USA v. Haiti – The Ratings

https://i0.wp.com/graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/01/29/sports/holden.190.jpg

It was pretty ugly, but one player shone brighter than the rest.

The Starters

  • Luis Robles – 6 – Tough first start for the young keeper. He had his nervy moments, but it’s certainly hard to fault him for the goals. He wouldn’t have saved the 2nd one even if he were in the middle of the posts.
  • Jay Heaps – 2 – I think we saw exactly why Heaps had the title of “most professional matches without a call-up”. He was awful.
  • Michael Parkhurst – 3 – I think we can finally put this little experiment to bed for good. Parkhurst is too slow, small, and weak to play center-half at the international level. Thanks for your time, here’s a parting gift.
  • Jimmy Conrad5 – He was better than his partner, but that’s not saying much. Conrad has a bad tendency to want to dribble out of every situation and it led to some tough spots. He defended reasonably well.
  • Brad Evans – 2 – Thanks for your time, Brad, we appreciate it. Unfortunately, Evans got thrown out at right back and he was visibly outmatched from the start. He has no business getting any other call-ups.
  • Colin Clark – 4 – He did some good stuff with the ball, but his crosses were never on target. He seems to have no ability to put in balls near the 6yd box, rather putting everything back past the penalty spot.
  • Stuart Holden – 9 – He had a fantastic match before the goal, so the goal just pushed him up to a 9. He definitely deserves more time and call-ups, way ahead of guys like Kljestan, Beckerman, Pause, etc.
  • Sam Cronin – 7 – I was very impressed with this kid in his first ever US match. He’s poised on the ball and has a good sense of when to play passes, making decisions notably faster than Beckerman and Pause have through the tournament. He’s not near as wild as Beckerman, but he’s far more effective.
  • Santino Quaranta – 5 – A bit of Cristiano Ronaldo syndrom in him today, as everything seemed to be a chance for him to play 1v1 against a defender. He’s got talent, but I just question his ability to use it well on the international stage. His first touch needs a ton of work.
  • Davy Arnaud – 5 – Quality strike for the goal, but ineffective the rest of the match. I certainly don’t expect much from him though, and he did put some pressure on the Haitian defenders. He got more service than Cooper did, but he didn’t do much with it.
  • Kenny Cooper – 5 – Hard to fault the big guy in this game. He made the runs and found space, but he got no service from Tino on the right side. The few times he got the ball, he was positioned too far wide to be effective. He is clearly talented and a quality striker, so I believe he definitely needs more time with the team.

The Subs

  • Beckerman – 3 – His touch is just awful. I’m not sure what the reason was for bringing him into the game given than Cronin and Holden were playing well in the midfield. I’m not sure he should start in the quarters.
  • Charlie Davies – 7 – As expected, he made an immediate impact. He’s just head and shoulders better than anyone not named Holden.
  • Brian Ching – 1 – Not sure what the point of this sub was either, and Ching did nothing on the pitch. Like him or not, he’s just not suited to being a sub.

The Coach

  • Bob Bradley – 1 – Hard to fault him for the starters, because he was getting everyone in that hadn’t played. It’s hard not to criticize him for the subs he made, though. Bringing in Beckerman and Ching was just a poor decision that makes me think he just doesn’t see the game that well. With a good central pairing, there was no need for Beckerman to make an appearance, especially at the expense of Santino. Clark and Heaps were getting abused on the left-hand side, so Pearce and Rogers would have been great subs instead of Ching and Beckerman. At some point, more of the soccer media needs to take the kid gloves off and start criticizing Bradley for his poor decisions.
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19 Responses

  1. I agree Parkhurst is not a international quality player. Heaps is clearly not good enough. Arnaud would struggle against quality opposition. Davies showed why he is the best striker the US has right now. Can we please never bring Ching on again as a sub. Why would you bring on Ching to hold the ball up when Haiti had dropped all their players back. Rogers should have come on at halftime for Clarke. This US side showed very little skill and technique, except for a few players.

    • Beckerman is much better than you give him credit for. Bringing on Davies and Beckerman changed the game, we had nothing going offensively in the 2nd half, and didn’t even have control of the ball. Replacing the outside backs would have been worthless (they were worthless in the game and shouldn’t play again) but we are trying to win the game, not sure up our defense. I would have brought on Feilhaber instead of Ching, but I was not surprised by Ching – although I agree he did almost nothing.

  2. A little too harsh on BB for me. I mean c’mon the US won the Group and he was just giving everyone else a chance to play. Now we know Parkhurst and Heaps cannot play at this level. We also found out that Holden has quality (almost two goals btw from 20 yds out each). However, I will agree with you on Ching. He’s not really the answer when you are a goal down or as a starter. The only was BB can justify that is if there was an injury we didn’t know about or tired legs.

  3. I dont care that the game was in New England this is not senior night at a crappy college basketball game, Heaps should never play. Bob Bradley should have just called in the U20 team for this tournament.

  4. I’d say you’re a little too harsh on Arnaud: his shot in the 66′ minute was the wakeup call for the U.S. in the second half. (It was the first U.S. shot of the second half.) I believe Davies was the spark, but Arnaud was the smoke.

    And I’m not ready to give up on Evans. He’s got tons of competition at midfield, his natural position, so he might have to convert to defense. But I can’t dismiss the guy because his first start at RB against a determined Haiti wasn’t great.

  5. I’m kind of surprised to hear that Beckerman played poorly. I liked him in the first two matches. He can be out of control with the ball but he still plays pretty poised most of the time and is all over the place.

    What scares me is that Holden was playing great in the middle and Bradley moved him outside. I hope that doesn’t become a trend as I don’t think he needs to be in the center of the park where he can have a greater effect on the game. I’d like to see a center mid combo of Beckerman and Holden or Holden and Cronin in the Quarters, though I feel we’ll get Beckerman and Pause.

  6. That should read “I think he needs to be in the center of the park…”

  7. Come on? A 1 for Ching? This is the second game in a row where his mistake led directly to a US goal. (The poor header attempt against Honduras and getting dispossessed so badly the ball went to Holden who fired in the equalizer). When he came in the offense became a bunch of long balls into the box. I didn’t think they’d score to be honest, so good thing Holden got that bounce.

    Davies makes me more and more optomistic about the future every time I see him play. He just has a nose for the ball and always seems to be around it, making things happen. Off the ball sense is something that has been notoriously lacking in years past for the US so it’s refreshing to see someone who has it.

  8. It didn’t matter if we lost , we were already through.
    When the subs came in the US was losing. They wound up not losing the game so the subs worked out. The team started bright, hit a bump and finished well. They got more insight into their player pool. You had 4 new caps and 6 first time starters, which amounts to a pickup team. In the latter part of the second half Beckerman did a good job of settling the midfield down. This Haiti team were not a bad team, very good on the ball. Overall,there were far more positives than negatives so I think you are too harsh on the USMNT.

  9. Generally, I agree with your ratings although a couple ratings were a little bit harsh.

    Bradley’s “1” was a little harsh, I’d give him a “2” simply because I didn’t think that Beckerman was quite so bad and he didn’t remove Holden or Cronin. On the other hand, I was convinced that we wouldn’t score once Ching came in. The team seemed to revert to mindlessly putting balls in the box hoping some head would put it on frame. All the creative energy that Holden and Cronin had provided seemed to have been sucked out of our attack. Holden provided Bradley the get out of jail card in spite of his crummy coaching.

    Nonetheless, a coach getting a “2” shouldn’t be leading us to the WC, but any hope of removing Bradley left when our miracle in South Africa occurred.

    Bringing Ching was as predictable as the rising of the sun. Seeing how Bradley would bring Casey on against Spain and Brazil makes Ching’s appearance a no-brainer. The problem with Bradley is that he seemed oblivious to how much it hurts the team. The presence of these target men kills the offensive flow of the team, and they provide nothing defensively. Davies was dangerous and effective until Ching appeared, once Ching came in Davies almost disappeared. The team would almost be better off ignoring the target man and playing as if they were a man down.

    Maybe we’d be better off to consider the positives from the match. Holden should have locked down a spot on the team for the foreseeable future. He was very good start-to-finish. Kronin looked extremely good as his partner. I thought Arnaud deserved a “6,” he was generally effective the entire match.

    This game provided yet more evidence at the USA’s deepest problem: our lack of any quality at outside back. Throughout the Confederation’s Cup and now the Gold Cup, the play of our outside backs has been horrendous on both sides of the ball. They can’t defend well and they can’t attack. I think we need to seriously consider converting some of our quality at center midfield to outside back. At least one of those guys has to be better than our pool of players at this (critical) position. This problem is bad enough to outweigh Bradley’s obsession with target man forwards as our biggest problem. If we want to progress past the group stage in the WC next year, curing this should be a priority.

  10. I think we’ve solved the outside back problem for the foreseeable future with Bocanegra and Spector. Cherundolo is a nice backup because he can play either wing (as can Spector), and Peace and Bornstein are clearly better than Davis and Heaps.

    • Boca and Spector are light years better than the Gold Cup crew, but neither is good enough if we want WC success. On attack perhaps only Frankie Hjeduk has any attacking prowess, and his time on the National team has to be drawing to a close. All the rest of our outside backs are weak defensively and poor attackers. They produce of constant stream of aimless long balls that gift possession to our opponents. For the target man offense favored by Bradley only Spector has shown any ability to deliver the ball on target.

      As discussed by Jonathan Wilson (who wrote “Inverting the Pyramid” a treatise on soccer tactics, an awesome read) the outside back may be the most important position on the pitch, and given the US’s weakness there, our achilles heel.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2009/mar/25/the-question-full-backs-football

      By the way his column is absolutely wonderful, especially when he comments on tactics.

      • I wouldn’t call what Hedjuk does “attacking prowess.” Hustling is a great quality in a soccer player but it doesn’t make up for his obvious deficiencies. He is a mediocre defender at best (though his hustle can sometimes cover for that), he is a terrible crosser and does little to help us when he goes forward other than getting himself out of position. I agree with Ryan that Spector should be our right back going into WC2010 and I think you underestimate both Boca and Spector. Watch that Brazil game again. Before Donovan and Dempsey abandoned the defense and Maicon started crossing everything that moved Spector and Bocanegra were fantastic. Spector flustered WORLD CLASS playmakers like Robinho and Kaka for most of the game. Boca (even hampered by an injury) was also very strong at outside back but was stranded by Donovan to cover the entire left side for most of the second half. I think the back 4 of Spector, Gooch, Demerit/Edu, and Boca is going to be quite tough when the World Cup comes around.

  11. So after this disgrace, I think we just need to clone Stuart Holden 12 times and start him at every position and sub him in for everyone.

    In all seriousness, I think our best Starting XI for the next round (minus any Confed Cup players who are called in) is:

    Perkins
    Dolo-Marshall-Goodson/Conrad?-Pearce
    Beckerman-Holden
    Quaranta-Rogers
    Davies-Cooper

    or any variation formation-wise of those 11 players. Maybe Holden should be played a little higher in the middle of Tino and Robbie, in a 4-1-3-2 kind of thing. Then again, maybe Bradley doesn’t give Tino another shot after a subpar performance last night. He has a history of sticking with people he likes and writing guys off after one bad performance (remember Coop after the Sweden game?).

    I really am not liking Arnaud one bit. The goal would have been put away by anyone not named Eddie Johnson, and he really provided nothing but turnovers and missed chances all night. He is really good for KC, but apparently can’t translate that into the USMNT. Colin Clark was just dreadful all night. These two guys, in my eyes (along with Heaps and Parkhurst), should not make it anywhere near the pitch for the rest of the tournament.

  12. Robles a 6? He was absolutely to blame for both goals. The first one he could and should have gotten a fist too. A real lack of conviction in his swipe. On the second he was completely out of position. Would he have saved that shot? Maybe and maybe not, but he gave himself no chance by chasing out for the ball when he was never going to get anywhere near it and/or not calling Heaps off. All in all, he deserved no better than most of the rest of the team, which, I agree were largely in the 2-4 range.

    • I can’t defend the first goal (though whoever got turned around 3 times by the Haitian who crossed it should be taken out back and shot, that was embarrassing and I think it was heaps.) On the second goal it depends on if he called off his defender. He was coming out to grab it and his defender cleared it away from him. If his defender doesn’t touch it Robles grabs it no problem. Then again if he didn’t call for it than its his fault for trying to come out and get it.

      • Yeah I think Robles is to blame for both goals. If he was calling him off on the second then, yes Heaps shares the blame. Either way both those guys had a bad game, and I don’t think we’ll see them the rest of the tournament.

      • Being a keeper, I can understand where Robles had issues with both goals.

        On the first, that lofted ball to your back post is one of the most difficult to handle, because you’re having to adjust your body and judge the ball at the same time, all the while worrying about where the line is.
        Frankly, Parkhurst and Evans were majorly at fault for doing nothing on that back post, because it was clear that Robles was going to struggle to reach the ball.
        Also, it’s hard to forget how badly Heaps got abused in that play.

        On the second, you can complain about his position all you want – he wasn’t saving that rocket whether he was in position or not. That ball went on a straight line, 8ft above the ground into the furthest corner of the goal – in a keeper’s world, that’s the unsavable ball.
        He came out hard for that first run, but the defender stepped in and made a play, causing Robles to be out of position. However, it just wouldn’t have mattered.

  13. Maybe Bradley wanted to give Pearce and Rogers after playing the full 90 in the first 2 matches, and those 2 were key in the 6 points we gained from those 2 matches. I’m just guessing why he didn’t bring those guys in.

    He brought in Beckerman because Cronin, as well as he played offensively, was getting burned by the Haitian midfielders. He moved Beckerman to where Cronin was and Holden out to the right, and voila, the US dominated possession after that.

    He subbed out Cooper because he was invisible and never looked like he was going to score, even if he was paired with Davies. Even if Ching wasn’t going to score, he still creates opportunities, as he did (unintentionally).

    Bradley isn’t a guru, but I did like his subs on Saturday night.

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