USA v. Panama – The Ratings

As is my custom, I’m getting the ratings done quickly after the game, while it’s still fresh.

Starters

  • Troy Perkins – 6 – Quality game between the sticks with little to do. The goal was certainly no fault of his.
  • Heath Pearce – 5.5 – A lot of effort from the left back, but his crossing and passes still let him down too often.
  • Chad Marshall – 6 – Good stuff from Marshall, as he won a lot of balls in the air. The biggest issue I see with him is that he roams a bit too much looking for headers, and he’s out of position quite a bit because of it.
  • Jimmy Conrad – N\A – Tough luck getting that blow to the face. He played well, but I’ll refrain from rating him due to injury.
  • Jay Heaps – 4.5 – Much better from the right back, but it certainly couldn’t have been worse than his showing against Haiti. He’s quite reckless with his tackles and challenges, often over-committing to plays. Good showing from him, given that he’s well out of his depth.
  • Robbie Rogers – 3 – I’m probably one of the few, but I’m convinced we’ve seen all we’ll ever see from Rogers. He’s extremely one-dimensional, and the Panama defenders figured him out with a quickness. It concerns me, too, that he can’t cross from in front of his body, as he constantly strikes the ball well behind his plant foot. It causes a lot of his crosses to be late and get blocked.
  • Logan Pause – 3.5 – Invisible for 90% of the game. He stepped up and played relatively well in the final 10 of regulation and through some of overtime, but for a central player he barely had any impact at all. He’s a poor defender and seems timid on the field. I hope we see Sam Cronin against Honduras.
  • Kyle Beckerman – 5.5 – I’ll likely be in a minority on this one, but Beckerman had a rocky game again. Had he not scored, he would be rated below a “5”. He makes some good plays here and there, especially defensively, but he’s reckless on both sides of the ball. His touch is just abysmal and he often makes things tough on himself with it.
  • Stuart Holden – 6 – A relatively quiet showing from Holden, but I think it has to do with sticking him out wide. He plays in some wonderful balls, but it’s pretty easy to see his natural inclination is play inside. He just doesn’t ever look comfortable as a winger.
  • Davy Arnaud – 5 – Lots of effort, but not a lot of production. As a Man United fan, he reminded me a lot of Ji-Sung Park. Lots of running, some good plays, but never really threatening on goal or threatening to do anything of substance. I’d like to see him used as a winger against Honduras, where I think his work rate might be more useful.
  • Brian Ching – 5 – Mediocre showing from the striker. Sure, he won quite a few balls in the air and got fouled a good bit, but he should have done all that considering we played kick ball in his direction for 95% of the game. He had one good header and one other chance, but otherwise did very little of note. I probably should lower his rating a half-point for the terrible lead pass to Cooper near the end, as he held the ball too long and probably cost the USA an easy goal.

The Subs

  • Clarence Goodson – 5.5 – A quality showing under weird circumstances for Goodson. He came in and made some good plays and generally played mistake-free. Not the best, but certainly one of the better players on the field.
  • Kenny Cooper – 6 – This was definitely a good effort from Cooper, and it should earn him the start against Honduras on Thursday. He didn’t do as much aimless running as Arnaud, but he was instantly a threat on goal when he stepped on the field. He was unafraid to let loose on goal, and it was his strong play that led to the PK.
  • Brad Evans – N\A – He only played a few minutes.

Coaching

  • Bob Bradley – 3.5 – He started out poorly by using Pause and Heaps. Neither’s play through the tournament warranted another start. Subbing out Arnaud was peculiar, especially since Rogers was clearly the least effective player on the field. He did bring on Cooper, though, he added punch to the offense and was responsible for the winning goal.
    It should also be noted that we’ve gone through 4 straight games now with no apparent game plan. Everything we do is just “long ball” play, and it’s making Bradley look like a pretty poor coach.
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13 Responses

  1. Just some of my thoughts.

    1. I think you may be a bit too harsh on Pause. He definitely had some positive moments today – certainly not a complete game, though. His distribution left something to be desired but I thought he gave tremendous effort. With that said, had you not known the line up, you would not have really been able to tell what position he was playing on the right.

    2. Rogers: Robbie had a tough night against relatively marginal competition. He finds his way into space and even receives balls well; however, his 1-on-1 attack and distribution left A LOT to be desired. Whenever something looked promising down the left that he was involved, it always deteriorated. Poor passing back to the middle, poor crosses from the wing, rarely did he ever break free from his defender to provide service. It’s frustrating because we need a true winger for our full side.

    3. Holden: He didn’t have a great game though he definitely did provide some nice passes and had some solid plays. I may be alone in this but i think he’ll have to develop his outside game to make a splash on the “A” squad.

    4. Defense: I was very impressed with Goodson. Didn’t know much about his game coming into this match but he was forced to step up immediately. Would love to see him get some more time to develop/show what he can do. Marshall had a decent game, as well. As did Pearce. One thing about this backline unit, though, is that it needs to shut down offense a bit more quickly and convincingly. There were some balls that hung around the box a bit too long.

    5. Subs: I still don’t understand why Cooper was brought in for Arnaud when Arnaud was one of the few offensive bright spots for the team, esp. in the second. He may not have been consistent all game but he made several great plays in the middle of the field and in the box. Ching still has yet to convince me and I would have liked to see Cooper replace him.

    Also, Bob, why did you wait so long to take out Rogers? We lost many, many balls along the left flank and we really need another body in that area of the field to possess the ball. A sub should have come earlier.

    Generally, I was glad to see a positive response coming into the second half in the form of using the mid and upping pressure. As one of the commentators stated, bypassing the midfield with long balls isn’t how soccer is to be played (BB, PLEASE TAKE NOTE). It’s just too bad we couldn’t maintain that early pressure through the rest of the second.

    Would love to see Cronin in the mix.

  2. I wouldn’t have known Pause was in the game until the middle of the second half. He did so little and seemed to barely touch the ball, that’s unacceptable for a center midfielder.

    I agree that Holden needs to be in the middle. Even when he’s placed on the wing drifts in a lot. When you have a playmaker like that you want him to be able to use the entire field. It’s like when Benitez thought it would be a great idea to put Stevie G on the wing and he completely disappeared.

    Arnaud’s place is definitely on the wings. His work rate screams outside mid and it is a much more defined role which will better suit him because I feel like his running gets him in trouble or out of position up top.

    I would’ve liked to see Quaranta come on for Rogers much earlier in the second half.

  3. Mr. Noel,

    Perhaps you did not notice but the US won the game. Which means you get to see more of Jay Heaps. I watched it on the JustinTV feed and turned off the sound. If you do this I think you tend to focus on different things. Rogers was easy to push off the ball. However, I notice when the ball went down that flank it tended to stay there, in their half, a long time. Even though Rogers did not beat his man too often, the ball often went right back to Pearce who often sent it back to Rogers who would go in and lose the ball to Panama who would then give the ball back to Pearce or Beckerman. This tells me what?

    I like that Rogers will keep taking on defenders. When you do that you lose the ball a lot but a funny thing is the offensive player can go at the defender 30 times and get tackled 28 times but if he beats the defender twice and gets in a good shot or a cross that results in a goal then he is ahead of the defense. For most of the game the Panama defense was overloaded on that side. This meant Panama had less time to attack the presumably weaker right side with your favorite, Heaps. I thought Heaps played well. I also noticed that the US, for the most part, went right down the middle fairly easily until they got to the box. Part of this may have been due to the preoccupation with Rogers/Pearce on the left, but a lot was also due to good short passing between Beckerman and others. His touch is not as bad as you make it out to be and that goal was worthy of Torsten Frings who Beckerman sometimes reminds me of. I realize a lot of people seem to think even this “C” team should be blowing away teams like Panama but I’ve watched an awful lot of international football and its just not that easy. I thought it was an entertaining game ( not just a long ball attack) where the US dominated a dangerous, if limited, opponent. I think you may be more concerned with style, while I am more interested in results.Nevertheless, I think only Ching goes to SA. Conrad, Holden, Beckerman, Cooper , in that order, are possible alternates. By the way, that lead pass Ching made to Cooper? I think he held it because he was afraid Cooper was offside.

    • “Perhaps you did not notice but the US won the game…I think you may be more concerned with style, while I am more interested in results.”

      The fact that you are putting so much stock in a win over Panama, and one in which they needed extra time to do so mind you, and excusing/deflecting most criticism simply because the referee awarded a PK to ensure a shaky win is the epitome of what’s wrong with U.S. soccer right now.

      We, as fans, need to demand far more of our team and specifically our coach if the U.S. is ever to emerge as a consistent international threat.

      “When you do that you lose the ball a lot but a funny thing is the offensive player can go at the defender 30 times and get tackled 28 times but if he beats the defender twice and gets in a good shot or a cross that results in a goal then he is ahead of the defense.”

      Well, with that logic then you could make DaMarcus Beasly’s abissmal play against Brazil in the Confed. Cup sound like a valuable addition to our left wing…

      When you turn the ball over as consistently as Rogers did that game it’s not only that you give up huge amounts of possession but also that you run the risk of giving up quick counter attacks (agian, DaMarcus Beasly-esque) and forfeit countless goal scoring oppurtunities. And, the thing is, Roger’s didn’t even get those 2 goal scoring oppurtunities…

      • A win is a win; it gives the US another game to evaluate this group, which is the reason for being in the tournament

        US fans already have over- inflated expectations of their team They have a run in SA that is beyond any reasonable expectation and all you hear is how their idiot coach screwed up the final and should have won it; this with a team composed of players who, with one or two exceptions, probably don’t make the squads of either Brazil or Spain. The US team is solid, powerful, in tremendous shape, committed, well-disciplined and courageous. On a given day, they can beat anyone in the world. They are capable of doing serious damge but in terms of individual talent don’t even think of comparing them man for man with Spain, Brazil or Italy. Sacriligeous as it is to say it, this is a tribute to the coaching staff. In terms of consistent international threat, I’m not sure what you mean. Read foreign websites and you will find that the US team is respected as very difficult to beat . And this was before the Confed Cup. I can assure you. no one wants the US in their group 2010 in SA (assuming we qualify).

        Rogers didn’t lose the ball so much as it was taken away from him. There is a big difference. And it seemed like most of the time he did he and Pearce played good defense and managed to get it back. Rogers/Pearce effectively closed down that side of the field for Panama. No quick counter attacks. There is no comparison with Beasley’s turnovers, which put the defense in a bind and led directly to goals.

        Finally, it was Roger’s cross that Arnaud headed down for Beckerman to blast in for the tying goal. Watch the replay.

  4. I am so sick of a player being described as hard working or gives a great effort. Every player that plays for the US team should work hard and give it all they have. I want players to be given props for their skill or technical ability. The mindset of US soccer that a hard working player like Hejduk is so valuable is what is holding us back. When I look at the team that played against Panama all I see is alot of mediocre talent. This boot the ball up to Ching crap has got to stop. Panama was playing so deep there was always four of five players back covering Ching. In a game like that we need to hold the ball and build up possesion, not play kick and chase.

    • Kyle:

      I’m not really sure if your comments were directed in part at something I posted (specifically, about Pause) but I certainly wasn’t giving him (or any other player, for that matter) a pass because he played hard. You did, though, hear is name called a lot in the second half and I think he worked hard to get himself involved – though, as I pointed out, his sharpness with his first touch and distribution showed signs of needed work.

      Sadly, “effort” was something we were all screaming for from our “A” squad in the first few games of the Confed Cup. You’re right, one should expect maximum effort from players privileged enough to be considered for the national side, but it is something the USA still struggles to maintain, sometimes.

      A player can certainly “make up” for – to a very finite extent – what they may lack on a technical level. With that said, I will take technical ability any day – hustle is certainly not enough to be competitive and advance the game and your example of Hejduk is well made.

      Unfortunately, we still have this “being competitive is good enough for us” mentality that drove me insane after everyone deemed the Confed Cup a success when real tactical/coaching issues were uncovered, IMO. Besides, weren’t we celebrating being competitive in 2002? But I digress…

  5. I thought Pierce was one of the bright spots. He was all over the field and I felt was strong on defense.

    The 3 you gave Rogers might be generous. He was one of the worst players on the field and his inability to take his man 1 v 1 hurt the US attack on that side. He never pressed the Panama defense. Even if it ended up back in US possession after he lost the ball, it still gives Panama’s defense a chance to regroup. It also forces our backs to play further up, and that would hurt us against a better side.

    I’m not even sure what to make of Ching. He wasn’t awful though his delay on the break at the end of the second have of extra time did cost the US a goal. The problem isn’t Ching, it’s that the US attack becomes blase lob, lob lob into the box when he’s out there. That’s Bradley’s fault, not Ching. The US’s best chances almost all came when they attacked on the ground, not long ball. And Cooper deserves props for playing well off the ball, something I didn’t see a lot of US players doing last night. There were a few times he made runs and no one bothered to find him. Hopefully the results he’s gotten will earn him a start for Honduras.

    My biggest complaint from last night though was the commentary on FSC. As Kyle said, I’m tired of hearing about how great the hard workers are. I also was annoyed with Bretos complaining about the officiating for 105 minutes, only to say everything is fine because the Cooper won a penalty. Either the officiating is poor or it isn’t and he was back and forth all night on it. Look I understand that it’s a US broadcast and you are going to pull for the team. We all are. But it’s hard to get a critical sense of the team and where it needs to improve when excuses are being made constantly for Bradley, Ching, Pause and Rogers. (Though they were as critical as they could allow themselves to be with Rogers last night)

    • Jabber:

      I’m with you on the Bretos commentary and I had the same “huh?” moment when he seemed to forget all of his complaints as soon as the penalty was awarded.

      What made me chuckle the entire game was that you could sense his counterpart – his name escapes me now – was biting his tongue at some of the things Bretos said.

      A lot of people were hard on Harkes and Lalas during the Confed Cup and, while they may be annoying in their own ways, I enjoyed the fact they were very critical at some points of the team and certain players.

  6. Ryan, you’re not alone one Rogers. We should just give up on him; he doesn’t have much talent. Pause or Rogers should have been subbed out in the 75th for an attacking player (if we’re not gonna use Santino Quaranta, we’d really appreciate him back here in DC! Thanks!). I think a 3.5 for Bradley is VERY generous. His starting lineup was questionable at best, and his subs made you scratch your head as well. Cooper for Arnaud? Why? Arnaud had been (arguably) our best offensive player to that point. Why not sub out Rogers, and have Arnaud drift back into an attacking midfield role? Then, he left Rogers in until the SECOND HALF of OVERTIME!!!! This is inexcusable! There is no legitimate reason to keep him in there! The only argument I can think of is that Bob didn’t want to mess up the chemistry. To which I reply: really? Yea, that chemistry had gained us a lot, hadn’t it?! A freakin 1-1 tie with Panama should be considered a DISGRACE!! This team isn’t even in the Hex! “C” team or not, we should be beating them in regular time, and the coach should not be a hinder to our ability to do so (which he was; he ALWAYS is).

    Maybe I’m just ranting because I hate Bradley and we only won because of a PK, but this result should not bring praise from fans; it should enrage them! I know I’m outraged!

    • Kevin,

      Imagine if the US had lost. I don’t think much of Rogers but how about this in his defense:

      Please read my previous post. Rogers/Pearce didn’t generate a lot of offensive opportunities but they did keep the ball down in the left half of the halfway line and just over it for a long, long time. It’s a little unusual but I notice Panama did not have a lot of time to attack down the wings and were overloaded onto that side. This served to protect Heaps. It also seemed to limit what Panamanian offense there was. In other words, while it wasn’t pretty Rogers/ Pearce were effective.

      Neither Arnaud or Cooper is likely to go the SA but Cooper is more likely to go than Arnaud. I love Arnaud but Cooper is an out and out goal scorer while Arnaud (and Ching) are not. Cooper’s competition is Jozy. Arnaud’s competition is Donovan and now Holden. So if you need a goal, you send on Cooper. Rogers was playing good defense and Arnaud looked gassed.

      By the way, i get that you have this foaming at the mouth, white hot hatred of all things Bradley but remember to enjoy the fact that the US won the game (yes they did) and now we get another game in which to see Jay Heaps play right back.

  7. I think I might have been watching a different game. I too watch the game without sound. The ESPN play by play guy is an idiot even after so many years of doing soccer and Harkes whines. The FSC guys are REALLY trying to make it look like everything is perfect. So I watch with my own thoughts on the game.

    What my eyes saw especially in the 2nd half and OT, was a bunch of MLS guys playing a level above the league in which they play. I saw passes connecting and possesion maintained. I was impressed. I was also impressed with the play of the RB of Panama. Before we send Rogers off to the golf course let’s give some credit to the guy playing opposite him. He was the best player on the field for Panama. he was soilid and went about his business. When Pearce over lapped his defense was equally as stout. Heaps BTW impressed me. He was doing a great job at covering the ccentral defense when they were out of position.

    D/t this blog I payed careful attention to Cooper when he was introduced. He seems to be playing at a sloer pace than everyone else. Despite that I thought he actuallly played a more phyiscal game. With more exposure to the international game he’ll get used to the speed of play.

    Overall, good game from a group of MLS players. I’m really hoping this group can win it all. I’m impressed.

    • Travis,

      I don’t know if you get the same feeling I do but it seems every time they pair a professional announcer with an ex-player or coach, with all due respect to these guys, they always come across like a used car salesman or an info-mmercial host. Of course, if Alexi is the ex-player that gives you two used car salesmen.

      Cooper is a different breed from all the other US strikers. He is an out and out goal scorer and he shoots with no conscience whatsoever. The majority of his shots are on target. He understands that any shot on target (or close) is better than no shot. You have to give the keeper and the defenders an opportunity to screw it up. The US has never really had a guy like him so it remains to be seen if they will work him into the team. There are notable exceptions but they usually have better club careers because international coaches often have a hard time trusting such players.

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