US vs. Canada 06/21/07 Gold Cup; Individual Player Ratings
First some general thoughts:
I didn’t feel that anyone played all that well. There were a lot of mixed performances out there. Bradley was the best player on the field in the 1st half, but slowly faded before he picked up an absolutely moronic red-card in the waning minutes. Beasley had his moments, but faded in and out of the game. Same with Dempsey. Donovan played well overall, but muffed a golden opportunity that could have sealed the game, although I do believe that chance was more difficult than it looked. Hejduk seems to be the consensus pick for Man of the Match, but he had a shaky start that included a near catastrophic back-pass to Keller.
Having said that about the individuals, I feel that, as a team, the United States did not play particularly well. In the last two matches, the US has highlighted what I believe to be one of the biggest weaknesses of American soccer. American teams do not adjust their approach to fit the situation. You see poor, for lack of a better word, game management in American soccer from National Team all the way down to MLS and college. When you get an inferior oppenent down 2-0, the game should be over. Canada and Panama should not have had the opportunity to tie the game up and send it to overtime (and, if it weren’t for inept officiating, Canada would have done just that). Last summer in Germany, did the Czechs give the US a glimmer of hope at 0-2? Not at all, they just added a third on an efficient, well-timed counter. The US committed way too many numbers forward when they got hit on the counter-attack that produced Hume’s goal. That is an inexcusable tactical error that almost winded up costing the US the match. With a two-goal lead, you need to be conservative about sending numbers forward, slow the game down, possess the ball, and very carefully pick your moments in trying to add a third. If the US does those things, there’s no way Canada finds a way back in that match. They probably would have begun mailing it in at about the 85th minute and the US could’ve cruised to the finish line. You see the same thing in MLS as well. I continously see teams get up two or even three goals and fail to put the game away. As an MLS fan who’s impartial to individual teams, I almost enjoy it because it makes for exciting finishes. However, with the National Team, I would rather see US victories than excitement.
Now for the individual rankings. Again, I didn’t feel as if anyone played great….
Keller: 5; shaky with his feet on a few occasions; nothing could be done on the goal; I expect to see Howard back in for the final
Bornstein: 5.5; I felt he played a little better than he has thus far in the Gold Cup, but still doesn’t seem to be the answer at left-back; if he’s made it this far, I’m assuming Bradley will stick with him for the final, especially with the Hejduk suspension
Onyewu: 5.5; miscue on dealing with an Onstad punt almost lead to an opening goal for Canada; otherwise did ok
Bocanegra: 4.5; allowed Hume too much space on the goal and continues to spray at least one or two balls out of play under no pressure; also had a few minor miscues; could have been sent off for the challenge on deGuzman
Hejduk: 6.5; could be Man of the Match by default; shaky start with a very poorly, underhit back-pass to Keller, but an extremely well-taken goal (probably one of the more clinical finishes in this tournement for the United States); plus, Frankie’s always a good guy in games like this because of his speed and work-rate
Beasley: 6; had his moments, but faded in and out of the action; great play to set-up Donovan early in the second-half and great work to earn the penalty; otherwise had a quiet game
Bradley: 5.5; best American player in the first half winning everything and displaying sharp, precise distribution; slowly faded out of the action in the second-half and ended his tounrnement early with a moronic red-card
Mastroeni: 5.5; nothing bad, nothing great; looked extremely tired in the second half and probably should have been substituted earlier
Donovan: 6; played well overall while setting up the first goal and converting the penalty for the second, but muffed a chance to seal the game
Dempsey: 5.5; overall a quiet game, but had his moments (magnificent ball to Beasley to draw the penalty)
Johnson: 4.5; don’t know where he was for most of the game; continues to mis-time runs and fail to generate any chances
Feilhaber: 6; provided a much-needed possession oriented player for the US off the bench in a position that he doesn’t seem to be all-to-familiar with; should start the final with Bradley out
Clark: N/A; not enough time; thought we should have seen him much earlier in this game
Twellman: N/A; also not enough time; may start the final woth Ching apparently injured and Johnson failing to seize his opportunity