U.S. Player Ratings: Central stalwarts carry U.S. to Gold Cup title

By Ridge Mahoney

The USA controlled most of the play in beating Panama, 1-0, Sunday on a Brek Shea goal to win the 2013 Gold Cup final in Chicago, and the spine of its team deserves much of the credit.

Solid performances throughout the lineup meant a quiet afternoon for keeper Nick Rimando. Centerbacks Matt Besler and Clarence Goodson throttled the Panamanian attackers, and central mids Kyle Beckerman and Mix Diskerud functioned smoothly individually and in tandem.

Brek Shea scored right off the bench for the second time in this tournament, poking home an Alejandro Bedoya cross that Landon Donovan missed just 42 seconds after his entry.

5 Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) 12/0. He was rarely tested with either shots or crosses, thanks to resolute work by the field players. Cleaned up the few balls that came his way and gave the crowd a thrill by nailing a pass from near his own goal line right to a teammate about 40 yards away.

6 Michael Parkhurst (FC Augsburg/GER) 17/0. Containing Alberto Quintero is no easy task, and though the Panamanian winger did threaten on occasions, Parkhurst’s work rate and defensive savvy played a major role in shutting down Panama’s attack. He overlapped more frequently in the second half and on the U.S. goal provided time and space for Alejandro Bedoya by looping outside him.

7 Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes) 41/5. Blotted out just about everything the Panamanians launched into the goalmouth with a dominant aerial performance that all but neutralized Blas Perez. He ran down a couple of balls over the top comfortably. Goodson came up complaining to the referee about a jersey grab after he’d glanced a U.S. free kick wide. On the ball he launched a couple of great crossfield passes to the opposite wing.

7 Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) 14/0. He gave the Panamanians something to think about when he neatly evaded a tackle in his defensive third just seconds into the game. A ball down the flank to Marcos Sanchez caught him upfield -- maybe a blown offside trap? -- but that was his only shaky moment. He stepped into tackles confidently, trapped a partial clearance to hit a shot that was blocked, and hit a few nice balls up the channel for Corona and Johnson to work with.

6 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX) 109/17. His energy and work rate quelled most of what Panama sent down his side, though a rare Panamanian chance resulted early in the game when Sanchez stripped him of the ball to hit a cross that Besler cleared spectacularly. Sanchez also easily knocked him over on a dribble in the Panamanian half, but for the most part his runs forward were well-timed and his passing more than adequate.

7 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 31/1. Stayed a step ahead of the Panamanians throughout the match, reading their passes shrewdly to intercept and playing a variety of first-time balls that kept them chasing. Without serving up a killer assist or stinging the keeper’s gloves, as he’d done previously in this competition, he set a midfield tempo that enabled the U.S. to dominate possession.

NR Stuart Holden (Bolton/ENG) 23/3. Can be forgiven for skying his shot from outside the box yet badly overhit two balls for teammates moving into good positions. Tweaked his right knee while trying to avoid Alberto Quintero and had to come off midway through the first half.

6 Alejandro Bedoya (Helsingborg/SWE) 19/1. Deployed on the right side of midfield, he twice cut inside to shoot with his left foot unsuccessfully before serving a ball that eluded several opponents as well as Donovan before Brek Shea poked it in. He gave good effort defensively, helping with double-teams and running hard to close down the flank.

5 Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX). Switched to the left side of midfield, Corona provided a few threatening moments but wasn’t incisive enough. He rarely found enough space to deliver an effective cross and he needed some time recover when he and Leonel Parris banged heads dueling for a high ball. At times Sanchez got the best of him to deliver balls into dangerous areas.

6 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 151/56. Fired a near-post header wide from a Beasley cross, whiffed on a sitter that fortunately Shea tucked away, and couldn’t find a shooting angle when Shea slipped a ball to him near the penalty area. He served up good free kicks that Goodson, tangled up with an opponent, and Bedoya glanced wide of the post. He was called for a foul on Quintero that probably wasn’t and nearly connected on a one-two with Johnson that was cut out. As is his wont, he caused the opponent more problems than anyone else.

5 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) 56/17. In an interesting tactical move, Johnson roamed very wide at times to add muscle to both flanks. He didn’t break through often but the extra man forced Panama to overshift and disrupted its shape. Johnson also checked back a lot from central positions, though he usually kept the ball moving with a return pass rather than turn and run at his marker. He squandered a great chance to ice the game by firing Shea’s bouncing cross over the bar.

7 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR) 10/2. Upped his stock again with a determined, assertive display when forced into the match for Holden. Took the ball at goal to earn a free kick a few yards outside the penalty area, and drove a ball wide for Beasley to cross and Donovan to head wide. He cleverly killed a potential Panamanian counter by fouling Gabriel Torres in midfield. His reads need to be sharper but he covers a lot of ground.

6 Brek Shea (Stoke City/ENG) 23/2. Owes Bedoya a sitter after nudging his goal-bound strike into the net from a foot out, and he delivered a raking cross that Johnson somehow blazed over the bar from point-blank range.

NR Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles) 12/0. A few token minutes probably won’t make Galaxy coach Bruce Arena feel any better about losing him for a week; he won a ball in the air as the clock wound down.

(Ratings: 1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)
25 comments about "U.S. Player Ratings: Central stalwarts carry U.S. to Gold Cup title".
  1. Kent James, July 29, 2013 at 1:03 a.m.

    I thought Corona was pretty effective on the ball, and was surprised by his substitution. It seems a bit unfair that Rimando played essentially a perfect game (no mistakes) and even coolly changed the direction of a pass on his own goal line with a Panamanian bearing down him so that he could strike a great ball down the other flank, and he only gets a 5. Gonzales only played a few minutes, but he did clear at least 3 or 4 of Panama's desperate balls launched into the defense, so he was actually quite effective (but I'm sure Arena is pissed...). EJ also played a pretty good game against some very tough defenders (though he did miss Shea's cross, that doesn't seem sufficient to make him a 5). The Panamanian defense was quite effective, but the boys got it done, congratulations USMNT!

  2. Hector Alzando, July 29, 2013 at 1:06 a.m.

    Gonzalez was huge in the last frantic minutes. I think he played a total of just over 4 minutes, but cleared 3-4 ball in that time and the Panamanians really never had a good look after he came on. That was an excellent substitution.

  3. Steven McDonald, July 29, 2013 at 2:05 a.m.

    Thought it was a great match. The U.S. really played well. Especially after Diskerud came on for Holden. He and Beckerman really made the difference for me. Feel sorry about Holden's injury
    but have never rated him ahead of other two. Rimando did what he needed. Wish he was younger and a little taller because I really enjoy watching him in goal. I think Goodson surprised me and may have put himself in consideration for the first team. Would have preferred to see Torres starting in place of Bedoya. Personally think he could have opened things up more for the forwards. Bedoya came thru on the goal but he seems to disappear for long stretches of the match. Really like Corona. EJ and Donovan struggled but Panama really played well . Looking and pressing for the U.S. to make a mistake that never came. They are set up to play a stifling hi pressure defense constantly looking for a counter opportunity. But our boys stood firm.

  4. My Name, July 29, 2013 at 5:30 a.m.

    Kent is right. EJ did miss two good scoring chances, but he did keep the ball in play in the sequence that eventually led to the goal.

    I love the footwork of Rimando--just amazing!

    Gonzalez definitely headed at least three balls and deserved a rating of +6 even for the four minutes of play.

    I would have preferred to see Torres start. With Torres' left foot and Donovan's right foot on set pieces, it's much more difficult to defend against USMNT. Furthermore, you know that Brek Shea is coming in at 65 minutes. It is better to replace left footed Torres with left footed Shea and keep Corona as an option later in games. Corona has shown he can score from 18 yards, so he is a good option to have late in close games.

    I think if Torres was in on the left, EJ could have settled more centrally. When we see EJ over on the side too much, he is being wasted. One reason EJ was on the sides so often is that Beasley was concentrating on defense and unable to come forward as much this game.

    I have to give credit to Beckerman. He was the man of the match this game.

  5. I w Nowozeniuk, July 29, 2013 at 8:27 a.m.

    Team effort; vg patience and simplicity of play and possession. Panama relied too much on counters and showed no offensive intensity. IMHO, no individual player stood out, the U.S. team effort did its job. Shea takes glory and did put one on a platter for E.J. who lost concentration. The team rating should be a 6.

  6. Eric Schmitt, July 29, 2013 at 9:05 a.m.

    Goodson was a beast. He owned Blas Perez. He was positioned well throughout the match, wasn't afraid to be physical, strong in the air; a fantastic match for him.

  7. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis, July 29, 2013 at 9:43 a.m.

    On a slightly different topic -- a fairly trivial one, I admit, but one that I am constantly made aware of by the lack of editing capabilities at SoccerAmerica -- this sentence:

    "Brek Shea scored right off the bench for the second time in this tournament, poking home an Alejandro Bedoya cross that Landon Donovan missed just 42 seconds after his entry."

    Are there no English majors at SoccerAmerica? Does no one understand that Mahoney has said here that it was Donovan who had just come into the match, instead of Shea?

    And BTW, Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan should each be rated at least one number higher.

  8. Daniel Clifton, July 29, 2013 at 10:59 a.m.

    I have to agree with My Name that Torres should have started on he left. Corona looked a little lost on that side and the corner kicks are definitely more effective with LD and Torres working together.

  9. Wolfgang Wostl, July 29, 2013 at 11:54 a.m.

    73% possession and very few shots on goal is a problem. We need fewer square and back passes and more attacking passes. The players up front need to get more open to allow such passes.

  10. Carl Walther, July 29, 2013 at 12:04 p.m.

    Wow, a country of 320 million people, beat a country of 30 million. Must be good for the ego.

  11. Scott O'Connor, July 29, 2013 at 12:47 p.m.

    Can't argue with the ratings. Goodson, Besler, and Beckerman (as much as I hate to admit it about KB) were very good. Hats off to Panama. They were clearly the 2nd best team in this tournament. It was an ugly game but I actually enjoyed watching it. It was a dominant performance with 75% possession. Panama never even got a sniff on the goal. We contained Quintero and Perez. This team does whatever it needs to do to win. I love that. That will pay dividends down the road when they face world-wide opponents with different tactics and styles. Just win baby. It'll be interesting to see how the A team responds when they play their friendly in Europe next month. Several dudes are breathing down their necks and they better step up and give 110% or they could be riding the pine in Brazil.

  12. Scott O'Connor, July 29, 2013 at 12:56 p.m.

    Carl Walther, the population is pretty irrelevant. Most of our top athletes are playing other sports. Basketball and American Football take most of our best athletes from soccer. Baseball takes some, although looking at the physical condition of baseball players, not a big loss for most of them. Hockey might take some too (probably a bigger issue for Canadian soccer, however). Once more of our superior athletes start taking up soccer, then you can complain about how big our population is. For that matter why aren't China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (#1,2,4,6 & 8, respectively) top soccer powers?

  13. Vince Leone, July 29, 2013 at 1:01 p.m.

    I think the rating for EJ is a little high. Besides missing the sitter, he did not help maintain possession after the U.S. scored. He gave the ball away unnecessarily several times as a result of bad touches or bad decisions (trying to beat multiple defenders from a standing position when he could have escaped the pressure by retreating with the ball). Finally, initiating the scuffle at the end is exactly the kind of bonehead stuff the U.S. cannot afford and that he is prone to.

  14. Vince Leone, July 29, 2013 at 1:07 p.m.

    Carl Walther: Maybe you've forgotten that Uruguay (population 3.3 million) reached the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup.

  15. Chris Sapien , July 29, 2013 at 1:59 p.m.

    I too thought Klinns might have missed the mark by not going with what had worked so well (?), that being Torres out left Donovan and Johnson up top and Corona right. Bedoya didn't need to be rewarded quite like he was for his two assists in the semi. It appears to me Klinns was wishful that Holden would create, even though during his tournament time he was inconsistent at best. Thought Diskerud should have played the creative mid role, especially since he was well rested and stronger on the ball vs bigger challengers. Thought Parkhurst was the unsung hero when all was said and done this GC. Goodson is definitely top three USA CDs! Surprised no one has mentioned the cross Shea jacked-up when everyone was yelling to one time it far post with his RIGHT FOOT !! He did redeem himself with the tap-in though.

  16. Rich Blast, July 29, 2013 at 2:11 p.m.

    I didn't think Corona was very effective at all this game. I would have gave Corona a 3. Bedoya passed up 2 good opportunities with his right to force the ball to his left, I would have rated his play lower. Rest seem pretty accurate except Gonzales was great in his very limited time.

  17. Chris Connelly, July 29, 2013 at 3 p.m.

    It seems most people either view Brek Shea as either so-so skill with inconsistent flashes of talent, or undeveloped potential that could turn him into a top level player. Klinnsman seems justifiably on the fence, but for anyone feeling strongly Shea is the latter must be concerned that with any flare-up when he is on the pitch you can be certain he is seconds away from being in the middle of it. Had this game gone another minute, or if the AR had paid more attention, I would not have been surprised to see Shea sent off. Johnson was stupid to get caught up in an end-of-the-game scrap when protecting a one goal lead, but Shea joining in and then keeping the heat up until the final whistle shows me that regardless of skill his temper will relegate him to being a lower level team cast-off.

  18. James Madison, July 29, 2013 at 4:56 p.m.

    Even with a bonus point for his tap-in, Shea should have gotten no more than a 5. Maybe a point off that for his stupic intervention in the Johnson row. Johnson should wake up and realize that the ball is meant to be alive. He repeatedly killed attacks by receiving the ball and then sitting on it. Otherwise the marks are about right, and Beckerman's man of the match selection was well-deserved.

  19. Bruce Moorhead, July 29, 2013 at 4:58 p.m.

    Chris Sapien: silly you, Shea doesn't have a right foot! It's a problem. Chris Connelly: agree, Shea's temper makes me nervous (as with Jermaine Jones). that being said, he scored two big gala and deserved an assist that EJ messed up. Shea needs regular playing time in England.

  20. Bruce Gowan, July 29, 2013 at 7:53 p.m.

    Emotional control is not a strong point for EJ. I expected some acting out on his part when he missed the 4 yd open goal. I have seen him play since he was 13 here in Florida.

    My second comment has to do with our failure to breakdown the excellent bunker defense. Rather than kick the ball around after the defense was set we needed to take the defense apart with 1v1 dribble drives.

  21. Bill Anderson, July 29, 2013 at 8:03 p.m.

    Shea became the second youngest player to score in a Gold Cup Final. He scored in 1-O victories against Costa Rica and Panama. He assisted the goal in the 1-0 victory in Mexico. Whatever does Klinsmann see in this kid? LOL

  22. I w Nowozeniuk, July 29, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.

    Mr. Connolly is quite perceptive as to the maturity of Shea and EJ. IMHO, both are borderline on maturity and very inconsistent on the pitch. No quality club or national team will put such inconsistent players on their roster except us.

  23. Bill Anderson, July 29, 2013 at 10:46 p.m.

    Really? Nobody will put those players on their rosters? Balotelli, Neymar, Rooney, Ibrahimovich, these players are "mature" That is rich...

  24. Paul Stierle, July 30, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.

    We get to dig deep in our comments as we have more depth to talk about. I an really behind our coach more than I was and how he continues to add to our puzzle of players and take chances to open up the game. This Gold Cup brought on more goals than ever and increased the dilemma of who will be on the roster for Brazil. Panama had a good team regardless of population and speaking of population Costa Rica is the biggest soccer nation based on that according of stats. Go USA

  25. Mark Grody, July 30, 2013 at 11:29 p.m.

    Bill, really, EJ & Shea

    EJ is like 30.

    And, even if Shea does reach his potential (I'm on the I doubt it side of the argument) he won't be even close to the Balotelli, Neymar, Rooney, or Ibrahimovich.

    (I know you didn't say EJ & Shea are as good, but the players you mention way tip the risk/reward equation to inclusion, even with some volatility etc.)

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