U.S. Player Ratings: Bad night for bubble players

By Ridge Mahoney

Good games by several regulars and so-so displays by a few players on the bubble were the main points of a 1-0 loss to Austria in Vienna that closed out the 2013 schedule for the United States.

6 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 96/0. Only his last save -- a one-v-one, point-blank blocked on Andreas Ivanschitz -- required his best effort. He collected crosses cleanly -- no easy feat in a heavy rain -- and smothered a few other balls rolled into the penalty area. He had no chance on the goal.

5 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG) 23/1.
He brought a lot into the attack while struggling at times defensively when challenged by Christoph Leitgeb and Martin Harnik. He gave opponents a yard of excess space while they crossed and that has to be corrected. He drove some effective crossfield balls from midfield, passed the ball well most of the time, hit a shot on goal, and arrowed to the near post on a corner kick to nail a header that might have crossed the goal line.

6 Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy) 16/0. Played a solid game with few hiccups. Stepped up smartly numerous times to intercept passes, thwarted just about everything that came his way in the air, and a few times closed up gaps left by teammates. Got forward late in the match and touched a nice ball that Altidore turned into a decent shot. Slipped after a slide tackle in the penalty area but Austria didn’t exploit the opening.

4 John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER) 2/0. A mistimed midfield challenge put the U.S. defense in jeopardy early in the match, and he should have gotten a foot to Gyorgy Garics’ low cross that Marc Janko smashed into the top corner. Smart block on David Alaba snuffed a dangerous chance. There were enough good moments to suggest he will attain this level someday, but off his two appearances, 2014 may be too soon.

5 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX) 114/17. He couldn’t react quickly enough to close down Garics’ on the goal but had to tuck in because the U.S. was caught a man short in its defensive third. He seldom forged a bond with left mid Shea going forward and should have been tighter a few times when Marko Arnautovic dribbled into his area to cut inside for a shot or drive a ball across the goalmouth.

4 Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/FRA) 25/1. Jumped above an opponent to knock down a Bradley cross into a dangerous spot and lofted a good ball to the back post that nearly turned into a chance, but overall influence was slight. He made space for Cameron’s pushes up the flank and seldom connected with him or teammates once the ball came into the attacking third. A badly overhit cross was one of the night’s worst deliveries. Defensively, he needed a lot of covering help from Jones when Cameron moved upfield.

5 Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/GER) 38/2. Jones broke up a lot of Austrian possessions by applying pressure in their half of the field, which allowed Bradley to play as a sort of midfield sweeper, and getting out wide to help out the flank midfielders. He pounced on a loose Austrian pass to hit a great first-time ball that Altidore turned into a near-miss. He served a terrible pass on a feed from Bradley.

4 Michael Bradley (Roma/ITA) 82/11. A dearth of flank play necessitated he hit long balls out of the back; he connected on several sent wide to the flanks, and hit a superb ball that Altidore controlled in the penalty area, but most of his serves to the channels were cut off. Leitgeb stripped him on an egregious giveaway that yielded a great chance for Austria and he was late pressuring a serve. Offensively, he hit a string of good corner kicks and got into the box to drill a close-range shot that was blocked.

3 Brek Shea (Stoke City/ENG) 25/2. This has to be counted as a lost opportunity. There was little menace when he was on the ball and he and Beasley rarely clicked when the captain came upfield. He misread situations on either side of the ball. Fatigue and/or a couple of hard challenges that could have been fouls drained his energy, and he was replaced in the 62nd minute.

4 Aron Johansson (AZ/NED) 6/1. His hard work and smooth touches were rarely rewarded yet at times he lacked the required sharpness. His only shot on frame came from distance and was batted away by keeper Robert Almer. Yet it’s clear he’s getting to know his teammates and the system and he’s good enough for this level.

6 Jozy Altidore (Sunderland/ENG) 66/21. A good game except for a clear, close-range chance he set up by avoiding two defenders, only to top-hit a weak shot right to the keeper. He collected and held numerous balls, including several in the air, and maintained a high energy level for the entire 90 minutes as rain saturated the field. He cut a ball back that gave Bradley a prime chance. He got bold in the final minutes to bend a free kick wide; a miss is a miss, but remember what he did in Sarajevo?

5 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) 61/19. His effort and energy livened up the U.S. attack but too many of his decisions and touches lacked crispness.

5 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR) 16/2. Good movement and touches for the most part, probably passed up a shot or two he could have cracked at goal.

6 Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/BEL) 45/4. Contributed to several threatening sequences, nearly set up Boyd with clever turn and short pass but an opponent cleared the danger.

6 Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/AUT) 12/0. Directed several good balls to teammates, stretched the Austrian defense, fired a shot over the bar.

4 Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG) 10/0. He’s quick and aggressive getting up the flank and Austria nearly scored when it got behind him in the final minutes.

NR Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 17/6. Came on in the final minute. What’s the point?

(1=low; 5-medium; 10=high.)
10 comments about "U.S. Player Ratings: Bad night for bubble players".
  1. Chris Hasbrouck, November 20, 2013 at 12:33 a.m.

    How you give Jones a higher rating than Bradley is beyond me. Jones loses half of his passes to the opposition. I am still shocked he starts for the team. Jones was also directly responsible for the defense having to step up on the goal because he did not track back to cover the player that initiated the pass into the goal area. Bradley on the other hand managed the field and connected on most of his passes. He did an admirable job covering for Jones. Ever notice that we really don't start getting good chances until Jones is removed from the line-up. Once we went 4-4-2 with more than one central mid fielder that could handle the ball the dynamics of the game changed. Wish Diskerud or Klejstan had started ahead of Jones.

  2. Andrew King, November 20, 2013 at 9:28 a.m.

    I agree with Chris totally. I was thinking the exact same thing about Jones. As soon as he was taken off and we switched formations, I thought the overall team play improved dramatically. I really would like to see Cameron get the holding midfield role next to Bradley. If not, he should start at right back. I also thought Bradley deserved a higher rating than Jones. He did have one bad give away in our defensive half, and got caught on the ball a couple times. But overall, I thought he played well

  3. Walt Pericciuoli, November 20, 2013 at 10:11 a.m.

    Neither Jones or Bradley were good and both deserved poor ratings as did the whole team. Altidore a 6? For what?
    Looks like most of or key players were trying to avoid injury and the bubble players were not enough to bring a victory.

  4. I w Nowozeniuk, November 20, 2013 at 11:55 a.m.

    Guys, the squad did a mediocre job; not one player was able to put his stamp on the game, NOT ONE...what does that tell u fellas...and u discuss the ratings. Coach got a good look on what the players on the fringe can do; NOT MUCH.

  5. Kent James, November 20, 2013 at 2:21 p.m.

    I agree with Chris et al about Jones. The game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Bradley was a sweeper in the midfield (and mostly chased Austrian ball possession) while Jones seems to be roaming destroyer, presumably to put pressure on the Austrians. This role does play to Jones' strengths, and he did it reasonably well, but that forces Bradley into a covering defensive role, which negates his offensive abilities. Bradley did much better in the 2nd half bringing the ball forward (and occasionally getting into the penalty area himself). So the contrast between the two formations is stark; in the first half, we did little offensively, while in the 2nd half we created numerous chances. We are better off without Jones in the lineup (though I could see him coming on as a sub to aggressively defend in the opponent's half of the field). As Andrew suggested, I think Cameron would do well in that defensive midfield role (he has good positioning, handles the ball much better than Jones, and is not reckless in his challenges), which would free Bradley to go forward.

  6. Didi P, November 20, 2013 at 3:30 p.m.

    Yes all of them had a poor game. However, it is not because they suddenly become bad players, they are exactly the same as before. But the opposition is much quicker to close them down, hence they all had many turnovers and couldn't do much with the ball. The same thing happened against Belgium before. US may rank higher than Austria, but it is clearly an inferior team (to my eyes, anyway). Austrians have better control and pass of the ball, their movement is superior, and they are quicker on defense. It is a bit analogous to an excellent young player playing up, suddenly he doesn't look so great anymore. It is simply because the opponents are much quicker so his techniques and decision become worse relative to the competition. In short, US is a mediocre team, don't have your hope too high for Brazil.

  7. Didi P, November 20, 2013 at 3:58 p.m.

    I also think Beasley was the worst player out there. He didn't make one solid pass because he was so slow (I don't mean his raw speed but decision making). I guess he is very used to the slow Mexican league so he was utterly clueless what to do when he had the ball. I am not surprised Cameron played well, because he can handle the speed of the game having played in EPL a lot. Whereas Shea is faster than Cameron in physical speed but he is not as quick in getting rid of ball and especially in speed of thought, that's one reason he hasn't received serious playing time in EPL.

  8. I w Nowozeniuk, November 20, 2013 at 5:38 p.m.

    You guys can analyze this and analyze that; the bottom line is that if the majority of the team doesn't bring its A-game, WC 2014 will be a first round exit. That means we need two solid performances out of three games in each round to have any hopes of making a positive statement. Problem is, that we can only play a solid half, as has been evident for the last several years. That, amici sportive, is fact.

  9. Peter Skouras, November 21, 2013 at 7:59 a.m.

    "Mr. Mahoney?" Por favor Profe!

  10. Kent James, November 21, 2013 at 11:23 a.m.

    Ric, I'm pretty sure the ratings apply to the time spent on the field (that player's play compared to others who are playing). If they don't play more than about 10 minutes, there's no rating (NR). I think some of that depends on how involved they are (so a player playing for not very much time might get a rating if they are involved in a lot of play, whereas someone else might be on the field longer but never get near the ball, so not have much on which to base a rating). I'm not sure how else you'd do the time element. As for how much you give for a goal, how you compare errors with good plays, I'm guessing it's an overall, subjective assessment, not a highly tuned ratings system. But it would be helpful if Ridge explained how the ratings worked.

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