Posted: Saturday March 26, 2011 9:56PM ; Updated: Saturday March 26, 2011 11:54PM
Steve Davis
Steve Davis>INSIDE SOCCER

U.S.-Argentina player ratings

Story Highlights

Once again the key man was goalkeeper Tim Howard with some huge saves

Jozy Altidore struggled as lone forward but improved when U.S. switched to 4-4-2

Landon Donovan was quiet on the offensive end but worked hard defensively

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Jozy Altidore
U.S. striker Jozy Altidore (center) was isolated in the first half but came alive in the second.
Don Emmert/Getty Images

Rating the U.S. team's performance against Argentina:

GK, Tim Howard, 9 -- Matches against Argentina seem to bring the best from him. He was outstanding once again, just as he was the last time these teams met in New York. Howard was well positioned throughout, which meant he wasn't really tested through the first 40 minutes even though the visitors took several attempts at goal. He was helpless as Esteban Cambiasso was left unmarked on the point-blank follow-up shot. A couple of outstanding saves after the break helped keep the draw.

RB, Jonathan Spector, 5 -- He wasn't bad, especially as Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marcos Rojo pressed hard along his side. Spector never really got up the field as Rojo was so quick to come forward from his defensive spots. Still, it's hard to call it a good night when he never offered anything going forward.

WAHL: Three thoughts from the U.S.-Argentina draw

CB, Jay DeMerit, 6 -- There were some great moments for the Vancouver Whitecaps' man, as when he dispossessed Leo Messi on a couple of times, which seems like a scientific impossibility. But he also had some terrible moments. His indefensible giveaway in the second half nearly turned this worthwhile tie into a loss for the home side. And his flailing attempt at a clearance was critical in abetting Argentina's goal, as the ball pinged right back into danger before the rest of the defense could take a breath.

CB, Oguchi Onyewu, 5 -- His defending wasn't awful, but his perennially rash distribution was pedestrian at very best. Onyewu looked painfully slow and indecisive on one early sequence when he nearly gave Argentina an 8th-minute goal.

LB, Carlos Bocanegra, 6 -- The veteran had some trouble against Argentina's little dribbling wizards, just like his fellow defenders, but he was generally well positioned to deal with it. He got beat only a couple of times by Ezequiel Lavezzi, usually enjoying good support from Donovan or Dempsey as the second defender on his side. It was his header at the far post that turned into U.S. goal off a free kick. Bocanegra also took a late yellow card for a fairly nasty foul, possibly as a little payback for several tough hacks at American players shortly before.

M, Clint Dempsey, 5 -- Like Landon Donovan on the other side, he found it tough to move forward and had precious few chances on the ball, especially over the first 45 minutes. Dempsey did get forward to take a couple of the only first -half U.S. shots. He might have been better to hit a ball from Donovan first-time in the 38th rather than taking the extra touch. By the time the United States got hold of the game, the Fulham man looked a bit out of gas, not so surprising considering his busy season at Craven Cottage.

M, Jermaine Jones, 4 -- A pretty forgettable night. There simply wasn't enough tackling and not enough connecting, although no one in a U.S. shirt did much connecting through that 45-minute possession clinic Argentina delivered before halftime. He and Michael Bradley have yet to play well in tandem, and Jones was removed at halftime.

M, Maurice Edu, 5 -- He looked lost and uncomfortable when asked to play an unfamiliar role (ahead of Bradley and Jones in a three-man central triangle). So it wasn't completely his fault, but the U.S. just didn't get much from him before the break. The Americans need someone there who could spring Donovan and Dempsey and then get forward to support a lone striker, and that's just not his game. He was much more effective when he dropped deeper, settling in alongside Bradley in a 4-4-2 reshaping at halftime. He had the best U.S. chance for a go-ahead goal but couldn't quite steer his shot inside the post in the 52nd minute

M, Michael Bradley, 6 -- He wasn't always razor sharp in passing, which is understandable considering his lack of playing time lately at Aston Villa. But he added something by simply competing and helping maintain defensive shape, generally doing so better against that early onslaught than his holding partner Jermaine Jones. He was the strongest U.S. tackler, by far. And his night, as with everyone else, looked so much better after the break as the shape alteration helped enormously.

M, Landon Donovan, 6 -- Started on the left but switched with Dempsey after 30 minutes. Donovan showed a little fiery leadership by doing a little hacking of his own after complaining about professional fouling from the visitors just before the half, and then again when he collected a yellow card for a late foul on Javier Mascherano. He was a bit quiet in the second half while he helped young Chandler deal with threats on their side. Donovan did come alive in the final 10 minutes. His set-piece deliveries were OK.

F, Jozy Altidore, 5 -- Stranded and unimpressive in the first 45 when he needed to hold ball better to let teammates catch up rather than turning and at the defense with no help. His second half was far more productive as Juan Agudelo's presence gave him someone to play with. Perfect example: Altidore's pinpoint cross into Aguldelo from the right in the 67th minute.

Substitutes:

F, Juan Agudelo, 7 -- Clearly, he wasn't intimidated by the moment. Not that he has been before. In three appearances so far, the 18-year-old striker has consistently found ways to make a big impact, which is everything you want from a striker. His goal was No. 2 in the U.S. shirt and a memorable one to be sure. There were moments where he still looks young, but his nose for the goal is a big plus -- as when he very nearly got on the end of that Altidore cross.

RB, Timothy Chandler, 7 -- The German-born right back certainly got into the action early, with a crisp little cross then a quick yellow card to interrupt the subsequent counter attack. Possibly the fastest yellow card for a debuting U.S. player? He was beaten one-on-one more often than the slightly-more-experienced Spector, whom he replaced. But all in all a great night, especially when you talk about three good crosses he supplied on offense. With Eric Lichaj and Chandler, the cupboard hardly looks bare at right back behind Steve Cherundolo.

 
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