USA v. El Salvador – The Ratings

Well, it wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win.

At some point, though, the US coaches have to stop pulling everyone out of attack after we go up a goal and playing this hyper-conservative, hyper-defensive style. We invited El Salvador into our goalbox for the final 25 minutes, and it almost cost us precious points.

Anyways, here are my ratings:

The Starters

  • Tim Howard – 5 – A surprisingly soft showing from Howard, as he let in a goal that he probably should have saved.
  • Jonathan Bornstein – 0 – The first “0” I’ve ever given in a ratings post. Bornstein should never have been on this team, let alone in the starting lineup. He gave the ball away on almost every touch, he played kick ball all night, and he constantly got beat to his position and beat by his marks. Abysmal, awful, dreadful. Just pick a word.
  • Carlos Bocanegra – 4.5 – A poor showing from the captain, but it’s hard to judge him harshly in an entirely new backline, especially given that his outside back (Bornstein) was so bad. He didn’t play well, but I feel like it wasn’t entirely his own doing.
  • Chad Marshall – 5 – Ok, this is an interesting player. On the one hand, he displays great touch on the ball with his passes, and even a fair amount of vision. On the other hand, he’s quick to panic and boot the ball long. Not a terrible thing for a defender, but not what you would expect from someone with the apparent skill level that Marshall has. My biggest problem with Marshall is that he’s a very high risk defender, and as a center-half, that isn’t good. He gambles on aerial challenges that tend to take him well out of position, and it hurts his central partner and causes spacing issues with his defensive mids. If the US played with a more advanced central pairing, or even just 1 holding mid, Marshall’s gambling would be less of a problem, but too often he was winning challenges over his own midfielders. Also, he’s not the most aware defender against an attack, as he got beat on more than a few occasions with simple passes. He seems to struggle to decide when to sit back and when to pressure, and his indecision almost cost us dearly on a few occasions. He’s a solid central player, but I’m just not sure he fits well into this team. However, I’d like to see him get to Europe soon so that he can face some attacking units that challenge his positioning and awareness more than MLS teams can.
  • Jonathan Spector – 5.5 – Offensively, he was a bit off. His short passing was good, but his crosses just didn’t have it tonight. He’s spent the better part of the last month playing left back, so the change back to the right side might have thrown him a bit off. Who knows? Otherwise, I thought his defending was solid and his positioning is typically his best attribute. He rarely puts his teammates in a bad position on defense and he often uses some real savvy to slow down defenders on the break. He’s just a kid that understands defense through and through.
  • Landon Donovan – 6 – Donovan had a typical performance: lots of botched passes and crosses, but he gets so many chances that eventually he gets some good ones through. His set pieces were pretty weak, but we made good use of the few good ones he got in. His counter-attacking looked off, but I think it had a lot to do with Bornstein’s poor showing. He still pushes too far inside for my liking, and even had trouble with Dempsey crowding the middle too, but it was a reasonably good showing from Donovan.
  • Benny Feilhaber – 7 – Why in the world did we take him out in favor of Kyle Beckerman? Feilhaber controlled the game with his ability to dictate the tempo of play. He knows when to move the ball quickly and when to settle it down, something we sorely miss with guys like Rico Clark or Kyle Beckerman in the game. Defensively I think he’s better than he gets credit for, he just doesn’t make as many rash challenges as Clark or Beckerman. Also, it should be noted that Feilhaber always seems to make Bradley play better.
  • Michael Bradley – 7 – I think we saw the full range of Bradley’s passing today, as he made a wide array of passes both short and long. This was one of his better efforts and I think anyone crying “nepotism” needs to pipe down.
  • Clint Dempsey – 4.5 – It’s hard to say someone was really bad when they score such a crucial goal, but Dempsey is driving me to it. Unfortunately, it looks like he’ll always try to be flashy, and it constantly killed off attacks. His goal was well-taken, but he had about 5 or 6 golden chances that he badly missed, so his conversion rate on the night is pretty poor. For all his ability, we should hold him to a much higher standard than we do.
  • Charlie Davies – 8 – While he didn’t score, it’s hard to overlook the impact “Chuck D” has on this squad. His speed, hustle, and newly-found skill have made our attack undeniably dangerous. I have criticized Davies for his lack of skill on the ball before, but tonight he displayed an array of 1v1 skills and confidence to beat any defender in 1v1 situation. In only a few weeks, his move to Ligue 1 has done wonders for his game and his confidence.
  • Jozy Altidore – 9 – And to think there were actually people suggesting he should sit in favor of Stuart Holden or Brian Ching? Ridiculous. This kid simply performs when he puts on a USMNT shirt. He showed a surprising amount of touch tonight and his typical predatory instincts in front of goal. He should have had 2 goals, but that official was out of his mind.

The Subs

  • Stuart Holden – 5 – I know a lot of people are high on him, but I remain skeptical of his worth. He got forward and provided 1 good cross again tonight (like against Mexico), but he fails to maintain much possession and generally looks a bit lost on the field. He’s clearly a talented player, but he’s fairly error-prone and doesn’t have a real position on the pitch. I’m just not a fan, but I understand those who rate him higher.
  • Kyle Beckerman – 2 – Pointless sub. He immediately made 3 or 4 rash challenges and looked well out of his league. He doesn’t belong in this squad or on the field for any team in World Cup Qualifiers. He saw the field because it was his home field, which says a lot about our staff’s priorities.
  • Jose Torres – N\A – He gets no rating because he was only on for a few minutes, but his header was thunderous. If he played in MLS instead of Mexico, Bradley would be starting him ahead of Feilhaber, but instead he can barely get minutes. He deserves to play ahead of Holden and Beckerman.

The Coaching

  • Once again, I’m left questioning the coaching acumen of our staff. Bradley is showing blatant favoritism again, allowing Bornstein to go the full 90 and almost cost us crucial qualifying points. Our substitution patterns show no consistency and make little sense. We constantly make subs based on what field we’re at (Beckerman in Salt Lake, etc) in order to get players “a nice runout in front of their home fans” – that’s nice, if we were playing a friendly. In WCQ, we shouldn’t be making decisions based on what fans we’re in front of. Lastly, I’m getting sick of our hyper-conservative “bunker” tactics whenever we have a lead. It doesn’t work against good teams and it barely worked tonight against a poor team.
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8 Responses

  1. Mostly good points, but I rate Holden a little higher. He had some good looks tonight, and didn’t do anything particularly incriminating.

    I do like your “0” for Bornstein, lol. All throughout the match, I found myself shouting “WHY IS HE HERE?!” At first, I was mad at him, but then I realzied: it’s not his fault he sucks. It’s the coaching staff’s, for playing him.

    On another note, I switched over to the TFC-Rapids game immediately after the US game. Conor Casey looks SO good for the Rapids, I really can’t fault Bradley for calling him up. He’s just so confident, poised, and aware of his surroundings. It really puzzles me as to why he can’t succeed with the Nats. He’s better than Ching could ever be, in my book.

  2. Beckerman deserved the zero Bornstein got. They were both bad but Beckerman nearly singlehandedly gave away the game on multiple occasions. Ridiculous he was on. Hey, my dad’s from Trinidad. You think Bob will spot me some minutes Wednesday night?

    M. Bradley drives me nuts. He’s the most undisciplined player I’ve seen in some time. He goes to ground too frequently, gets frustrated by calls and takes himself out of the game. He’s on defense what Dempsey is on offense, reckless. Dempsey’s result in blown chances, Bradley’s going to get himself a card or give up a great opportunity. This guy is supposed to be our defensive mid. Would it kill his dad to tell him to play under control?

    I hope Davies is fit for TnT. He and Altidore are the two US players that I have faith in right now. They get it. Hopefully Bradley gets it and never sits either again. I do wish Torres would see some action, but that would come at the expense of Feilhaber. I do think Holden deserved a better rating. He was off early but regained himself and contributed. If not for an amazing save, he should have had an assist on a Torres goal.

    And I hate blaming the officials. I think many US fans do it too much when our players do stupid things like go to ground any time they lose a step on their man. But that call (Dempsey on a follow through? Really??) that disallowed the third goal might be the worst call I’ve seen. And I thought the penalty in the English friendly today was atrocious.

  3. Howard-5. He made a mistake on the goal. It is his inability to judge crosses and have random lapses that cost him his spot at Man Utd.

    Marshall-5. If he is the next best centerback going into the world cup then I am worried. He is just really slow so he attempts to make up for it by being really aggresive. I have long compalined about his constant boot the ball approach.

    Bocanegra-5.5 It is hard to judge Bocanegra in this game considering he had Bornstein on his left. I am not a fan of Bornstein as he is prone to the mental lapse when he is playing centerback.

    Bornstein- -1. He gets an assist for the El Salvador goal, absolutely emberrasing. This is the first time I have ever thought a player on the national team was a negative contributor. It was a prime example of a MLS player panicking on the internaitonal level. I do not know why he did not just play the ball out of bounds. He was non existant in terms of attacking and he can not defend. Absolutely useless.

    Spector-7. It may seem a little bit high and he did get beat a couple of times, but his ability to cross the ball is fantastic. I am happy to finally see the end of Hejduk on the national team. Finally a right back that has size, athleticism and skill.

    Donovan-6.5. He made some good runs and had the assist on the Altidore goal. His set pieces really do leave something to be desired. Sometimes I think that he goes too far inside and congests the midfield.

    Feilhaber-8. Finally no more Clark. Feilhaber showed composure and the ability to pass the ball. He really does work well with Bradley.

    Bradley-8. With Feilhaber in the game you get to see the best out of Bradley. Some of his passes were really nice. He made good runs and got forward.

    Dempsey-5. Blew a couple of chances that he should have buried. He always seems to run out of steam towards the end of the game.

    Davies-8. Showed great speed and the ability to take poeple on. Works well with Altidore and should start every game.

    Altidore-8.5. All this guy seems to do is score goals. Works well with Davies and it is a disgrace that Ching ever starts in front of him.

    Subs.

    Holden-5. He had one nice cross and that is about it. I do not know what to make of him until he plays against quality competition.

    Beckerman-1. I am not a fan of the headless chicken. Runs around and has no real skill. Is not international quality. I do not care if it was infont of his home crowd, this is not senior day at some crappy college basketball game.

    Torres-N/A. I want to see this kid get a start. I am sick of seeing Beckerman and Clark get chances infront of him.

    Bob Bradley-0. Holding on to a 2-1 lead against El Salvador at home, really? Why he does not make subs early I do not know. Everybody get ready to watch us go 3 and out at the world cup with this clown in charge.

    Harkes just shut the hell up. I am sick of hearing about your glory days. You and Wynalda are to of the biggest blowhards on T.V. You actually made me wish for Bretos and Sullivan.

  4. Just got back from the game. I stand by my thoughts on Spector vs. Cherundolo. IMO, many of everyone’s ratings for Jon are far too high. He was thoroughly beaten the entire first half, made errant passes to no one, and did not get forward very effectively. His second half was better but he was out of position many times and just looked lost at times. I’m being harsh but after listening to everyone say he’s “clearly a better defender” than Dolo, his performances at WH of recent (even at LB) and tonight leave me to believe he has a lot to work on before we see him play every game as he did in SA.

    He had an average/below average game. He was a 3 or 4. At best. I hope to see Dolo start Wednesday.

    Overall, a disappointing effort by our team. Why we are content to sit back and let teams – esp inferior opponents – have possession is lost on me. I’m getting very tired of Bob Bradley’s tactical approach to our games. While we missed several close ones, we also let El Salvador have entirely too many chances in the last third.

    GREAT atmosphere tonight. Second best I’ve experienced for the Nats; only behind a USA/Mexico WCQ at Columbus.

  5. Nice summary and player ratings. Bob Bradley has to go. His player use and tactics are horrible. No MLS players other than Donovan should ever see the field in a game that matters for the US. None of them are world class players. The fact that Bob can’t see this and continues to play the Clarks, Bornsteins, Beckermans, etc. of the world is testament to his incompetence. Beckerman and Bornstein are flat out embarrassing. Will Bob even realize that we lost all ability to pass the ball through the midfield once he made the inexplicable decision to remove Feilhaber? I think it’s time to use Dempsey as a forward substitute and give Torres the starts. We need people that can complete passes and show basic soccer competence.

  6. I have bitched and bitched about things in previous matches. I now have a new strategy. I will say one simple statement after every match, no matter the out come until we have a coach that is not a fucking cork soaker:

    Bob Bradley sucks.

    • Good strategy. It’s not worth wasting the time complaining about specific things. It just makes you angrier. I will join you in this endeavor.

  7. what a great site and informative posts, I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

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