U.S. Player Ratings: Solid performances from front to back

By Ridge Mahoney

The USA is headed to the World Cup final for the seventh straight time after solid performances from front to back down the middle from Eddie Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Omar Gonzalez and Tim Howard, plus a goal and assist from Landon Donovan playing in his third Dos a Cero game.

7 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 93/0. Even a sputtering Mexico figured to get a few good looks, and so it did, but Howard parried two well-hit shots and spectacularly snagged a veering drive from Giovani dos Santos. His controlled aggression coming out for high balls, coupled with the play of his two towering centerbacks, neutralized Mexico’s desperate aerial attempts.

6 Fabian Johnson (Nuremberg/GER) 18/0. Switched from left mid against Costa Rica to right back to play a very solid and smart game before a hamstring pull forced him off at halftime. Coolly headed a ball back to Howard under moderate pressure and contained dos Santos well though he did foul him once to concede a free kick. Befuddled the Mexicans with back-to-back sombreros to deliver a ball Eddie Johnson reacted too slowly to exploit.

7 Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy) 14/0. A real tower of strength defensively and aside from one giveaway in the middle third, passed the ball effectively. Gonzalez waited out a few dribbling attackers to cleverly time his tackles and usually made the right choice of whether to step or drop. He gave dos Santos too much space late in the first half but Howard made the save.

6 Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes) 43/5. His smothering of substitute Oribe Peralta on a cross in the final minutes typified his tenacious work throughout the 90 minutes, though a couple of slow reactions gave Mexico a bit too much space. But he cut out several low crosses and had little trouble dealing with what he faced in the air. He and Gonzalez kept their balance and rarely looked out of sync.

6 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX) 111/17. He handled a variety of attackers reasonably well, getting back to cut off dos Santos, Andres Guardado and Peralta when they attacked his corner, though the inside channel opened up a couple of times when he drifted outside. He got forward just enough to further unbalance the Mexicans as they grew more desperate.

7 Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/GER) 34/2. With the American attackers in good flow yet playing patiently, Jones patrolled the center to prevent Mexico from breaking out or squelching whatever it tried to create in the middle third. In the second half, he calmly tracked Guardado before easily snuffing his attempted cross.

6 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 32/1. He filled his role quietly and efficiently, buttressing the middle and quickly relaying the balls played to him. When Mexico did catch him with the ball, it either failed to win the ball or fouled him in the attempt. He failed to close down space near the edge of the penalty area occasionally as shots were taken. In the second half, Peralta chopped him twice in quick succession and he just got up and got on with business.

6 Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/FRA) 21/1. He gave Mexico problems on the right flank with his touches and runs. He got to the byline to deliver a few good crosses, one of which led to the corner by which the Americans scored their first goal. He also served balls from deeper spots that forced the Mexicans to scramble.

7 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 153/57. He saw a lot of ball and picked his spots to go at the Mexicans, often preferring to keep possession and draw them out. In the set play department, he delivered one ball that Eddie Johnson headed on frame, then a second that ended up in the net. The treasured 2-0 scoreline was secured when he finished a timely run by poking Mix Diskerud’s low cross high into the net.

5 Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) 101/36. Fans were serenading him for the shanked stoppage-time penalty that preserved a fourth straight “Dos a Cero” in Columbus. He got a slight touch on the Diskerud centering ball that Donovan tucked away and contributed many complementary touches when the U.S. got close to shooting range. He did much better job winning the PK than he did converting it, but on this night the Americans had matters covered.

7 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) 59/19. After powering a first-half header that Mexican keeper Jesus Corona saved, Johnson nailed a second offering from a Donovan corner kick to break open a goalless game. He ran the channels well, checked back smartly to link up with teammates, and occasionally stayed high to pull the Mexican back line away from its midfield. A clever back-heel set up Dempsey for a shot that was blocked.

6 Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg/GER) 23/0. As he showed during the Gold Cup, he’s more than capable, either as a starter or, as in this case, injury replacement for Fabian Johnson. His interception of an attempted clearance led to the second U.S. goal.

6 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR) 12/2. Snapped up his opportunity to make a play by chipping a ball into space and driving a low ball into the goal area that Donovan tucked away.

NR Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) 15/1. Took over for Bedoya in the final minutes.

(1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)
27 comments about "U.S. Player Ratings: Solid performances from front to back".
  1. Tom Symonds, September 11, 2013 at 2:03 a.m.

    For me, Jermaine Jones was clearly MOTM...his most outstanding performance of the entire qualifying campaign.

  2. Roger Sokol, September 11, 2013 at 4:58 a.m.

    It was definitely a penalty and should have been called. But I was hoping Dempsey would miss it. El Tri is in a bad place and adding a gratuitous goal almost seems mean. I hope they can find some answers soon. The World Cup wouldn't be the same without them. One thing's for sure, Panama is giving everything they've got to try to qualify. So they won't be a pushover. Klinsmann's deft handling of the USMNT has them playing the kind of soccer that we've all dreamed about. Qualification was earned by excellence. With 30+ players trying to make the final 23 man WC squad, no one can afford to let up in the remaining qualifiers or friendlies leading into Brazil.

  3. Tom Tani, September 11, 2013 at 6:34 a.m.

    Anybody wondering what Paul Gardner is thinking right now ... LOL His beloved South American style of soccer is not looking too good at the moment.

    Maybe he will be gracious enough to finally give props to Klinsmann for the job he has done instead of the same tired negativity

    Ah, who am I kidding

  4. John Munnell, September 11, 2013 at 7:37 a.m.

    Guess I'm the contrarian here. While I'm very happy with the result, it wasn't a good match on either side. And the US was just plain bad in the 1st half --- chaos in defensive communication, senseless giveaways and aimless up front. I've been pleased with the style of play that is beginning to emerge from the team, but this match had a lot of one touch passing just as a slave to style rather than the need of the situation. I decided that was mostly 1st half nervousness, as they finally settled down a bit. But many of the rankings seem high to me, especially Fabian Johnson, who has his worst US game for me, Kyle Beckerman, who wasn't even average for himself on this night and Bedoya, a very puzzling choice over the more creative Zusi. (Anyone else think Dempsey was almost invisible?)

  5. Miguel Dedo, September 11, 2013 at 9:36 a.m.

    siguiendo á Ric
    se fueron los sueños,
    y las golondrinas,
    y las golondrinas se fueron también.

  6. David Mont, September 11, 2013 at 10:13 a.m.

    I agree with John. I thought both teams very quite poor. US took their chances; Mexico didn't -- but both created very little. It's interesting that the US is basically playing Bradley-ball now -- bunker in, destroy, and hope for a few opportunities (mostly of set pieces).

  7. David Mont, September 11, 2013 at 10:14 a.m.

    And, by the way, where are all those who just a few months ago here very proclaiming Mexico's greatness and talked about a huge gap that would take the US years to close?

  8. Scott O'Connor, September 11, 2013 at 10:33 a.m.

    If that Penalty was not missed on purpose (and I highly doubt the extremely competitive Dempsey would miss a chance to score a goal), then my statement after last game stands: Dempsey needs to stop taking penalty kicks. Landon is the master at converting penalties for the national team. Money. Like Balotelli for Italy. Clint needs to set his ego aside (very tough for Mr. Ego to do) and give the spot duties back to Landon.

  9. Millwall America, September 11, 2013 at 11:17 a.m.

    A good grinding win that wasn't pretty but took advantage of a Mexican team that are in shambles. Even if Mexico manage to grab fourth place, I don't fancy their chances of beating New Zealand over two legs. As for the USMNT, a great qualifying campaign and now it's on to Brazil. I'm glad that Klinsmann didn't listen to the over-reacters who were calling for Howard's head just because he had one off night. He certainly came to play in Columbus.

  10. Walt Pericciuoli, September 11, 2013 at 11:29 a.m.

    Over-all considering the opponent and the importance of the match for them, the ratings were deserved,except for Omar, a 7 really? Among the highest ratings?You say "A real tower of strength defensively and aside from one giveaway in the middle third, passed the ball effectively".What game were you watching? I did not see him complete one pass forward. He did give "dos Santos too much space late in the first half" and Howard blasted him for it. Goodson was the better of the two central defenders. I rate Gonzalez a real weakness in our central defense. In the end, unless he drastically improves, he will cost us big time.

  11. Scott O'Connor, September 11, 2013 at 1:13 p.m.

    Walt you're dead wrong, son. Gonzo was the man on any ball in the air. He owned the airspace in front of the US goal. He made a couple of small errors that his teammates picked him up on. There's no getting out of a World Cup group without Gonzo being there and owning the airspace. Goodson was good too and I like that pairing better than Besler-Gonzo. Hope to see more of those two together. Plus Goodson is good for a goal every now and then which can only help. Don't see Besler as much of a set piece threat.

  12. Kent James, September 11, 2013 at 1:40 p.m.

    John, I completely agree with you. Dempsey was really sub-par; he was rarely where he could receive the ball (EJ was much better in this respect), and he seemed to be going at 3/4 speed (unless he was in the box). While F. Johnson did not have his usual strong performance offensively, he was pretty solid defensively. Tom, you're right that Jones had a strong game, but don't go overboard. He still gave the ball away a lot (he was one reason we had trouble keeping the ball in the first 20 minutes; Dempsey's absence was another). Gonzales deserved his high ranking; awesome in the air, many smart decisions about when to tackle, few fouls. His soft header back to Howard under pressure early was excellent. He and Goodson dominated the aerial battles, which surprisingly, the Mexicans kept trying to wage. But given Mexico's collapsing defense, both centerbacks gave the ball away too much trying to start the offense. Bessler (and Cameron) are better at that. It wasn't pretty (though the goals were), but boy was it clutch.

  13. Thomas Brannan, September 11, 2013 at 2:13 p.m.

    Dempsey may have gotten a 5 but on his post game interview with Jeremy Schapp he would have gotten a 10. He ended the interview with a "yes sir". How many professional athletes say, "yes sir". We have the best sport and the best people playing that sport. Once I heard that on drug testing virtually no one in US Soccer ever tests positive. As I say the best people playing the best sport.

  14. Bruce Gowan, September 11, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.

    A win is great but that does not mean that everything was great on the field. Jones gave up the ball often in the first 30 mins and he took three poor shots. Both outside backs were weak both defending and coming forward. Dempsey was not involved. The center backs did very well and Gonzales showed himself capable at this level. To me the biggest mistake was unforced errors. Against a better team that will give up goals.

  15. Daniel Clifton, September 11, 2013 at 2:36 p.m.

    I thought Fabian Johnson looked out of sync on the right side. I thought he should have gotten a 5. I didn't see Dempsey do much last night. I thought Donovan deserved a high rating because of his work on defense. He and Beasley really seemed to be in tune with eachother. I thought Bedoya was a good choice to start and made a great cross that Johnson was not quite ready for and no one showed up at the back post. I thought Gonzo looked solid last night. I don't understand what has happened to Mexico. They looked nothing like what they have looked like in the past such as in the 2011 Gold Cup final. Right now they may not be the fourth best team in CONCACAF. I don't understand the Bob Bradley comparison. This team does not play like Bradley's teams. Klinsmann has done a masterful job with this team. He deserves credit. They were prepared for this game. I liked the way they retained possession by playing it safe. They respected Mexico's ability to counter with speed. Mexico has no one who is really good at making the final pass to set someone up to score. Hernandez and Dos Santos don't seem to pair together very well. Mexico needs a number 9. Apparently they don't have one. Hernandez received virtually no service.

  16. Alex G. Sicre, September 11, 2013 at 3:11 p.m.

    I like what I see. cudos to Klinsman for building the depth of players we never had before. Donovan should take the penalty kicks. He's done it in the past with the USMNT, and he's always done it with the Galaxy.

  17. Hal Conen, September 11, 2013 at 3:12 p.m.

    Zusi (I think it was) was played a nice crisp through ball from Beasley but started his run too late making the pass look like it was to a Mexican defender.

    Mexico looked clearly better in the 1st 25 minutes. Then we looked even until our first goal. After that USA looked better. Mexico would have scored the first goal with someone lesser than Howard. Our defence other than Howard was not great. Mexico was always allowed to make the initial pass from 30-35 yards out (and even closer). The initial pass was generally defended well but I don't like standing them up and giving them so much time every single time.

  18. Hal Conen, September 11, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.

    Maybe Donovan's eye was a factor for not taking the penalty. Really I think it was just respect for Dempsey who drew the foul.

  19. Chris Sapien , September 11, 2013 at 3:34 p.m.

    Panama has played better soccer in the hex, and I expect them to grasp the opportunity to knock-out mexico from Brazil 14, either by points or the goals scored tiebreaker. Mexico has to be in full panic mode now.......Great win for the US.....thank God Beasley's miss-kick clearence blunder didn't go in!! That could of given mexico the lift they needed early.

  20. Don Wilson, September 11, 2013 at 4 p.m.

    Some games are pretty, some ugly, and some are just grinders. With five starters out, including Evans, just holding on through the storm is and getting the a workman-like victory is enough. Certainly not Dempsey's best game, but a 5? He was all over the field and a major disruption for the defense. Most of the Mexican success in the first 25 minutes was at the expense of the Johnson-Bedoya right side, and a gift from the Mexican ref in the Costa Rica game. Snarky comments aside, let's all revel in the prospect of fielding our best team ever in Brazil.

  21. James Madison, September 11, 2013 at 5:43 p.m.

    A win to clinch a WCup return is wonderful, but that should not forgive the AWFUL first 20-25 minutes starting with Beasley's nearly own goal. If the ratings were based on the entire game and not just the 2nd half, they should have averaged a point per player lower.

  22. David Mont, September 11, 2013 at 8:05 p.m.

    What's truly alarming is that it's now two straight games in which the team came out unprepared and was overwhelmed in the first 20 minutes or so. Good thing Mexico didn't take advantage. A better team would.

  23. James Froehlich, September 11, 2013 at 8:23 p.m.

    Man, what a rough crowd!! If I hadn't watched the replay today, based on the comments here, I would have thought we had lost. How could we possibly have won when everybody sucked!! First of all,I would agree that the ratings are a bit high across the board but folks, there are a couple mitigating factors: first, this is Mexico--as a team they may be playing like c**p but there are still some very good players out there capable of some good individual performances at any given mooment. Second, as the announcers noted, only 4 of the US players on the field were playing in the same positions as 4 days ago. We lost 4 important first team starters and were still in recovery mode from the CR drubbing. Not the crispest passing exhibition but they held it together and scored on some great plays.

  24. Chris Sapien , September 11, 2013 at 8:41 p.m.

    Nice James F.! But you know this is pretty common with folks here though, it's a never-ending qualification when we win, and total trashing when we lose. (most anyway) Some act like we are the only team out there on the pitch that wants to win the match. Its always better to show patience like JK does, and believe that eventually we will get the result we desire. Even the mighty Spains and Brazils can't dictate their will the entire game against a side with some quality.

  25. Kent James, September 11, 2013 at 9:56 p.m.

    James F, point taken. Your reminder that only 4 players were in the same position as last Friday demonstrates the flexibility that JK has admirably built into the team. I think this is JK's greatest strength, and should serve the team well over the course of the finals in Brazil (nice that we can say that!). Mexico is always capable of being dangerous; yes, they played poorly, so we should recognize that, but I think we all know how one piece of individual brilliance can change a game (Campbell's goal against the US comes to mind...), so I didn't relax until we were 2 goals up in stoppage time.

  26. Charles Stamos, September 12, 2013 at 1:32 a.m.

    Nice effort and win after the slow start. Donovan should be taking all PKs. Dempsey was lucky against CR, and his powerball against Mexico proves he's not the best choice for PKs. we need the next two games to sharpen our backline. Is there a better choice at left back? getting Bradley back will help, up front Klinsman can experiment with different combos, but he must find a solid back four and get two shutouts. Howard can be spelled by Guzan in one game. Still a work in progress, we are not ready for a good showing in Brazil.

  27. Walt Pericciuoli, September 12, 2013 at 9:41 a.m.

    On Gonzo, to get a 7 overall,to me a player has to have a better than above average game. Dominating the defensive headers (at 6'5")is not enough. OK for a 5 rating,for doing what he is supposed to do, but the central defenders must also win balls and start attacks out of the back.Omar is very weak at that part of his game, not as good as Besler or Goodson. I also believe he ball watches, causing him very often to be out of position requiring the other backs to cover for him, instead of he covering for them.He may get away with it at some levels,but before the WC,he needs to improve.He is young, he should get better, but so far, I don't see him progressing.

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