ASN Player Ratings: United States vs. Guatemala
The United States defeated Guatemala and made it to the next round of World Cup qualification. Here is our take on the individual player performances, along with a few words about the coach.
BY John Godfrey PostedThe U.S. men’s national team did what it set out to do Tuesday night in Kansas City. Led by Clint Dempsey’s two goals, it beat Guatemala 3-1, secured passage to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualification, and even generated some positive feelings among fans. Here is a look at how the individual players performed, on a ratings scale of 1-10. (For a guide on what the numerical ratings mean, please click here.) STARTERS
October 17, 2012
October 17, 2012
Tim Howard (ASN rank #3) : Howard’s big moment in the match came in the 5th minute, when he faced down Guatemala’s Carlos Ruiz on a breakaway. Ruiz, a crafty striker, made it look easy as he slipped past the U.S. backstop and put the Chapines ahead 1-0. While it’s perhaps a bit unfair to suggest Howard should have made this save, it’s reasonable to expect him to force Ruiz into a more difficult shot. This moment aside, Howard did not have the most eventful match, but he did well to hang on to several Guatemala shots in the second half. Rating: 5.5 Steve Cherundolo (ASN rank #5): His incisive, perfectly weighted pass to Eddie Johnson down the right wing created Clint Dempsey’s game-winning goal. And Guatemala never threatened on Cherundolo’s side of the pitch. He is ranked No. 5 in the ASN 100, and last night Cherundolo showed why. A class performance. Rating: 8 Geoff Cameron (ASN rank #7): How much of the blame does Cameron get for allowing Ruiz to roam free and put Guatemala ahead early? We’ll say 50%. And how much credit does Cameron get for rising above this gaffe and playing a very solid 82 minutes after that? A ton. Poor start, good recovery, decent score. Rating: 5 Carlos Bocanegra (ASN rank #9): See above, but with a goal added to the mix. Given his 108 caps, you expect better from Bocanegra in a key World Cup qualifier. But there is no disputing that the U.S. captain made up for his defensive lapse when he scored a game-tying goal just five minutes later. Though he can be frustrating at times, the guy has a knack for scoring important goals. Rating: 6 Michael Parkhurst (ASN rank #22): Did his name get called more than a few times the entire match? No, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Mostly it’s a good thing. In a game like this, where Parkhurst was playing out of position and the U.S. was ahead for 72 minutes, you want a safe, solid game from your left back. He delivered. Rating: 6 Danny Williams (ASN rank #10): It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the No. 6 role for the U.S. in the near future. Or perhaps even the not-so-near future. Solid. Steady. Reliable. Rating: 7 Graham Zusi (ASN rank #17): He played well for the most part, but watching Zusi on the ball gets you excited about his potential. He’s smooth, technical, and very talented. But he misfires too often. Yes, his 10th-minute corner led to the Americans’ opening goal, and yes, he sent in some lovely crosses throughout the match. But Zusi also wasted multiple chances from the wings with poorly hit corners/crosses that could have and should have led to more U.S. chances. With Landon Donovan and Brek Shea unavailable, Zusi stepped up and delivered. But he can do better. Rating: 6.5 Michael Bradley (ASN rank #2): The Generalissimo didn’t impose his will on the game the way he often does, but he was still one of the two or three best players on the field. Bradley showcased his great vision on the tic-tac-toe play that led to the Americans’ third goal, and his slick move past Ruiz in the second half should have earned a penalty kick. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Bradley is the most important player on the U.S. national team. Rating: 7 Eddie Johnson (ASN rank #38): The kid stays in the picture. Despite missing a glorious goalscoring chance on Herculez Gomez’s inspired cross in the 54th minute, Johnson remained active, aggressive, and dangerous throughout the match. Johnson lost his spot on the national team. He fought through it. And now he is a big part of the plan going forward. Awesome story, and expect that ASN ranking to go way up when the November list is published. Rating: 6 Clint Dempsey (ASN rank #1): The Yanks needed their best player to come through in the clutch, and he did just that. Dempsey’s performance in Antigua left much to be desired, and his post-game comments about the muddy pitch at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds did not endear him to American supporters. But Dempsey showed his class—and drive, and ambition—last night against Guatemala, making great runs, creating chances (he assisted on Bocanegra’s strike), and scoring two goals. We have to ding Dempsey a half-point for the comical dive that earned him a late yellow card. Otherwise, a great effort. Rating: 7.5 Herculez Gomez (ASN rank #12): Gomez had a stinker of a game against Antigua & Barbuda, and he admitted as much. Did anybody think he would wallow in self-pity or give anything less than 100% against Guatemala? We knew better. Although he didn’t get on the score sheet, Gomez’s inspirational performance, built on a platform of tireless running and great crossing, ensured that he will be a part of this team in the buildup to the 2014 World Cup. Rating: 7 SUBSTITUTES
Sacha Kljestan (ASN rank #27): While he didn’t have much to do aside from help ensure that Guatemala did not get back into the match, Kljestan gets credit for doing just that. It’s good to see a good guy back in the coach’s good graces. Rating: 6 Maurice Edu (ASN rank #23): Held serve. Now it’s time to win a regular starting role at Stoke City. Rating: 5 Joe Corona (ASN rank #32): Didn’t have time to do anything, but he is now a U.S. international. Shrewd move by Klinsmann to give Corona a couple of minutes there. Rating: Incomplete THE COACH
Jurgen Klinsmann: If we were rating the coach on his work throughout the semifinal round of World Cup qualification, Klinsmann might not earn high marks. (Why was it so difficult this time around?) But since we’re focusing exclusively on last night’s match, Klinsmann deserves credit for the win, the squad he sent out onto the pitch, and especially the way the U.S. played with the lead in the second half. The Americans forced Guatemala to chase the ball constantly, and it killed the Chapines' morale. Granted, Guatemala is not the strongest team in CONCACAF, but the U.S. fought back from its early mistake and dominated this game for 80-plus minutes. That was a performance to build on and Klinsmann should do just that. Rating: 7 Editor’s note: American Soccer Now planned to have its interactive Player Ratings tool in place for launch—a slick, custom-built module that would allow you to input your own ratings alongside those of ASN Editors and other media types. It was 95% complete at gametime, but when we encountered a few technical glitches we decided to hold off on the feature for the moment. It will be live and in full operation long before the November 14 U.S. friendly. These are our ratings; now tell us yours. Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.