U.S. player ratings vs. Canada
Goalkeeper Tim Howard made a couple of critical saves in an otherwise quiet night
It was important for striker Jozy Altidore to get a goal and gain confidence
Young center back Tim Ream looked comfortable bar one mistake
U.S. player ratings (scale of 1-10):
GK Tim Howard, 8 -- After a quiet first half, Howard reminded everyone why he is far and away the undisputed U.S. No. 1. His double save late kept things from being more exciting than they needed to be down the stretch. Even better was his wonderful stretch to push away Ali Gerba's rising, 70th-minute effort. Generally, he was alert and vigilant on collecting balls from a tricky, poor temporary field.
D, Steve Cherundolo, 6 -- The veteran U.S. right back was beaten twice in early duels along his side, but he mostly contained the danger from there. His relationship with Landon Donovan was clicking. Cherundolo always seems to make something good happen when he gets forward, and did so again against the Canadians.
D, Tim Ream, 7 -- Some very classy work in some moments of the young center back's most important start to date. He's always concerned with claiming possession rather than just clearing danger. Excepting the one time he was beaten badly by Simeon Jackson in a very dangerous spot, his one-on-one defending was solid; that was always going to be a key against a team using three forwards.
D, Clarence Goodson, 6 -- He generally made good on his big chance; Goodson has been fourth or fifth in the center back pecking order over the last couple of years, so this was a biggie. He was good in the air and usually OK in individual battles. His passing needed to be a just little better, especially against a team that was curiously passive, mostly sitting deep to defend. Goodson knows how to use his height and be a real bother on offensive set pieces, which is always an asset. Generally, he did nothing that should make Bradley consider a change.
D, Carlos Bocanegra, 6 -- He never offers much to the offense, but that's not really his job. He's there to help guide those younger center backs, to keep the rear guard tightly organized and lock down his left side defensively. So, he can hang the "mission accomplished" banner on a solid, professional tournament opener.
M, Clint Dempsey, 7 -- His insurance goal was big; a one-goal lead would have made for a real nail-biter down the stretch. Started in his usual U.S. spot -- working as a left-sided midfielder but leaning aggressively inside -- but scored the goal after the coach's usual second-half tactical adjustment, where Dempsey moves up front. He nearly scored a spectacular, athletic goal with a scorpion kick in the 60th minute. His goal was typical, scrappy Dempsey-type stuff.
M, Michael Bradley, 8 -- It's really hard to see how the guy couldn't get more time for Aston Villa. And it's hard to see how the nepotism arguments just won't die. Bradley had a tremendous match, covering acres of ground. He was busy and sharp, playing slightly ahead of fellow central midfielder Jermaine Jones. His short- and long-range passing was precise and he scooped up balls in good spots near Canada's penalty area. What makes his night even more impressive is that he hasn't been playing much in England, proving that "form" might just be overrated in some cases. His needless yellow card was the night's only blemish.
M, Jermaine Jones, 6 -- He wasn't nearly as active as Bradley, but didn't need to be. He screened the defense smartly and conservatively in the first half, then wisely accelerated into the game in the second half. He passing could be a little sharper at times, but he won balls that needed winning, tackled well and generally had a nice, balanced performance. His partnership with Michael Bradley is improving; at times in the past they gotten bunched up too often. Since Bradley is easily the more established American midfielder, it's more on Jones to make that pairing work.
M, Landon Donovan, 7 -- Donovan's defensive work is frequently overlooked, but these are the nights when he proves that he's no one-trick pony. He recognized early that Cherundolo might need a little more help against Josh Simpson and smartly paid more attention to tracking and helping on defense. He and Cherundolo always work well together; they made the U.S. right side the far more dangerous one. Both goals came down that side. His corner kicks, as usual, were falling into good spots.
F, Juan Agudelo, 4 -- He's a young forward who probably shouldn't be starting but had to because the cupboard remains fairly bare. He wasn't bad. He was just a little lost pup at times, unable to find ways to make the game the way Altidore did. He sometimes got jammed up in areas, too close to teammates. He did gain some confidence after a getting off a promising little shot in the 40th minute, then forcing a save from range just a few minutes later.
F, Jozy Altidore, 8 -- This is exactly what he needed, and what the U.S. needed, for a forward to get some confidence early -- and to get a goal. The defending wasn't good and the goalkeeping worse on his early strike, but credit the young forward for turning and putting a shot on frame with a little zip. Looking confident from there, he had dandy match. Everyone saw that he made the pass on Dempsey's goal. But lesser noticed perhaps was that he won the ball off Howard's goal kick initially. Bradley puts tremendous value on plays just like that, winning balls to keep possessions alive.
M, Chris Wondolowski, 5 -- Entered for Agudelo in the 65th. He was quite active, hopping around and trying to make his minutes matter, which is what you want to see from a guy who hasn't gotten many chances in the national shirt. He nearly got to Donovan's cross at the near post late in the match.
M, Sacha Kljestan, 5 -- Stationed wide right in the midfield as Bradley moved players around once Kljestan replaced Altidore in the 74th. He found some good spots and got on the ball a few times, but did nothing to really distinguish himself.
M, Maurice Edu, 6 -- Added some energy that helped the United States close things out once he came in for the tiring Jones in the 78th minute. Calmly cleared the danger near his own goal a couple of times.
Coach Bob Bradley -- The pressure was on here after Saturday's shellacking. In the end, since the team managed its tournament opener well in the 2-0 win, the choice to rest those starters against Spain can now be plea bargained down to a misdemeanor offense, if even that. Bradley smartly reverted to the 4-4-2, abandoning the 4-2-3-1 experiment for now. Clarence Goodson made his coach look good; Bradley's decision to bench Oguchi Onyewu for Goodson paid off nicely.
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