USA Players Ratings (v. Spain)

This was, quite easily, the best team performance we’ve seen from the Nats in a long time. So, who rated well and who rated….well, not quite as well?

  • Tim Howard9.5 – Big save after big save. Great command of the back line. Just a stellar performance.
  • Jonathan Spector – 9 – Yet another great performance from the our best right back. Skill, passing, and tackling – it was all superb from Spector.
  • Jay DeMerit9 – DeMerit played out of his mind to shut down David Villa, not letting Villa even get a good look on goal the entire game. A dominating performance that was only outdone by…
  • Oguchi Onyewu – 10 – One of the best performances of any US player ever. He won seemingly every single ball in the box, made countless saving tackles, and has turned himself into one of the top center-halves in the world. He even sprung Davies on a great run with a fantastic outside-of-the-foot through-ball. Pretty much a perfect performance.
  • Carlos Bocanegra – 8.5 – He was hurting? Really? He certainly didn’t show it. Boca made some fantastic tackles and looked comfortable as a left back. Hopefully we don’t move him from the position for as long as he plays.
  • Ricardo Clark – 6 – Ok, I might take a bit of heat here. Yes, Rico played his best game ever. But, in a game where everyone was playing well, it was pretty obvious that Rico didn’t belong. He worked hard, but his lack of speed and any semblance of offensive skill held us back at times. Great effort from him, but I’m hoping for Benny Feilhaber in the final.
  • Michael Bradley – 9.5 – The red card, unfortunately, keeps it from being a 10. Yes, the red was ridiculous and I’ll be shocked if it’s not overturned. What’s missed is the fact that Bradley dominated a midfield consisting of 3 of the best midfielders in the game. He made tons of tackles, great passes, and showed a level of leadership we hadn’t previously seen from him.
  • Clint Dempsey – 8.5 – Finally. Deuce put in a quality performance from start to finish. I don’t think he was MOTM material like some seem to believe, but this was definitely his strongest outing in quite a while.
  • Landon Donovan – 8.5 – Like Deuce, a quality performance from start to finish. His sudden lack of finishing ability is a bit worrying though.
  • Charlie Davies – 8 – Speed kills. Charlie made quite a few sharp runs, made some very nice passes, and generally displays talent and poise that has previously been absent from the USA frontline. Hopefully this signals the end of the Brian Ching era.
  • Jozy Altidore9 – That turn was something no other player on our team could have pulled off. Not only was it strong, but he fooled Capdevila by turning to his weak foot, and then fooled Casillas on the shot as well. This was probably Jozy’s best full effort since he’s been capped.

The Subs:

  • Benny Feilhaber – 8 – He would be higher if he played longer. His piece of dribbling wizardry to setup the second goal was a thing of pure beauty. He needs to start the final, plain and simple.
  • Conor Casey – 1 – Terrible sub. He’s lazy and slow. Basically, he’s Brian Ching without the hustle, strength, or position awareness – and that’s certainly not good. Bradley would be wise to never use him again.
  • Jonathan Bornstein – 3 – A slightly better sub that Casey, but what was the point of it? Yea, we’d just lost Mikey to a red, but we didn’t look flustered by it. Bringing Bornstein in just made it more likely that we’d give up a bad goal.


  • Bob Bradley – 5 – He gets credit for again using Davies, starting Bocanegra at left back, and lighting a fire under this team. He loses major points for bringing in 2 terrible subs. Despite our success, I’m still in the camp that Bradley is out of his depth at this level.

9 Responses

  1. The fact it took Bradley this long to put our top players on the field is very telling of his sort comings as a coach. And if that does not show it, the fact Connor Casey is called up does.

    That said, epic win, and I think ‘Shock and Awe is a most appropriate way to describe Jozy and Charlie, and what they did to Spain’s vaunted back line.

  2. 1. Regarding B Bradley, perhaps I’m on my own in this, but I wasn’t pleased to see us sit back defensively almost immediately after the first goal.

    We gave Spain many opportunities and as excited as I am about how well our D played tonight, I know we won’t have the same performance every time we go up early and then decide to bunker in.

    Our offensive pressure in the beginning of the game kept Spain on their heels. Howard was basically under constant siege for the entire second half.

    2. LD and Dempsey were huge with their defense. So glad to see them play a complete game. LD, in particular, was phenomenal.

  3. New to the site, but no real arguments with your rankings (although Demerit was my man of the match). Keep up the good work!

  4. Thanks for the responses! Hope you’re enjoying the articles!

  5. Would swap Demerit and Onyewu’s ratings, but both were brilliant today. For the first time Gooch has played 2 games in a row without any huge blunders like that 2nd Italy goal. If that means he has added consistency to his game–him and Demerit together in back make the US a team to reckon with.

    The only place I really disagree with your ratings is Clark, he had a great game. Watch it again, most of the times we were able to maintain possession for more than 2-3 passes Clark was involved. Unbelievable as it may seem, our midfield as a whole looked like they belonged on the field with Xavi and Spain’s midfield.

    Totally agree on the substitutions, Casey has no ability to hold the ball, what in the world was he doing on the field when we needed to kill off time??? Adu at least can attempt to hold the ball and draw fouls to kill off the clock. Why did Bradley bother bringing Adu to Africa, to keep the bench warm? While bringing on Bornstein at that time did not hurt the cause, surely it didn’t add any value either. Can’t really argue with bringing in Benny, he’s the perfect guy to exploit it when players get a little desperate and make some ill-advised stabs at the ball as happened on that one nice trip up the sideline.

    To expect Spain not to create some chances would be absurd. But with just a little bit of luck we were able to handle everything they threw at us. Now if we could get the referees of the world to respect us and not assume Americans can’t tackle without fouling. The red cards today and against Italy would have been questionable as yellows, not even close to reds.

    • My issue with Clark wasn’t necessarily his performance, just that I felt he faded quickly. He made a few decent runs, but the end product was mostly turnovers.

      He looked ok, but Bradley, Onyewu, and DeMerit covered a ton of Clark’s positioning problems.

      I do still think this was Clark’s best performance, but I also think this is probably the extent of his potential.

  6. I like the website, cheers, but lets be real, the ratings are a bit inflated due to the win. Great win! not a great game. Bob Bradley lacks any tactical understanding and it was evident in our poor team shape and our bad defensive steps. we worked very hard today and i loved it but we only worked hard because we dont know how to play smart. we gave up possession way too often and their is little movement off the ball. we dont play as a 11, but more like groups of two or three (on and off the ball). in summary great win but lets remember we lost 3-1 and 3-0, lets not settle. but to be fair below are my player ratings:

    Tim Howard: 10 – WOW! great showing

    Jonathan Spector: 8 – Good performance, needs to get my club experience

    Jay Demerit: 8 – not bad, but needs to hold the back four together a bit more, stepped out of shape too often

    Oguchi Onyewu: 8.5 – inspired showing today, one of his best, but that isnt very hard…he very strong but is a MUG and fouls constantly…he needs to improve because he could be great

    Carlos Bocanegra: 7 – Good showing for coming back of injury, he is a true captain and played well at the left back spot

    Ricardo Clark: 5 – His stock has dropped, he was clearly the weakest player on the field, he cant be in our best XI

    Michael Bradley: 9 – The red card was a bit over the top, but he was studs up…good showing

    Clint Dempsey: 7.5 – Lets not get ahead of ourselves he played well but he is no where near the player he could be, EXTREMELY TECHNICAL, great with the ball but he lacks an understanding of his role and responsibilities within the team shape

    Landon Donovan: 7 – Played well and showed a great work rate, but he is not the US Soccer savior that we have all hoped, he is an average player (Im sorry, i know im hurting some feelings)

    Charlie Davies: 7.5 – Buckets of pace, played great but has a lot to improve on…hopefully he gets his chances, he isnt our answer tho.

    Jozy Altidore: 8 – Great to see him find the back of the net but he was lucky Casilla wasnt at his best that moment (Great turn to beat Capdevila)

    Benni Feilhaber: 8.5 – Great player, has the composure that our midfield needs, has to be in our best XI

    Conor Casey: 1 – Bob Bradley must owe Casey money or lost a bet to him, because there is no rational thinking that puts Conor Casey in our national team roster for anything more than a friendly

    Jonathan Bornstein: 5 – needless sub (evidence of Bob Bradley’s lack of tactical understanding)

    Bob Bradley: 6 – good choice in the 4-4-2, good choice on 10 of the 11 starting XI (only took him 4 games), stupid subs that made little change to the game (subs are an extension of the coaach and his philosophy, so bad subs=bad coach

    John Harkes: -5 – I would rather listen to the game in Russian then listen to this idiot, great player but SHYT commentator, make obvious, uninteresting comments, has little insight to the game (Dear ESPN, stop hiring former player as commentators, it doesnt work…people go to school for broadcast journalism, try hiring them

    Man of the Match: Tim Howard – single handidly kept this game from being another embarrassing rout, if timmy can remain consistent, he could be the best gk in the world by 2014

    cheers, nussy

  7. US fans can’t get too carried away with this result. While there was great effort against the Spaniards, there are still serious kinks that need to be worked out in the midfield in particular.

    The most gratifying thing about this Spain upset was the fabulous play of the back line. Spector had an incredible first half, and stayed solid throughout the second half. Onyewu is getting a ton of credit for his effort and great work in the air, but he continues to make a lot of lazy clearances for corners and deep throw-ins. A lot of it looks like skill issues (missed volleys and such), but there needs to be enough composure from the central defense to get the ball to Bradley instead of off the foot for a corner. On another day that could have killed us. DeMerit was quieter than Onyewu but showed remarkable poise, particularly on that sliding stop on Torres off a Riera (?) cross right before the second Dempsey goal. I wish the guy was younger so he could stick around a bit longer, but hey, I can’t complain about his emergence. Bocanegra was not at his best, but he’s out of match form, and is clearly the best LB option we’re going to get.

    The US goalkeeping is never really a concern. Howard played well, and was consistent in his crazed tantrums that nobody seems to listen to. Howard is fine.

    The back five were great, as plenty have attested to, and I think that if these guys are all healthy they should be sure starters in the World Cup. Whether or not Bradley will figure this out is another story, but that’s another point. We still have to figure out the front six, however.

    Michael Bradley and Charlie Davies have demonstrated that they are in the Best XI for the US, I think. Everyone else is up in the air. Bradley has emerged as an impressive holding midfielder. He still forces some long balls, but overall he is distributing quite well and is adept at making important tackles. I don’t know if he is good enough defensively to hold down the mid against top-tier teams with the likes of Donovan, Dempsey, Adu, Torres, and Feilhaber (none of whom are noted for their defense) playing in front of him, but that’s a tall order for anybody. I think it’s clear that he’s the best holder we’ve got. Ricardo Clark played well today, but as has been mentioned, his ceiling is a lot lower than other players who need midfield playing time.

    It might seem premature to declare Davies a lock for the Best XI, but he has been as dynamic during the past couple games as any US forward in recent memory. He’s not the most skilled guy we’re going to see, but I think it’s important for the US to have a workhorse like him in the game considering that Altidore and Dempsey in particular have difficulty consistently staying in the game. He makes intelligent runs and has the burners to keep opposing defenses hanging back a bit. He doesn’t make Eddie Johnson-esque dumb decisions at the last minute either. I would like to see Davies in the lineup as much as possible.

    I was disappointed in Altidore today. Yeah, it’s clear he has loads of potential, and he scored, and it’s probably the best decision in terms of preparation for the 2010 WC to give him playing time, but he remains lazy and largely ineffective. Part of this is because Bradley tries to make him a target man, which he isn’t, but it would be nice to see him break a sweat when he plays. He doesn’t pursue balls in the defensive third – one ball that trickled out of play off of Davies’ head in the early going against Spain is a huge example. He could have gotten the ball in the corner and created another chance instead of giving up a goal kick. It was very early in the game, so I don’t know what the deal was. He’s also too often unfocused with his first touch. Some balls played up the field were not settled properly. Jozy just needs to figure out whether he should turn or lay the ball back where he’s facing. It’s not too difficult, but he’s struggled immensely, and the US needs to do whatever it can to get more possession. Altidore needs an attitude shift. If he continues to play lazily and act like a hotshot, the US can easily throw Dempsey up top. Dempsey plays better up there anyway.

    The challenge is to figure out the midfield situation. If Bob can navigate this minefield then the US might be able to perform like a legitimate side in SA. Bradley, Donovan, and Dempsey are regulars who I can’t really complain about. Feilhaber is getting some time. Adu and Torres aren’t, but should be given a chance in the Gold Cup, etc. Beasley, Edu, Clark, and Kljestan will tempt Bradley, but hopefully he is willing to step away from vets/those with whom he has relationships.

    My ideal lineup:

    Spector DeMerit Onyewu Bocanegra
    Dempsey/Torres Donovan
    Altidore/Dempsey Davies

    What do you guys think?

  8. Something to remember is that we will have a new defensive midfielder in August – Jermaine Jones. Right now, he’s better than pretty much any midfielder we can put out. His pairing with Michael Bradley could end up being a massive gift from the soccer gods.
    Jones is passionate, aggressive, and plays with some real fire in him – something that we don’t always get from our team.

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