U.S. player ratings against France
Forward Jozy Altidore turned in a game that was shy on style but big on effort
Clint Dempsey had trouble with Alou Diarra but helped France get two yellow cards
Maurice Ed was ineffective, enabling France to dominate the U.S. central midfield
U.S. player ratings Friday against France (scale of 1-10, 10 as best)
GK Tim Howard, 7 -- His 56th minute save off Karim Benzema's stinging free kick was a gem. Howard also looked brave and agile on a 69th-minute sequence that required a pair of interventions. Of course, all that is just known as a "another day at the office" for the United States No. 1, who once again did his part.
D Steve Cherundolo, 6 -- No surprise that the longtime U.S. right back showed his experience in dealing with Franck Ribéry, France's world-class left-sided attacker, who managed to be only occasionally dangerous along his flank. As the night that demanded plenty of defensive attention, Cherundolo had few opportunities to get forward, although he did earn the first U.S. corner kick and took most of the advanced free kicks for his side.
D Clarence Goodson, 6 -- It's too bad that Goodson couldn't do more on Loic Remy's 72nd-minute breakthrough for France, because it was a credible and composed night otherwise, especially considering all the pressure U.S. center backs dealt with. Goodson's appearance was a bit of a surprise; he replaced the slightly injured Oguchi Onyewu in the only change from Jurgen Klinsmann's previous starting 11. Goodson never looked rattled, while his underrated communication and ability to organize surely helped limit the shots directed Howard's way. Goodson's chief flaw is his thin body composition; that high center of gravity and bit of missing lower leg strength sometimes leaves him vulnerable, as it did on the goal. He also may have gotten away with a foul early as speedy Jeremy Menez broke in toward Howard.
D Carlos Bocanegra, 6 -- Time and again over the first 60 minutes Friday, the U.S. captain, in his 99th international appearance, was big and accurate in the challenge when he absolutely had to be. It looked like a night that would prove, once again, how much the program needs his big-match presence and his veteran savvy. But things changed a bit around the 60th or 65th minute as perhaps Bocanegra's stamina became an issue. He misjudged one second-half ball that nearly spelled disaster but for Howard, and then was beaten in the air on the goal sequence.
D Tim Chandler, 5 -- On the positive side, the young German-American stepped up confidently into challenges in advanced areas and poured himself forward early. Conclusion: he won't be intimidated by a big moment. Facing a quality European opponent on the road qualifies as one, even if it's just a friendly. On the negative side, Chandler got caught napping once or twice, his positioning letting him down. That's probably no surprise considering his age and international inexperience. Still, these things must be considered when Klinsmann sets his lineups for more meaningful matches ahead.
M Danny Williams, 4 -- The young Bundesliga man was strong on the ball and contributed lots of credible work in tracking back to assist Cherundolo with the tricky Ribéry. With the ball, however, he just doesn't look comfortable with the passing angles from wide positions, appearing perennially unsure of how best to move things forward. When Williams does see the lanes crack open, the accuracy and weight of those passes definitely must improve. He's dangling some potential out there, but there's a long road ahead before Williams could ever press Landon Donovan as Klinamann's first-choice right-sided midfielder.
M Kyle Beckerman, 4 -- He was better than central partner Maurice Edu, but this match was lost in the midfield, so everyone's grade suffers. Beckerman was not the best when in possession in tight spots and he struggled to match Jeremy Menez's explosive speed. Still, the Real Salt Lake captain was usually well positioned, at least.
M Maurice Edu, 3 -- The U.S. central midfield looked just this side of being completely overrun at times Friday, and Edu was probably the chief reason. Playing further back in the formation than in previous starts under Klinsmann, Edu was less sure of his positioning than Beckerman and less useful on the ball. It wasn't that he did anything terribly; it's just that he did very little. Period.
M Brek Shea, 4 -- There was lots of defending to do, probably more than in any of Shea's six U.S. starts to date. So while his tackling, tracking and overall body of defensive work was adequate, this was easily his tamest night under Klinsmann on the attacking end. FC Dallas' young winger wasn't making the extra little runs or chipping away at the game in any meaningful manner. He never worked out the connections with Chandler that we've seen before. Those little entry portals into the game will always be tougher to locate against a well-organized unit like France's, so that's where Shea's development clearly lies.
F Clint Dempsey, 6 -- Even if you aren't a fan of his herky-jerky style, who can question this guy's competitive desire in the U.S. shirt? The United States attack was almost completely devoid of ideas (again). So you always got the feeling that any chance for a U.S. breakthrough would surely involve Dempsey's pure hunger, his determined-but-disheveled dribbling, his ability to be a doggone headache out there. He had a devil of a time early Friday getting past rangy French midfield wall Alou Diarra, but all that persistence would eventually be responsible for two yellow cards issued to the home team.
F Jozy Altidore, 7 -- It's funny, but some of Altidore's best U.S. nights come when he's most hopelessly isolated -- which he was Friday until Klinsmann's late formation adjustment. Like Dempsey, it was a night shy on style but big on voracious effort. Altidore repeatedly scored points at Stade de France in the "making something from nothing" department. The referee didn't see his way on a first-half penalty appeal that might have been awarded on another night. And that wasn't the only time he troubled Arsenal center back Laurent Koscielny. Late on, a bit of Altidore creativity sent Dempsey off and running on a thrust that created a dangerous U.S. free kick.
M Jermaine Jones, 6 -- Came on in the 66th for Beckerman and threw himself around a little, adding fresh legs and a little more hurly-burly to the night. His passing tends to be quicker and more direct than Edu's, which is probably what the U.S. attack needed at that point, especially after going behind 1-0. All things considered, not a bad night in his return to the side.
M DaMarcus Beasley, 4 -- His 71st-minute introduction for Shea (as a left midfielder) did little to change things, as the French right side had things locked down pretty well over there.
F Fabian Johnson, 6 -- The debuting U.S. midfielder also came in at the 71st, replacing Williams in a double switch for both outside midfielders. The Hoffenheim man looked assertive in his limited time, appearing more eager than Williams in taking on defenders (but still finding the crossing opportunities difficult to turn up, just like everyone else in the U.S. shirt).
F Edson Buddle, 4 -- He was central in a U.S. tactical adjustment as Klinsmann subtracted a midfielder and finally got Altidore some much-needed help up front. Buddle replaced Edu in the 77th minute but wasn't able to manufacture much in his time. In Buddle's only moment of promise, he went through along the right but needed a better centering effort to find Altidore. Those are the chances someone like Buddle, hovering on the fringes of the pool, simply must seize in order to move up the food chain.
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