U.S. Report Card: Donovan and Holden impress

By Paul Kennedy

The USA tuned up for the Gold Cup with a 6-0 over Guatemala. It got particularly strong performances from Landon Donovan and Stuart Holden, who are both trying to play themselves back into the team after long layoffs.

U.S. Starters
5 Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) 7/0.
In his first appearance in almost 18 months, Rimando had little to do against a team that didn't put a shot on goal.

5 Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg/GER) 12/0. Didn't often attack down the right side. Beaten at the end line on one of the few Guatemalan threats in the second half.

6 Clarence Goodson (Brondby/DEN) 36/4. Scored on the second bite of the apple after being denied at short range on great chance he created for himself. Had powerful header off Corona corner kick in the first half.

5 Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting/POR) 67/6. Showed rustiness after long layoff. Lost ball to Minor Lopez on one of the few dangerous moments for the USA in the first half. Won initial header on play that resulted in Goodson's goal.

7 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX) 104/17. Appointed captain for the Gold Cup, Beasley set the tone with an energetic performance from beginning to end. Was involved in second goal that started second-half rout.

5 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 26/1. Played the more defensive role in midfield during his 45-minute stint with Torres. Had to cover when Minor Lopez broke free between Goodson and Onyewu early in the game.

6 Jose Torres (Tigres/MEX) 21/0. After a bad giveaway early in the game, Torres settled down. Saw a lot of the ball in the first half and played perfectly flighted ball that found Gomez at far post for the first goal.

7 Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) 145/51. Started the game on the right side of midfield but later switched roles with Corona and moved into the middle of the attack. Scored a penalty kick after he was pushed down in the box and added a second goal on a volley off a cross from Holden. Showed off open-field moves when he cut across the field to slot the ball into the penalty area that deflected off a Guatemalan defender for Wondolowski to put away.

6 Edgar Castillo (Tijuana/MEX) 11/0. Jurgen Klinsmann has been preaching his players to use the wings to break down opponents that like to defend with numbers, and Castillo did a job working with Beasley to create chances down left side. Also started play that resulted in first goal.

6 Joe Corona (Tijuana/MEX) 5/0. Started the game in Clint Dempsey's role as the second forward playing behind Gomez up front, but he came into the game when he switched roles with Donovan. Showed Dempsey-like ability off the ball with his run that helped free Gomez for opening goal. Played great ball that Donovan volleyed straight at Jerez. Won 50-50 ball that Gomez then played into the area for the Donovan penalty. Also worked hardly defensively.

6 Herculez Gomez (Tijuana/MEX) 22/6. Started the game as the lone striker and opened the scoring when he fired home Torres' cross at the far post. Showed mobility when he drifted wide to play in cross that resulted in the penalty for a foul on Donovan in the area.

U.S. Subs:
7 Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers/ENG) 18/2. Did everything but score -- and almost did that with long-range shot shortly after he entered the game. Played a beautifully chipped ball Donovan out away for his second goal and put Shea free on play that led to sixth goal.

6 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR) 4/1. Won a lot of balls in midfield to get the U.S. attack going in the second half.

6 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 12/1. Scored his first international goal with the easiest of chances. Also nudged ball on that Holden played to Donovan for USA's fourth goal.

6 Alejandro Bedoya (Helsingborg/SWE) 15/1. Had a rather quiet game until he came forward to put away sixth goal in 88th minute.

6 Brek Shea (Stoke City/ENG) 17/0. In what will be his only appearance of the summer before returning to Stoke City, Shea caused havoc for the Guatemalans with his size and speed on left wing. Finally rewarded for his efforts when cross found Bedoya for sixth goal.

4 Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo) 2/0. Saw fair amount of the ball as the USA started to run up the score but he would probably like some of touches back.

(1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)
14 comments about "U.S. Report Card: Donovan and Holden impress".
  1. David Mont, July 6, 2013 at 9:01 a.m.

    What's the point of the rating if almost everyone is rated about the same?

  2. I w Nowozeniuk, July 6, 2013 at 10:10 a.m.

    Pretty poor ratings based on the opposition's performance...too many giveaways by both squads...first half tempo looked comatose; didn't watch second half based on the mediocrity of the first 45'.

  3. Eric Schmitt, July 6, 2013 at 10:32 a.m.

    I would switch ratings of Donovan and Diskerud. Donovan spent most of the first half looking a little lost, frankly, and he may not have been worthy of more than a 5. His passes were not crisp or accurate. He warmed up quite a bit in the 2nd half when he was moved into the middle. Holden and Diskerud *owned* the game in the 2nd half. They dominated in pace, possession, and distribution.

  4. Albert Harris, July 6, 2013 at 11:26 a.m.

    So Mr. Nowozeniuk, you didn't watch the 2nd half because of the poor play, yet you have no trouble criticizing the ratings. In a comment after the match recap in today's SA, you criticize Donovan for dropping like a sack of cement to get a penalty. Which is it? Did you watch the whole match or not? Or are you simply one of the "Landy haters" who would find something to criticize in his performance if he scored a hat trick against Brazil in the World Cup final? I actually agree with Eric's comment about Landon perhaps being better rated as a 6 than a 7, but reasonable people may differ. At least I think he watched the whole match. I know I did.

  5. Scott O'Connor, July 6, 2013 at 12:14 p.m.

    If you didn't watch the 2nd half, you missed the game. The Holden-Diskerud midfield combo flipped the switch and ignited the team forward. Beckerman and Torres looked more dejected than the Guatemalans at the end of the game since their replacements absolutely carved open the Guatemalan defense creating uncountable opportunities for the attacking players. Holden and Diskerud should start against Belize. Beckerman and Torres were far too negative in their passing. Holden was pushing the team forward with searching balls from the midfield. As the summary said "he did everything but score". Stu deserved an 8. His play was as good as Michael Bradley's would have been. A solid backup to Mr. Bradley for the Brazil squad.

  6. soccer talk, July 6, 2013 at 12:20 p.m.

    I only caught the second 1//2, but was pleased
    W/ the play from front to back, even though
    The opponent was overwhelmed. Exciting to see all the goals, but would have preferred a more level match. Great to see LD back

  7. I w Nowozeniuk, July 6, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.

    Al, FYI, I watched the video of all second half goals, and again I'm convinced LD took a dive. As for saying that I'm a LD basher,I beg to differ. I do think that he too often did Houdini acts in the past; however, not since his sabbatical.

  8. Mike Terich, July 6, 2013 at 3:27 p.m.

    I was at the game sitting behind Rimanso's goal in the second half, so I was able to see the play develop from Holden & Mixx's perspectives. They look great inside the stadium. Everything they did was dangerous & positive, far different from what we saw from Beckerman & Torres. Also, Shea, who is not one of my favorite players, actually looked dangerous. Fun game to see live & good crowd. However, LOTS of people were turned away at the gate & told the game was sold out despite having thousands of empty seats in sections that USSF inexplicably weren't selling?!

  9. Chris Morris, July 6, 2013 at 4:28 p.m.

    Also at the game and agree with Mike above, very good live atmosphere esp. considering this was a friendly. The Donovan PK call looked valid to those in our group as he was about to go up to head the ball when fouled. In the early going Donovan was isolated on the wing, not getting the ball. Once he moved inside he began to influence the game and the tempo picked up in general. The issue with Beckerman/Torres is not that they were poor but that their approach was a bit cautious and passive given the nature of the game. Holden and Diskerud from the outset were aggressive and attack-minded. The current situation of course is different with LD and Holden in that they are have a chance to become starters for the next round of qualifiers whereas most of the others are simply trying to play their way onto the squad.

  10. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis, July 6, 2013 at 6:41 p.m.

    Rimando may not have had much to do, but he did more than he should have. What was he doing so far out of the box, when his defender had the ball covered. The near-collision Rimando produced by this poor exercise of judgment could easily have been the break a coughing Guatemalan side needed to notch a goal. Give him a 4, not a 5.

    And give Bruin a 5, not a 4: debutants must be expected to be more nervous and tentative in their first 10 or 15 minutes on the pitch; being so is expected, and so average --- a 5.

  11. Bill Anderson, July 6, 2013 at 11:36 p.m.

    The biggest switch came in the second half when Shea and Bedoya came in on the wings. That opened up space for Diskerud and Holden in the middle (give that just a little thought before you shame Beckermann and Torres). In fact the first half was played without a right mid at all because Donovan abandoned his position in search of service beyond our forward line. Parkhurst was left patrolling the entire right side by his lonesome, as Donovan didn't do any defensive work at all. This also pinned Beckermann even deeper into the defensive third of the field.

  12. Bill Anderson, July 6, 2013 at 11:39 p.m.

    Don't get me wrong, I think Donovan actually played a great second half. Switched to a forward role with no defensive responsibilities, he was a real attacking threat. Add in the great runs by Shea down the left side, and the Guats were unable to withstand the pressure. Mix and Stu were outstanding providing service to the wings and helping push the team forward on the attack. Donovan was looking 5 years younger, running at the Guatemalan defense.

  13. Bill Anderson, July 6, 2013 at 11:43 p.m.

    Rimando, Gooch, and Goodson (Larry, Curly, and Moe). You can't blame Rimando too much for over-reacting to any ball put in behind Gooch and Goodson. Gooch is slow and awkward/clumsy, while Goodson is slow and physically weak in the tackle. Rimando was scared to death. On the other hand, he continually put those two in danger by over compensating for their known and documented faults.

  14. Mike Terich, July 7, 2013 at 3:54 p.m.

    I didn't say Beckerman/Torres were poor, but I did highlight the fact that Mixx/Stu were "positive & dangerous" in their offensive play. Although, Torres did lose the ball easier than will be allowable against better competition. Beckerman is fine at what he does, but all the simple horizontal & back passes sometimes get frustrating, especially when his partner isn't playing more attacking.

    I agree on the Rimando, Gooch, Goodsen analysis, let's hope their Vaudeville routine was due to lack of time together & lack of urgency against an overmatched opponent. I would LOVE to see Gooch show something in this GC and get his career back on track.

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