Now that he can finally breathe again, Blake Thomsen is ready with his player ratings. See what he thought about Clint Dempsey, John Brooks, and the rest of the victorious U.S. national team.
June 16, 2014
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: Howard did very well on a first-half save from Asamoah Gyan, but he didn’t have too much more to do until Andre Ayew’s fine goal in the 82nd minute. Could he have saved it? It would have been a brilliant save, certainly—but it’s not out of the question for a goalkeeper of his caliber. Still, it was a strong performance from Howard, who was superb in terms of coming off his line and also organizing the defense. Rating: 6.5
: Johnson defended well throughout the game, but he (understandably) didn’t make as big of an offensive impact as we’ve seen recently. It’s worth noting that it was his excellent run and perseverance that drew the U.S.’s game-winning corner. It was a very solid performance, but it’s encouraging to know he’s got even more quality in the tank. Rating: 6.5
: Cameron was absolutely immense throughout the game, winning headers, blocking shots, and dealing effectively with balls over the top. He has emerged over the past month as the U.S.’s best center back. If he keeps this up, he’ll soon be remembered as the best American center back since pre-injury Oguchi Onyewu. Rating: 7.5
: The nerves of the first two Send-Off Series games look like distant memories. Besler built off his strong match against Nigeria with an equally impressive showing in the first half. Worryingly, he had to leave with a hamstring injury, but Jurgen Klinsmann seemed to think he was in relatively good shape and implied he’ll be good to go for Portugal on Sunday. Rating: 6.5
: In fairness, Beasley was left isolated one-on-one again and again, which in itself is not his fault. However, he failed to convince defensively and didn’t do too much getting forward either. To be honest, it looked like his cleats were letting him down, as he slipped at least four times throughout the game. It’s an issue he’ll need to address before the next game. Rating: 5
: Beckerman deserves huge credit for cutting the careless errors out of his Nigeria performance and rising to the occasion on the big stage. His positioning was consistently so good that his lack of pace wasn’t an issue—after all of the speculation about whether he could play at this level, there’s no denying that he is ready to continue making an impact in World Cup matches. Rating: 7
: Last game, we asked if Jones had played his best ever game in a U.S. shirt. This performance certainly rivaled that, if not edged it. He didn’t contribute much offensively after the 20-second mark, but does it really matter? His nifty assist to Clint Dempsey set the U.S. on its way, and his tenacious defensive work from the first minute on was superb. After an up-and-down World Cup cycle, he appears to have peaked at the perfect time. Rating: 8
: Bedoya didn’t have his best game in the attack, but he had his moments, especially on a nifty through ball to Johnson that nearly delivered a Jozy Altidore goal in the 18th minute. Regardless, Bedoya is in this team primarily to defend, and he did that job extremely well. Given the physical demands of his position combined with the intense conditions in Brazil, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Graham Zusi replace him against Portugal. Rating: 6
: It feels strange to rate Bradley this low, but this may have been his worst performance for the U.S. in at least four years. His passing was jarringly loose in the attacking third, where he completed just 50% of his passes, missing out on some very promising opportunities. Still, he did a job defensively, recovering seven loose balls and running tirelessly. And MB90 will certainly bounce back against Portugal, which is very good news for a U.S. team that already has three points in the bag. Rating: 5
: Dempsey’s start was the most brilliant in U.S. history—let alone World Cup history—as a delicious first touch put him in a great spot to skin John Boye and slot a perfect shot far post. His effectiveness dwindled without Altidore and also, you know, after he got kicked in the face and likely broke his nose. He looked exhausted by match end, which is understandable given he wasn’t able to breathe through his nose. He’ll likely return full of vigor against Portugal and, crucially, also with one of those sweet masks on his face. Rating: 6.5
: In a development that is desperately unfortunate for Altidore and the U.S. as a whole, the striker picked up what looked to be a nasty hamstring strain early in the first half. His early play was bright, and all involved with U.S. soccer will hope it’s not the only action he sees in Brazil. Rating: Incomplete
: It’s a shame we even have to mention Brooks’ near-fatal error early in the second half, but it’s impossible to ignore a mistake that could have been so momentous. But after that giveaway to Gyan? Wow. Brooks was strong defensively and became the first American substitute to ever score in a World Cup. Images of an overwhelmed Brooks after he scored will remain in the memory for a long, long time. What a run, what a header, and what a moment. Rating: 7
: It can’t be easy for anyone to come in cold to a World Cup match, but Johannsson was far from his best and never got going at all against Ghana. It also didn’t help that his strike partner was struggling with a broken nose, and it’s clear that Johannsson is no Altidore when it comes to holdup play. Still, it was his through ball that earned the winning corner, so it would be inaccurate to say he made no impact. Will he start against Portugal? Klinsmann has six days to make that crucial decision. For what it’s worth, this writer thinks we could see Mix Diskerud in a No. 10 role and Dempsey alone up top. Rating: 5
: Zusi didn’t see much of the ball, and Ghana’s superb equalizer was conceded on his side of the field (not that he could do much about it). But any time you provide a picture-perfect assist on the game winner in a World Cup, you’ll pick up a decent rating from ASN. His set pieces have long been his standout attribute, and he proved it in the biggest way possible by finding John Brooks for a legendary winner. Rating: 6.5
: Klinsmann’s squad was admittedly devastated by injuries, but it would have been nice to see him do something to improve upon the performance in the second half—after Altidore’s injury, the U.S. managed just two touches within 20 yards of Ghana’s goal. Still, credit for rolling with the punches and picking up a massive win. He’ll really earn his money with his enforced lineup tinkering before the Portugal game. Finally, though it draws ire from many fans, the decision to leave Landon Donovan out looks a little more questionable now. Are Chris Wondolowski, Brad Davis, or Julian Green really more ready to impact a World Cup game than Donovan? Rating: 6.5
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Blake Thomsen is an ASN contributing editor. Follow him on Twitter
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