U.S. Player Ratings: Life off the bench

By Ridge Mahoney

Aron Johannsson and Mix Diskerud came off the bench to score as the USA started its three-game series of World Cup preparation games with a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan.

5 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG), 98/0.
Snagged a deflected that just before it crossed the goal line to avert a corner kick and wasn’t tested on his two saves nor by any threatening crosses.

5 Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER), 20/0. Pushed more upfield as the first half unfolded. He escaped pressure to work a nice one-two with Bedoya but the sequence ran aground. A hasty pass late in the first half gave the Azeris an opportunity to counter. He upgraded his game a bit at the start of the second half.

6 Matt Besler (Sporting KC), 15/0. Very composed and confident for the full 90 minutes and usually had the measure of Azeri striker Rufat Dedashov. Seldom bothered to hit a long ball in swirling wind and in the second half found Tim Chandler and Michael Bradley with outlet passes. Contributed a vital block to snuff out a threat caused by careless midfield play.

5 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), 25/1. Recent experience in England enabled him to judge wind-driven balls and he paired up well with Besler during his first-half stint. He showed a good touch and had little trouble winning tackles. Decisions of when to step and when to drop, and side-to-side movement were crisp.

5 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX), 115/17. Hit a couple good balls up the flank for Bedoya, also hit target-man Altidore on a few occasions but seldom was able to follow up to deliver a shot or cross. Worked over once or twice by Vagif Javadov and needed help from Cameron to contain him.

5 Jermaine Jones (Besiktas/TUR), 40/2. He isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but he sat at the foot of the diamond and buttressed the defense reliably. A customary giveaway provided Raul Aliyev with a shot that was deflected by Besler. He also won many balls though not all of his passes went where they should have.

5 Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), 84/12. Solid in a few departments and poor in others. Careless back pass provided Azerbaijan with a chance, and he killed a counterattack with an over-hit cross. He shot well over the bar after a nice cutback from Davis set him up, but his shot from a Diskerud knockdown did hit the target, and Diskerud banged in the rebound.

4 Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/FRA), 27/1. Brought his usual mix of energy and effort but aside from one cutback from the byline that found Wondolowski, he didn’t much influence matters in the final third. Usually elected not to run at defenders with the ball and his attempts at combination play often fizzled out. He did work hard defensively and dug into a few solid tackles.

4 Graham Zusi (Sporting KC), 21/3. He worked both sides of the field but never looked settled on either side. He couldn’t gauge the wind when he hit balls in the air and like Bedoya wasn’t aggressive on the dribble, though he controlled the ball well enough.

5 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), 20/9. He played well overall and nailed a couple of headers on frame, though one of them went right at the keeper’s knee. Defensively he challenged a near-post corner kick and got enough body on Rasim Ramaldanov that the ensuing header missed the frame. 

6 Jozy Altidore (Sunderland/ENG), 68/21. Looked more comfortable in the second half when stationed on the left wing, though in the first half he won a few balls and hit teammates with passes, such as one Bradley took inside. He got to the byline to slip a diagonal ball that Diskerud hit first-time and fired high on a bouncing half-chance.

6 Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg/GER), 11/0.
He injected a lot of life to the left flank during a very solid second half. He and Brad Davis linked up often and he also worked a one-two with Altidore that produced a deflected shot.

7 Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), 15/0. Curled a corner kick that Aron Johannsson headed in for the second goal to highlight a transformation on the left flank for the second half. He won a free kick near the corner of the penalty area and set up Bradley for a shot with a well-weighted cutback. He did what lefties can do.

4 Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), 19/0. Looked hesitant a couple of times and left a huge gap that Rauf Alijev ran into for a shot.

6 Aron Johannsson (AZ/NED), 8/2. Neatly planted Davis’ corner kick into the top corner after narrowly missing the near post minutes after entering the game.

5 DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders), 3/0. Scuffed a few errant passes as he tried to find the pace of the game and soldiered on after Alijev cracked him.

6 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR), 18/3. Battled to knock down a ball that Bradley fired on goal and got his reward for a good night’s work by smacking home the rebound. Played a sweet reverse pass for Bradley, too.

(1=low; 5=average; 10=high)

25 comments about "U.S. Player Ratings: Life off the bench".
  1. Kent James, May 28, 2014 at 8:38 a.m.

    I thought Bedoya was one of the few players doing anything in the first half, so I'm not sure why he was only a 4. And Zusi had some pretty good crosses (and didn't really do anything wrong) so again, I don't know why he was rated lower than anyone else. Overall, a rather average performance against a very mediocre team (Johanson's header, while excellent, was taken unmarked at the 6 on a corner while he was standing on the ground!). I guess JK wanted to have a game against a weak opponent to build a little confidence, but as Taylor Twellman said, tactically, playing Azerbaijan is the polar opposite of anything we will face in the first round, since we won't be dominating possession against the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany.

  2. beautiful game, May 28, 2014 at 9:12 a.m.

    Mr. Kent J, it's the whole bowl of wax about performance; open your eyes to the big picture; one or two nice plays isn't enough. And if u think Twellman has anything to say that has merit, than you're perception of the game should be re-evaluated. Twellman and his side-kick from GB were two yokles doing yada-yada small talk throughout the game. The opposition was below mediocre, plain and simple.

  3. Walt Pericciuoli, May 28, 2014 at 9:53 a.m.

    I can never understand the player rating system. If the opponent is weak, then shouldn't the player ratings be skewed upwards. Everyone should be earning 7's,8's and 9's. But I see these same kind of ratings even v. the likes of Italy,Spain etc.? With that said, please explain what the heck Altidore did that earned him higher ratings than Howard,Johnson,Beasley,Cameron,Wondolowski,Zusi,Bedoya,Jones,Yedlin,and even Bradley? AND once again, Gonzalez proves to me he does not belong. Things did not pick up for USA until the youngsters got into the match. Perhaps Klinsi does know somethin? As an aside, I thought that was one of the better games for Jones.

  4. Allan Lindh, May 28, 2014 at 10:34 a.m.

    I think the world of Brad Davis, but it is as if this rating system ignores wings defensive contributions, and Bedoya had a solid shift. And he and Zusi both hit some good crosses, and whether they go in is just luck of the draw. If Wondo had found the net with two of Zusi crosses, then does Zusi get a 7? These ratings are too narrow to be useful.

  5. cisco martinez, May 28, 2014 at 10:36 a.m.

    I think the ratings were fair, however one thing was missing was speed on the wings, Bedoya and Zusi are technical and tactical players, a donovan would have stretch the defense and leave gaps between the centre backs and solely rely on set pieces.

  6. cisco martinez, May 28, 2014 at 10:47 a.m.

    One more thing to add, when you have a soccer journalist not a soccer analyst give ratings on players you enter into in the realm of soccer coach/analyst.

  7. Charles Stamos, May 28, 2014 at 10:58 a.m.

    All grades = incomplete

  8. Lewie Stevens, May 28, 2014 at 11:14 a.m.

    I guess it is just me, but Timmy Chandler doesn't seem to do many positive things when he moves forward into the attack. Last night was typical of not getting good outcomes from his touches.

  9. Greg Morris, May 28, 2014 at 11:24 a.m.

    Always amazed that we can watch the same game and have wildly differing opinions on what we saw! Here are my thoughts - Actually thought Zusi did well. Looked confident and wanted the ball. Bedoya is a workhorse but he was a turnover machine in the offensive third. Couldn't believe nobody mentioned it. Altidore was what he is. Just enough flashes of his ability to drive you nuts. Wondo is criticized as just a poacher put constantly turns up in dangerous places, works hard and is a vocal leader on the pitch. Bradley was not sharp last night but will be fine. Jones was more disciplined but sprayed passes, and there was no flow with Bradley. Love the confidence and energy that Diskerud and Johannsson bring. Hard to reach definitive conclusions based on what essentially was a scrimmage. The one thing that was clear as day is that Gonzalez does not belong there. He was tentative, slow and lacked confidence.

  10. Scott O'Connor, May 28, 2014 at 12:02 p.m.

    Everybody sees what they want to see; people's perceptions are all over the map. It stands to reason that Ridge would also differ from others' viewing of the game.

  11. Scott O'Connor, May 28, 2014 at 12:14 p.m.

    That said, here's what I thought: Jones had me wanting Beckerman in the game (and I generally hate Beckerman but he's grown on me lately). Bradley was sloppy and not the General Bradley from Serie A. Jozy was fairly clueless, as usual of late. Beasley never pushed forward, always back passing to the centerbacks. Gonzales looks lost far too often. Besler can play some very timid balls from the back. Bedoya gives 100% but I think he might need to give 200% to make a difference. Zusi was pretty good. Diskerud looked feisty and aggressive and found himself in the right places for opportunities (that's not luck, it's a skill). Wondo needs to bury those opportunities. You don't get bunches of open looks in the World Cup, sometimes one chance is all you can hope for. Chandler is too slow and also is quite clumsy on the ball. Yedlin's speed makes me want to overlook some of his tactical deficiencies (just have him stay with CR7). Davis was actually pretty effective. Two dangerous set-piece crosses that yielded results. He ran at the defense and almost drew a penalty. Johannsson generally looks dangerous to me when I've seen him play and he did bury his opportunity in the upper 90.

  12. Brett Wyatt, May 28, 2014 at 1:06 p.m.

    Additional ratings:

    Jon Champion - 10
    Taylor Twellman - 0.5

  13. Steven SIegel, May 28, 2014 at 2:26 p.m.

    A disappointing start all around, though i underatand it's what happens in the next two weeks that counts. Everything can still come together, but this performance was discombobulated, sad. We looked out of place.

    Onward and upward!

  14. Scott O'Connor, May 28, 2014 at 3:20 p.m.

    I agree that the performance was not impressive. However, I'd prefer that over obliterating a much inferior foe and having the guys think, "Hey we're pretty awesome!" I'd rather have them struggle and get a little better every day and be near the peak when Ghana stands in front of them....

  15. charles davenport, May 28, 2014 at 4:26 p.m.

    Jermaine Jones: 2013/2014 32 appearances, 8 yellow cards. 2012/2013 52 appearances, 18 yellow, 1 red; recent form not too bad?

  16. Vince Leone, May 28, 2014 at 4:43 p.m.

    If Omar Gonzalez is "hesitant" against Ajerbaijan, imagine what will happen against the real opponents. When is the last time he played well for the U.S? Frankly, I think the biggest question about who made the 23 should not be about why LD didn't and should be about why Omar did.

  17. Scott O'Connor, May 28, 2014 at 4:53 p.m.

    > Vince L. - Agreed. I think Clarence Goodson is much more solid. Here's hoping Omar blows a knee for a couple weeks so CG can get in there (although JK must be willing to start Brooks over any replacement....).

  18. Scott O'Connor, May 28, 2014 at 5:20 p.m.

    Let me say tweak instead of blow for Omar's knee. Don't wish him or LA Galaxy any ill will, just don't want him in Brazil....

  19. Walt Pericciuoli, May 28, 2014 at 5:33 p.m.

    Would it surprise a few people if a couple of players were dropped now and a couple added?

  20. Charles Stamos, May 28, 2014 at 6:11 p.m.

    yes, totally shocked if LD was added no matter whom was dropped!

  21. Scott O'Connor, May 28, 2014 at 6:21 p.m.

    > Walt P - That would make Klinsi look pretty uncertain. I think only an injury would be politically acceptable to him as a reason to change his team.

  22. James Madison, May 28, 2014 at 8:40 p.m.

    Scoring a goal may merit a 6, but no one should ern a 7 against a hum-drum opponent unless the win is decisive. Altidore, Jones (a send-off waiting to happen) and Gonzalez are weakest links in a squad that will need to improve radically to defeat Ghana and tie Portugal, as needed to advance from the preliminary group.

  23. John Richardson, May 28, 2014 at 10:01 p.m.

    Altidore a 6 ? I suppose everyone should get a ribbon too. And if he EVER scores does he get an 8 or 9 automatically !! Give me a break. Terrible technique on the bouncing ball shot -looked like a 14 yr old. Let's put him on the sidelines and see what Aron and Mix can do for a full 90 min.

  24. James Froehlich, May 28, 2014 at 11:37 p.m.

    Just a note on AZB's WC qualifying: they were in a group with Russia and Portugal plus 3 minnows; their record was - W - 1; D - 6; L - 3. They lost to Portugal twice, 3 - 0 and 2 - 0; split with Russia; beat Northern Ireland once, 2 - 0; and drew all other matches. Despite the lack of commentary on this record, for me it shows a team with one strength, a bunkering defense. That's why JK wanted to play them!

  25. beautiful game, May 29, 2014 at 5:42 p.m.

    Again, I could care less about ratings; it's what the individual players bring to the team table. There is not one dynamic player on this squad; they're mostly equal except for a couple of exceptions. And the bloggers continue to throw names around about who's better...quite elementary in MHO.

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