). Rip the team up when they lose, fail to give them any credit when they win. They were clearly the better team throughout and deserved the 3 points. When they conceded the equalizer they didn't give up, kept fighting, and produced a winner. Are their defensive issues still? Sure. But Jamaica is *far* from a horrible squad. Gonzales and Besler were *not* beaten often; they were beaten occasionally, which is still too often for comfort, but 4's would have been extremely harsh ratings for their performance. The goal at the moment is to qualify for the World Cup, and they are tied at the top of the group, second only on goal difference. They have the same points and goal difference as Mexico, who has played one more game than the USA have. The results seem to belie all the hating.

  6. Vince Leone, June 8, 2013 at 10:59 a.m.

    Omar does not deserve a 6. Once again, his mistake led to a goal. He is prone to stepping back when he should step up, leading to opportunities that others have to cover. He's also not good enough with his passing. How often have you seen him start an attack with an intelligent pass?

  7. Vince Leone, June 8, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.

    Zusi is playing himself into a starting spot in Brazil. Sure, his crossing is very good, but he also makes good decisions most of the time. We need more of that.

  8. Walt Pericciuoli, June 8, 2013 at 12:43 p.m.

    Eric, I am not a hater. Overall I thought the team played well and deserved the win. But, Jamaica had too many chances at our goal and with any luck finishing would have won the game.Which would not have been a deserved result based on how well the rest of our team played. I put the blame squarely on the central defenders.

  9. Walt Pericciuoli, June 8, 2013 at 12:49 p.m.

    Also, to be handing out 6 and 7 ratings all over the place, I would expect a 2 or 3- 0 scoreline and complete dominance over this weakened Jamaica team. What happened was a win we eked out thanks to a goal by our right side defender who somehow got into the box on the left side turned and fired a shot that rebounded off a defender into the side net all in injury time.
    We'll take the 3 points, but lets not fool ourselves.

  10. Paul Estrada, June 8, 2013 at 1:54 p.m.

    I agree, the ratings are always inflated here. Too many unforced giveaways is what constantly plagues the US side.

    The Jamaica goal was offside, though. Justice was served.

  11. Luis Arreola, June 8, 2013 at 4:14 p.m.

    Did Castillo zagain deserve the lowest score? He is playing at a very high level on the best team in Mexico and arguably one if the best teams on any of the Americas right now as an important starter.

  12. Charles Stamos, June 8, 2013 at 4:35 p.m.

    Agree that the defense didn't play better than 5's. Beasley beaten to the endline too many times, Omar letting his mark get goalside, unless the team was playing an offside trap, Howard stuck in no man's land, coming out would have been a risky play and sitting back lets the attacker pick which corner to shoot at. Offense, Bradley and Zusi play well and get nice assists, Evans and Altidore with great finishes. Overall, take the 3 points and head home thankfully that it didn't end in a tie.

  13. Kent James, June 8, 2013 at 4:48 p.m.

    I have two issues with the ratings. First, what is an "average" performance? A 5? A 7 (70%)? Second, how much should a win or a loss by the team affect the ratings of the individual players? In other words, if players play well but are outplayed by a superior opponent, will they have higher ratings than if they play poorly against a weaker opponent and win? Since the ratings are hard to make sense of on an absolute scale, I just compare them to players within the game. Perhaps Ridge could create a "team" score (looking at how the overall team performed relative to it's other performances), then the player scores for that game would vary from that. So if this game is given a "6" (decent performance against a weak opponent under somewhat difficult circumstances) players who got 7s played better than average, 6's average, and less than that below average. The final issue is should the player be rated according to an absolute level, or relative to their potential? For example, in this game Dempsey didn't play poorly, but didn't have the influence he's capable of having. So does he deserve the 6 Ridge gave him because even with a poor performance for him, he's one of the better players on the team, or a lower mark because he did not play up to his standards? I guess they'll never be perfect, but they did give us something to discuss....

  14. Edgar Aldana, June 8, 2013 at 10:33 p.m.

    I have to disagree about Castillo, he might do well with his team but has really not shown much on the USNMT. He was beat several times in the Germany game and that's just one example. He does have some offensive skills but its a trade off. The team needs someone more physical with skill and pace that can jump into the attack but the question is who.

  15. Luis Arreola, June 9, 2013 at 9:02 a.m.

    Edgar, you described several players on this team. Staring with Jozy, who everyone has shown extreme patience with. The only reason? Because of his play with his club. Castillo ppays in a better league on a better team and is an important player on that team.

  16. Luis Arreola, June 9, 2013 at 9:46 a.m.

    Here is our big problem in USA soccer. Our bar is set really low and we are happy with any result. We have little sense or want of progression. We celebrate any type of win no matter how bad we played. Our media, like evidenced here are reluctant at holding anyone in US soccer accountable for these results. Now let's look at Mexico, a supposedly more corrupt country. I watch their soccer news every time after a Mexico game. Mexico won and tied away games. The Mexican Media are tearing them up and I cant blame them. What is expected from this Mexico team is to win every game but more importantly to completely dominate everyone in the hex every game, home or away. That is the bar that they have set and the team is being held accountable for it. The Mexican Media do not seem to be at all scared of criticizing their National Soccer team like we are in USA, the country of free speech!!!

  17. Luis Arreola, June 9, 2013 at 9:53 a.m.

    After Mexico beat Jamaica, more than 1/2 the team was negatively critisized for their performance. Here we are dishing out great scores for a mediocre game. After Panama game the Mexican Media said that head coach should demand more from their players or give others the opportunity. Here we excuse their no shows or continue to hope for another to "catch on" or hope for another to come back to make a big difference. We must begin to set some kind of bar for our USMNT. Winning mediocre games or tying games by not even thinking of attacking should not be enough. Playing in snow where good soccer can not be appreciated should not be celebrated. Lets excercise the same free speech that Mexico Media seems to enjoy and hold our USMNt accountable.

  18. Walt Pericciuoli, June 10, 2013 at 9:19 a.m.

    Luis, I couldn't agree more. The bar by now,should be a lot higher here in the good old USA.If we don't expect more or demand more, then we'll never get more.This will be another cycle where we'll be happy to just squeak into the WC, and then be ecstatic if we get past the first round. Everyone at US Soccer will be patting themselves on the back and be expecting pay raises.While we suffer and have to wait another 4 years.I expect, after all the MONEY, time and effort put into our youth development program in the past 20 years, we should by now along with Mexico, be a dominate force in the CONCACAF qualifiers and EXPECTED to get to at least the final 8 at the WC.

  19. Rick Figueiredo, June 10, 2013 at 10:17 a.m.

    Since scoring a goal is the most important thing in this game, anyone who does so should start with a 7. So Evans and Altidore are at least 8's. Even if you do nothing else in the whole game, you have done a tremendous thing. Let's not forget to win a game you need to score goals.

  20. Luis Arreola, June 10, 2013 at 11 a.m.

    Walt, I spoke to a Mexico Pro team scout not too long ago. He said that Mexican teams are looking much harder at USA born players simply because most kids get onvolved into sports at a much earlier age here and therefore are physically stronger and more advanced plus the tecnical ability is mostly there because it's in their blood. This is something I had already concluded myself. He reassured it. That only tells us that we simply do not have our priorities right when it comes to National team results. There are way too many people dishing out excuses about how soccer is just picking up in USA and how we should get our best athletes to play soccer even though our current system actually turns away those very "athletes" they speak of. Meanwhile, Mexico & Central American players are having a field day with successful scouting in good old USA!!

  21. Chris Sapien , June 11, 2013 at 12:18 a.m.

    Yep, "having a field day" Luis, and to date none have ever progressed any farther than the US at the WC, including your beloved mexican side. What is your excuse for that fact? Even for you, this tired song and dance has to get old at some point. Let me remind everyone out there with a sound mind: NEWS FLASH! There are two teams out on the field, neither of which is about to lay down for the other! I don't consider that an indication of any supposed bar being set too low, and when did the media have anything to do with a successful national team program in the first place??? Really stupid comments.....Thanks to those who were in Kingston with us and at the glorious time in Denver, where us evil Americans conspired to make it snow. Put your money where your mouths are for once.

  22. Luis Arreola, June 11, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.

    Chris, Mexico just won U17 WC, U23 Olympics, 3rd place U20 WC, won Panam Olympics. This is exactly what I mean. How many more years will you and people like you hang their hat on what happened quite a while again and once?? So making it to quaerters is a good enough achievement for a country of our wealth, power and player pool?? That's mediocre at best. So as long as Mexico doesnt make it to quarters it's all good, right??!! That is truly a stupid comment but don't worry your not alone. There are 2 teams everywhere Chris. That was a smart comment!! I dont think Puerto Rico layed down to Spain either. The best team wins and establishes it's dominance over the other. A bar is set when something is achieved. So with your analogy our bar should be to never finish below quarterfinals in WC and always 1st in Concacaf Hex, right??

  23. Luis Arreola, June 11, 2013 at 11:54 a.m.

    The media should be the voice of concern of the fan base. The media in Mexico reflect the passion of a country and therefore the tolerance of mediocrity is very low. Same in Argentina, Brazil, Germany, etc. Remeber when USA lost in Basketball?? Was the media not critical at that point?? I ask you Chris, what is the bar for our USMNT ???

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