Dempsey earns best U.S. rating in disappointing draw with Guatemala
It's hard to fault Tim Howard, whose leadership shone through in hostile conditions
Landon Donovan was rather silent in the run of play and not effective on set pieces
It was a typical Clint Dempsey performance -- hard work, some bruises and a goal
|Final :: Guatemala City, Guatemala|
The U.S. men's national team had a chance at a three-point road haul in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying go by the wayside, yielding a late goal to Guatemala and settling for a 1-1 draw at Estadio Mateo Flores. Here are U.S. player ratings from the match (as always, based on a scale of 0-10):
GK, Tim Howard, 7 -- Howard single-handedly kept the United States in the game with a few highlight-reel saves, including a point-blank stop of Luis Rodriguez off a corner kick with the Americans still nursing a one-goal lead in the 70th minute. He was caught frozen on Marco Pappa's game-tying free kick, and his distribution out of the back left plenty to be desired when U.S. players would opt to play the ball back to him in the run of play, but it is hard to fault Howard, whose leadership and experience shone through in hostile conditions.
D, Steve Cherundolo, 5 -- With the opening half played at such an unorganized, breakneck pace, the first-choice right back offered little going forward, something that is becoming more of a regular occurrence and robbing the United States of some much-needed width. He scuffed his one chance in the attacking end on a shot in the box after a pleasant passing sequence early in the second half. Defensively, Cherundolo was steady, as he did not let the energetic Marvin Avila or Marco Pappa really get by him and made sure that few crosses came in from his side.
D, Clarence Goodson, 6 -- Goodson's night was odd. He was subbed off at halftime after picking up an early yellow card, and that caused Jurgen Klinsmann to operate with a bit of caution and bring on Geoff Cameron for the second half. While on the field, Goodson was composed in a raucous environment, asserted himself when he had to and held his own when called upon in a physical slugfest. He was caught out of position once with a 40-yard bending ball landing over him and nearly putting Carlos Ruiz in on goal, but Howard was there as the safety blanket.
D, Carlos Bocanegra, 6 -- The U.S. captain returned to the scene of his 2008 match-winning goal, and he shook off some uncharacteristically shaky early minutes to turn in a stable showing. Bocanegra was nearly caught out of position but recovered to track back and prevent Ruiz from getting off a shot -- although he appeared to kick the ball off his own outstretched hand in the process. Bocanegra was at his best in the final minutes with the pressure at its highest, as he came up big with a few vital clearances with Guatemala pressing for a winner.
D, Fabian Johnson, 6.5 -- Johnson returned from a calf strain and was immediately tested by Guatemala's Carlos Figueroa on a couple of occasions, only to remain with the fleet-footed winger step for step and win possession back. Johnson's biggest contribution came on the run up to Clint Dempsey's goal, when he displayed the attacking qualities that has Klinsmann downright giddy about the possibilities for him at the position. His assist put Dempsey in position to score, but he also contributed to Guatemala's equalizer, as his foul led directly to Pappa's free kick that tied the game. Even though Ruiz lived up to his notorious reputation and made the most of the play to earn a yellow card, it was still a foul-worthy call.
M, Maurice Edu, 4 -- Another night, another struggle for Edu in possession in the three-man midfield. Guatemala's pressure forced Edu's distribution to be off on a number of occasions, which did not help the U.S. midfield build any semblance of rhythm or continuous possession. He was bodied off by Ruiz on a chance at the end of the first half that nearly netted the hosts a goal, and he was one of four U.S. players to pick up a yellow card that will carry over into future qualifiers. In the attacking end, Edu and Altidore had a lack of understanding on one chance at the top of the box, and Edu skied his other chance to get on the scoresheet by firing well over the bar on a shot from the top of the area in the 85th minute.
M, Jermaine Jones, 5.5 -- His night was far from pretty, and his ball-handling down the right was far from perfect, but the physical Jones drew two yellow cards on Guatemala players and a handful of other fouls in the Guatemala half of the field to mark his hardworking night. For Jones to emerge from the opening two matches of qualifying without a yellow card is a testament to his newfound restraint and ability to exert his physicality at the right time. Not a great night but effective nonetheless.
M, Michael Bradley, 5.5 -- If not for Jozy Altidore's failure to continue a late run through the area, the prevailing reaction from the match would be what a great run and pass Bradley had to set up the match-winning goal. Altidore's run never came, though, and as a result, Bradley's night was rather ordinary by his standards. His distribution was not as accurate as he has displayed in previous matches, and the wildness and up-tempo nature of the game forced him into a more defensive-minded role. He did try and replicate his cracker of a goal against Scotland by volleying from distance in the first half, but his shot ended up being right at goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez. The highly questionable yellow card that Bradley received for allegedly time wasting on a free kick at the 60-minute mark could come back to haunt him in later matches.
F, Landon Donovan, 4.5 -- Donovan, a veteran of World Cup qualifiers in Central America, was rather silent in the run of play, and when he did get involved, he looked to force in crosses instead of looking to get off his own shots when he appeared to be in position to do so. When not effective otherwise, Donovan can usually leave his mark on set pieces, but his service Tuesday night was not precise enough, and the U.S. men could barely capitalize on their bevy of free-kick chances in the Guatemala half in the opening 45 minutes.
F, Clint Dempsey, 7 -- After not being a part of the match for the opening 20 or so minutes, Dempsey forced his way into the game by dipping deep to see the ball, and his activity paid off. Dempsey was rewarded with a well-taken goal, as he showed the spatial awareness to make himself available for Johnson's pass at the top of the box and the ability and poise to shake two defenders, create space and pick out an opening in the goal to get the U.S. men on the board. Dempsey took a beating all night, with repeated kicks to the shins and shoves to the torso, but in the end, it was what has become a typical Dempsey game -- hard work, some bruises and a goal to show for it.
F, Herculez Gomez, 5.5 -- Gomez displayed his usual work rate, but his effectiveness in the final third was extremely limited, and he was taken off around the hour mark as a result. He did show one instance of being able to play with his back to the goal, holding up the ball well to set up one of the nicer passing sequences the United States had all game, one that ended with Cherundolo's missed shot.
D, Geoff Cameron, 6 -- As a halftime substitute for Goodson, Cameron was thrown into the caldron and responded well, showing discipline in the back and not getting caught out of position in his first action since a horrific showing against Scotland. While the starting spot is still Goodson's to lose, Cameron has clearly surpassed Oguchi Onyewu on the center back depth chart.
F, Jozy Altidore, 4.5 -- The good: Altidore had a would-be second goal for the United States negated by referee Joel Aguilar's failure to play the advantage after a foul to Dempsey at the top of the area. The bad: Altidore's inexplicable failure to continue his run in the box when Bradley attempted to set him up for a would-be game-winner. Klinsmann has been particularly critical of Altidore -- specifically his fitness -- since he arrived late to the U.S. camp, and Altidore hardly did himself any favors to win over the U.S. coach with his 86th-minute blunder.
M, Kyle Beckerman, N/A -- Came on as a time-killing substitute for Donovan in second-half stoppage time and spent roughly 30 seconds on the field.