U.S. Player Ratings: Donovan dazzles against El Salvador

By Ridge Mahoney

Eddie Johnson came off the bench to score with his first touch and break open a tight game in which Landon Donovan scored one goal and set up the other four in a 5-1 defeat of El Salvador in the Gold Cup quarterfinals Sunday.

Donovan’s strong play throughout the match, despite his squandering of several scoring chances, pushed El Salvador into its own half for much of the 90 minutes. The insertion of Johnson produced a goal with his first touch and set in motion an unstoppable surge of attacks that produced two more goals, and another two or three would not have been undeserved.

The Americans have won nine straight games for the first time in the national team’s history heading into a Gold Cup semifinal match against Honduras in Dallas on Wednesday.

7 Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) 10/0. Incredible kick save on close-range shot by Mark Blanco and dive to stop follow-up Andres Flores’s attempt preserved a 1-0 U.S. lead. Rimando had few other tough shots to stop, yet he also sifted through traffic to claw tricky crosses and came off his line smartly to smother through balls. Couldn't use his prowess against penalty kicks to stop Rodolfo Zelaya's brazen 'Panenka.'

6 Michael Parkhurst (FC Augsburg/GER) 15/0. Nearly scored on a give-and-go with Donovan when his Dagoberto Portillo repelled his hard-hit shot, and his return flick to Donovan from a short corner kick led to the first U.S. goal. He worked some effective combinations with Joe Corona and the central mids. Defensively he was reasonably solid, though Zelaya cut past him en route to drawing a foul and a penalty kick.

6 Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes) 39/5. He slid forward during a short corner kick to stab home Donovan’s low ball into the six-yard box for the first goal. He seemed unbalanced occasionally by the speed and assertiveness of Zelaya and Blanco, and during El Salvador’s brief push for an equalizer he had to scramble a few times.

5 Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) 12/0. Matched up well with Zelaya and Blanco, had a bit of trouble adjusting to Kevin Santamaria in the second half but eventually got the measure of him as well. Didn’t launch many long balls, preferring instead to either play short balls or swing the ball along the back line.

5 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX) 107/17. Ranged updfield effectively in the first half to drive in crosses and play penetrating passes on the ground. Took a nasty hit that he needed a few moments to recover from. Like many of his teammates, he got caught up in frantic moments and his play suffered for a period of time. He threw a body block on Rodolfo Zelaya to provide El Salvador with its penalty kick, a blatant foul for which he fortunately was not cautioned.

6 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR) 8/2. Made up for missing an early chance by tucking away Donovan’s feed for the fifth goal. Relayed numerous balls out wide and through the middle into good spots, dug into tackles also while screening the back line. Occasionally lost track of Richard Menjivar yet tightened his grip on the middle as the U.S. took command in the second half.

7 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 29/1. Started the match a bit scruffily with a few misplaced passes and slow reactions, then secured the center for long stretches by tackling strongly and passing sharply. Hit two long-distance shots that forced lunging saves, though he also fired one from a great spot right into the keeper’s fists. From rather deep positions hit a few superb deep balls to the flanks to open up attacking lanes.

7 Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX) 9/2. Scored a nice goal from the top of the arc when set up by Chris Wondolowski, and took a lot of balls at the Salvadoran defense that set up crosses or diagonal balls into the goalmouth. Moved into space out wide on the right to open up that channel for teammates. Also worked hard defensively and kept tabs on William Romero but got caught upfield on a couple of Salvadoran counters.

6 Jose Torres (UANL/MEX) 25/0. A lot of work off the ball and on the defensive side helped the U.S. keep its shape and use its possession efficiently. He may have set a personal record for tackles. Left-footed deliveries on set plays didn’t produce any goals but were well-struck, and he occasionally floated out to the touchline and tested the Salvadorans with outswingers.

9 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 149/54. Managed to play a great game despite failing to convert three excellent scoring opportunities, which shows just how incisive and dangerous he was nearly every time he touched the ball in the Salvadoran half. Took his goal well with a clean trap and expert finish of Eddie Johnson’s flick on, and stamped his mark on the other four goals. His corner kick to Johnson provided the clinching third goal, on two others he provided the final pass, and his dribble through the left channel set up Corona’s goal.

5 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 15/6. Didn’t get on the end of much service, but performed adequately with his movement and hold-up play. On one sequence he held the ball under pressure on the left side and sent a square pass that just failed to produce a shot. He earned an assist by relaying Donovan’s pass to Corona.

7 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) 54/16. Got his head into the game right away by powering home Donovan’s corner kick with his first touch, and nodded on a long ball to set up L.D. for fourth U.S. goal.

6 Brek Shea (Stoke City/ENG) 21/1. Drove up the wing to test the Salvadoran defense with crosses and short balls to feet, also got forward during buildup play to occupy opponents.

5 Michael Orozco (Puebla/MEX) 9/2. Comfortably handled the mop-up work required as El Salvador floundered in search of a consolation goal.

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

17 comments about "U.S. Player Ratings: Donovan dazzles against El Salvador ".
  1. jeff tackett, July 21, 2013 at 11:53 p.m.

    Rimando only a 7?? Come on...he was a easy 9 with not only the great saves but the distribution to start counter attacks and balls played back to his feet and placed perfectly to his team...a bit harsh in my opinion

  2. Kent James, July 22, 2013 at 12:03 a.m.

    I'm starting to like Beckerman. I've always thought he was good as a bulldog-type defender in midfield, but I've always seen him as an offensive liability. But today, he really made a number of excellent passes (and some excellent shots as well). It was nice to see EJ score (and that's got to be one of the quickest goals since coming on; makes JK look like a genius, and in this game, he was). I do think EJ is better as a forward than as a midfielder. I think Corona also had a strong game; I had heard about him, but hadn't been that impressed, but these last 2 games he's demonstrated he's a quality player. It was nice to see so many quality goals from the US (the EJ flick to Landon was about as textbook as you get...). Wondo had a quiet game (for the 2nd time as a starter); he may be better as a sub, coming in when it gets scrappy in front of goal (or when we need more of an aerial attack).

  3. Edgar Aldana, July 22, 2013 at 2:04 a.m.

    My gosh, we win and all of a sudden everyone gets high ratings, really! These ratings are a joke, Shea who comes in for a bit in the second half gets the same rating that Torres who played most of the game! Beckerman gets a 7 and Corona who seems to have done more gets the same and those are just a few examples. I think I'd have more respect for this writer if he just wouldn't post these ridicules player ratings.

  4. Scott O'Connor, July 22, 2013 at 5:47 a.m.

    Frankly, while one can nitpick the ratings based on their viewing of the game, I found them pretty accurate from the game I watched. Some guys might have deserved a point more or less than they got but nobody was egregiously mis-rated.

  5. charles davenport, July 22, 2013 at 8:05 a.m.

    My personal highlight(wish I had it on tape): Zelaya beating four American defenders running across the top of the box, drawing the foul on Beasley for El Salvador's lone goal. Can the premier league be in this guy's future? Where is he playing now?

  6. charles davenport, July 22, 2013 at 8:09 a.m.

    With four goals in the Gold Cup -- including a penalty kick that he earned and converted on a Panenka -- Zelaya is the competition's third-leading scorer. Only the USA's Chris Wondolowski and Panama's Gabriel Torres have more goals, with each player netting five times. Plays for Allianza in El Salvador.

  7. Scott Burchfield, July 22, 2013 at 9:16 a.m.

    At the risk of being heckled, what is GP/G?

  8. Ginger Peeler, July 22, 2013 at 9:28 a.m.

    GP/G=games played/goals

  9. Scott O'Connor, July 22, 2013 at 9:53 a.m.

    Zalaya is owned by Allianza but is on loan playing in Russia for now.

  10. Walt Pericciuoli, July 22, 2013 at 9:54 a.m.

    Great game for all. Even the subs contributed to the over-all dominating performance of the US "Team".I agree with Edgar though, ratings are meaningless. How do you compare players that played 70-90 min to players that come off the bench for short stints?

  11. Scott Burchfield, July 22, 2013 at 10:23 a.m.

    Thanks Ginger, that's what I thought, but didn't want to make and assumption.

  12. Thomas Hosier, July 22, 2013 at 10:47 a.m.

    Donovan a 9 ... heck yeah! It was a pleasure to watch our guys playing well and kicking grass. See you at the pitch!

  13. Hal Conen, July 22, 2013 at 10:49 a.m.

    Like Kent. I've up to now not been that impressed with Beckerman's offense. I thought of him as a poor man's Gattuso. However I must say I was impressed with his multiple shots on goal that a were hard driven and kept low. We've all seen so many long range shots, even at the highest levels, that sail way over the crossbar. So I am also starting to warm up to this now poor man's Gattuso / Giuseppe Rossi (precise and not shy at long range).

  14. I w Nowozeniuk, July 22, 2013 at 10:55 a.m.

    "Nice goal by Corona.(?)" It was more than nice. It was skill and patience that was well executed. Most other players would have hit the ball first time into the defender whom Corona faked out of his shoes.

  15. I w Nowozeniuk, July 22, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.

    Hal, you mention Gattuso and Rossi in the same breath. These two players are miles apart in technical skills and ability to score and set up teammates. As for Beckerman, he still has a long way to go.

  16. Chris Sapien , July 22, 2013 at 3:51 p.m.

    IMO, the way to judge ratings is not to compare a Subbing Johnson 7, to a Starting Torres 6. Rather it is a rating for ONLY the time they actually played, and the occurrences that go along with the time. Because of that, I can't really put up an argument with the ratings, although Wondo's number seems directly related to his involvement vs. bad play. (not exactly something you have complete control over) And Beasley's number seems more about his foul in the area vs. overall play. For those who feel all of a sudden everyone is rated high because of the rout, the average player rating is only 6.2. Hardly stellar.

  17. Hal Conen, July 22, 2013 at 5 p.m.

    Nowozeniuk, yes, long way to go ergo "poor man's." Poor man's Gattuso for his hard nosed work ethic and hustle on defense. Poor man's Rossi for his recent long range shots (which Rossi is not shy about) that he was able to keep low line drives with plenty of pace.

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