Bradley, Gomez, Johnson hold their own vs. Brazil
The U.S. men's national team suffered a 4-1 setback to Brazil on Wednesday night, but players like Michael Bradley, Herculez Gomez and Fabian Johnson emerged as individual standouts from a game in which the United States created an abundance of chances against the world power but ultimately succumbed on account of some shaky defending. Here are player ratings from the match (as always, on a scale of 0-10):
GK, Tim Howard, 5.5 -- Howard was left out to dry by his defense on a few occasions, and there really wasn't much he could have done to prevent any of the four goals. Between the penalty kick, a missed marker on a corner kick, a missed assignment on a the third goal and a failure to step forward by Oguchi Onyewu that kept Alexandre Pato onside for the fourth goal, Howard was not given much help. His early save to rob Leandro Damiao on a 1-on-1 opportunity kept the United States in the game early, and his swat of a Marcelo cross prevented another clear chance.
D, Steve Cherundolo, 5 -- Cherundolo was targeted by heavily by the overlapping Neymar-Marcelo tandem and did what he could to slow down the two but ultimately couldn't hold up against the supremely skilled and faster pair. He saved the United States on a 38th-minute Brazil counterattack, hustling back to cut out a dangerous cross from Leandro Damiao to Neymar that could have given Brazil another tally and a 3-0 edge. It was not the best of nights for Cherundolo, who kept his emotions in check despite being pestered by Marcelo off the ball, but it was about as tough as an assignment as he'll see.
D, Oguchi Onyewu, 3.5 -- In his return to the starting lineup, Onyewu struggled mightily. His handball in the box in the opening minutes set the tone for his performance, and even though Jurgen Klinsmann and Onyewu both contended that it was a call that should not have been made, it put the U.S. men in an early hole nonetheless. Onyewu struggled handling Brazil's high pressure, was shaky in his distribution out of the back and was at fault for keeping Pato onside for Brazil's final goal. Onyewu improved and looked more comfortable over stretches during the second half and also had a header hit the bar that would have cut the deficit to one late in the match, but on the whole it marked the second straight subpar showing for Carlos Bocanegra's center back partner. Clarence Goodson could have his name called sooner rather than later.
D, Carlos Bocanegra, 5 -- It appeared that Brazil's high pressure flustered the captain, too, who wasn't his usual, composed self over the duration of the match. Bocanegra also lost the ball in attacking end on a play that sprung the Brazil counter that Cherundolo covered, but he was given the ball in a tough spot to begin with. Bocanegra nearly scored off a patented header off a Donovan free kick midway through the first half, but his attempt went high.
D, Fabian Johnson, 7 -- Johnson dazzled going forward for a second straight game, accounting for the assist on Herculez Gomez' goal. There was never a time when Johnson looked in over his head, as he proved most capable of handling pressure in the back, though his defending was not without faults. Even so, when he was beaten, he showed the recovery speed and ability to ensure that his mistakes did not lead to anything greater. He displayed a non-stop motor and an ability to kick it into high gear up the sideline deep into the match, and his move that faked out Danilo created space for another dangerous cross that led to a promising chance.
M, Michael Bradley, 7.5 -- Playing in a deeper, No. 6 position as opposed to his role against Scotland, Bradley was absolutely tremendous again. He was pinpoint accurate with balls over the top, finding Gomez with regularity and making it look easy. He slid Johnson forward with precision for the play that led to Gomez' goal and had a clear header on frame robbed by Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael that would have cut the lead to 3-2. Bradley did lose track of his marker on Brazil's third goal, so it was not a completely flawless showing, but on the whole, it was another stellar night for the most consistent U.S. player.
M, Maurice Edu, 5 -- Edu had trouble at times in the middle and likely would have been better served in the role that Bradley played -- the one he played do a decent degree against Scotland. With Klinsmann looking for more from Edu in the attack, the Rangers midfielder pulled his only good chance wide. He did come up with the tackle on Hulk that dispossessed the Porto striker and led to the U.S. goal.
M, Jermaine Jones, 4.5 -- Jones disappointed in his follow-up to his Scotland performance, with his most notable moment coming when he lost Thiago Silva on the corner kick that led to Brazil's second goal. In terms of his offensive contributions, his flick-on off a throw-in led to a clear look for Landon Donovan in the first half. He also showed his fearlessness to enter challenges by taking out Neymar from behind on the sideline, right in front of Brazil's bench, no less.
F, Landon Donovan, 4.5 -- To expect Donovan to repeat his hat trick performance against Brazil would have been an unreasonable ask, but most expected better than what Donovan was able to produce Wednesday night. Marcelo bottled him up on every one of his forays down the right, and he had a couple of good looks at goal on which he misfired. To his credit, Donovan bounced back with strong service in the United States' furious quest to chip away at the 3-1 deficit, and his service off set pieces down the stretch put the ball in dangerous positions. In the run of play though, Donovan was a small fraction of the player he was Saturday night.
F, Herculez Gomez, 7 -- Gomez made Jozy Altidore's quest to regain his place in the starting lineup considerably tougher with his showing. While it is still likely Altidore's place to lose when he returns, Gomez was a handful for bigger, bruising center backs Juan and Thiago Silva, drawing a number of fouls in dangerous positions. His runs into space enabled Bradley to find him in pockets down every part of the field, and he was rewarded for his tireless work rate with a goal off Johnson's cross. He very nearly drew a penalty and he also almost had a second goal but was robbed by Rafael after taking down a pass with his chest to an odd angle and still managing to fire accurately. Gomez did everything asked of him and more as an undersized target man, and he repaid Klinsmann's faith to insert him into the starting XI.
F, Jose Torres, 4.5 -- Torres didn't really leave an imprint on this match for better or for worse. He picked up an early yellow card for dissent that limited his ability to play with a lot of bite, and even though he showed the willingness to track back when necessary, he was subbed out in the 56th minute for Clint Dempsey after lacking an overall effectiveness.
M, Clint Dempsey, 5.5 -- Dempsey made his return from a groin injury and finally played along with Donovan under Klinsmann for the first time. Dempsey entered for Torres on the left but drifted centrally throughout his time on the field. He had one golden chance to score, but Thiago Silva was able to cut out his chance at the goalmouth at the last moment after Gomez' cross-goal header. As for how he meshed with Donovan, the No. 10 looked for Dempsey immediately after he came on, lobbing a ball into the box and playing Dempsey into contact that went uncalled. Donovan also looked for Dempsey on a cross into the center of the box that was won by Brazil's defense. Look for extended minutes from Dempsey against Canada on Sunday.
F, Terrence Boyd, 5 -- His inclusion had the U.S. shift to a 4-4-2, one that generated a number of chances in the final 17 minutes. Boyd himself had a golden chance to follow up Gomez' saved shot, but he had his shot stuffed by a sprawling Rafael. Still, another active, eager performance from the youngster.
D, Michael Parkhurst, 4.5 -- Parkhurst came in as a 73rd-minute for Cherundolo and didn't fare too well against the likes of Neymar or Marcelo, who coasted by him with ease. Incredibly tough circumstances in which to enter the match.
M, Kyle Beckerman, N/A -- Entered as an 80th-minute substitute and didn't have much to do in replacing Jones.
D, Edgar Castillo, N/A -- Entered along with Beckerman for Johnson, who Klinsmann said had a minor calf issue and he wanted to replace before it became anything to worry about. Pato got in behind him for Brazil's final goal, but he was in position to play Pato offside, and it was not his fault that the rest of the defense did not follow suit.
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