USA v. Brazil – The Ratings

This is going to be tough, seeing as how some players varied wildly across both halves. But, as always, here’s my best effort and rating the USA team:

Tim Howard – 9 – Brilliant. In large part, he saved that game from getting ugly in the second half. Giving up 3 goals is tough, but it’s hard to say any of them were the result of his poor play. Normally, this would be an 8, but I had to reward him for the brilliant acting to keep the “shoulda-been” goal out and never letting the ref think twice about it.

Jonathan Spector – 8 – His defense on Kaka and Robinho was impressive, even if he did have one or two slip-ups. Name me another player in the US pool that could have stopped those the two Brazilian wizards as many times as he did? Gianfranco Zola has to be feeling pretty good about Spector replacing Lucas Neill.

Oguchi Onyewu – 10 – The big guy has been nothing short of spectacular all tournament long. Tying the game at the end on that last header would have been a fitting end for Gooch, but alas, it just wasn’t in the cards. Man of the Match. Man of the Tournament.

Jay DeMerit – 7 – A revelation at the back, DeMerit has had the people over on BBC’s website raving about his play. DeMerit once again put in a great performance, marred only by the goal Luis Fabiano put through his legs. Unlucky? Probably, but it’s the only poor thing he did in this game.

Carlos Bocanegra7 – I thought he handled the game quite well, especially since the 2nd half he was deserted on the left side by his winger. Maicon got free reign down that flank in the 2nd half, and Bocanegr was overrun by sheer numbers, rather than through fault of his own. I think it’s safe to say Bocanegra should stay at left back from here on out, as it certainly makes this USA defense a tough one.

Clint Dempsey – 6 – Unfortunately, we didn’t see a strong 90 minutes from Deuce. The first half was an extension of the Spain game – good defense, good shape, and overall great performance. The second half – not so much. He gave up defending the right side and allowed himself to play too far in the middle, leaving too much space for Spector to cover on his own. He was also poor defending crosses and corners, as he apparently ignored any need to defend the far post.

Rico Clark – 6 – Solid defense again from the strong central player. I still wish he could make quicker decisions on the ball, as he often can’t play 1-touch balls when he needs to. With a rumored move to Europe on the horizon, hopefully he can continue his improvement by playing in a tougher environment next season.

Benny Feilhaber – 8 – This could probably have been his best performance over 90 minutes had Bradley not foolishly taken him off the field. Feilhaber was showing surprising bite in his tackles (and even better timing) and playing better defense than he ever has. It’s too bad Bradley felt that Kljestan needed to play in his place.

Landon Donovan6 – I will gladly take some heat for this rating. Donovan had a 10 for the first half – great defense, great leadership, and a world-class finish. Unfortunately, I (and quite a few of my other soccer buddies) thought Donovan walked through the second half. He perked up for the runs forward, but basically hung Bocanegra out to dry on the left side. Because Donovan receives so much leeway and hype, I feel it’s only fair to hold him to a higher standard than the rest of this team. A better second half from Donovan could have been the difference between Silver and Gold.

Charlie Davies – 8 – I thought this was actually his best showing of the tournament. The one-time ball, while he was on a dead sprint, out in front of Donovan was absolutely brilliant. He pestered the backline relentlessly in both halves, and even had Lucio on the verge of losing his cool multiple times. His emergence is a great sign for the USMNT future, and hopefully he’ll continue his improvement with a new team this year.

Jozy Altidore – 7 – Not quite as active as Davies, but every bit the nuisance to the backline. He was shadowed closely by Lucio and Luisao, both of whom are veteran, physical center-halves. They did an excellent job of containing Jozy, who did quite well himself in adjusting to the physical play. I thought his effort was great and he did what he could to free up lots of space for the speedier players.
Subs

Sacha Kljestan – 1 – Pointless sub, again. He did nothing but trail plays and give away the ball.

Jonathan Bornstein – 3 – Brought some energy, but nothing more. Not quite sure what he was brought on to do.

Conor Casey – N\A – I’ll hold off on rating Casey, because he was only on for 3-4 minutes at most.
Coaching

Bob Bradley – 4 – I don’t think Bradley had any effect on this game, other than to hinder his own team. His subs made no sense and appeared to be simply “subs for the sake of subs”. Whatever he told the guys at half – it didn’t work.

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4 Responses

  1. I think much of the negative play we saw from Donovan and Dempsey in the second half can be attributed to the free reign they’ve been given by Bob Bradley. Players less assured of a starting spot were busting their asses while Landon and Deuce jogged. If they weren’t so sure that Bradley wasn’t going to pull them maybe we would see a little better effort when they get tired late. Though, I think it takes a bit of both. Bradley needs to realize he is the coach and he can pull either of them if they are dragging ass, and they need to realize that they should be giving it their all (especially in a cup final) and suppress their egos long enough to realize that if they are hurting the team because of lack of fitness they should be subbed when they are noticeably spent.

  2. Bryce:

    I think the other issue is that Bradley designs an odd midfield. The defensive backs sit far back and his two offensive mids sit high – or, as you put it, are allowed to roam high.

    Bradley’s midfield rarely holds a traditional shape with two outside mids and this was very obvious against Brazil as there was zero mid flank defense, especially in the second half. It’s a shame, too, because I thought Donovan and Dempsey tracked back well vs. Spain. When they don’t, the midfield gets stretched out and becomes porous.

    I think Bradley is ultimately going to have to alter that design to a diamond-like shape so that there is one set defensive mid, two true outside mids, and one attacking central mid. That or he’s going to have to let our defensive mids sit higher.

    Just my take.

  3. So who should get big transfers after this tournament? I’m thinking Onyewu, Donovan, Davies, Altidore (on loan), Clark, DeMerit, and maybe FAILhaber (I used to call him that jokingly last year, but he definitely deserves to be stripped of that title after his recent play).

    Donovan clearly doesn’t fit in Germany, so I hope he gets a shot in England or somewhere. Gooch should hold off on that Fernebahce offer for now; I’m sure someone in a better league wants him now. DeMerit plays for a decent Championship club, but some Premier team must want him (Birmingham and Fulham were after Gooch; here’s another promising American who is already used to England and can get right into the fix!). I’ve heard rumors already about Clark and Davies (Ives reported some this morning). I think it was Rico to Rennes with Boca (there may have been another team interested from the Dutch league), and Davies was being eyed by several Dutch, German, and French clubs. Altidore just needs some PT. I hope he gets lent to another Spanish team, because they will help him improve his technical skills. Right now his first touch is lacking, and I can’t think of anyone better than the Spanish to teach him how to fix that. And I know no one’s really talking about Benny, but I think he can do better than the Danish league. At least a move to the Dutch league would be good for his development.

    Backt o Donovan quickly, though: he is really being wasted in MLS. I love MLS, and defend it when people try to complain about the quality, but LD is truly being squandered at one of the worst organizations a pretty subpar league. He needs to go SOMEWHERE soon, because if he doesn’t, it’ll be too late, and he’ll be confined to mediocrity for the rest of his career.

    I can’t believe he’s still so young! He probably has at LEAST two World Cups left in him!

    • I know there are a few fans of Rico Clark out there, but I’m still not sold he’ll ever have the speed or quickness to succeed in Europe.

      In MLS, he’s a better athlete than most, but that won’t be the case overseas.

      However, if he does make it to Ligue 1, it can only help him.

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