USA-Jamaica player ratings: Jones, Edu among biggest letdowns in loss
USA's 2-1 loss to Jamaica exposed several flaws, including personnel and tactics
Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu and Kyle Beckerman struggled mightily for the U.S.
Clint Dempsey's goal and his 90 minutes of service were one of the few highlights
After being on the right side of history less than a month ago in Mexico, the U.S. men's national team found itself on the wrong side after falling to Jamaica for the first time ever in 19 matches between the two nations. The 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat exposed a number of flaws in the U.S., both with available personnel and with Jurgen Klinsmann's tactics and choices, and, as a result, there is a seriously heightened sense of pressure heading into Tuesday's rematch in Columbus, Ohio. Here are U.S. player ratings from the match (as always, based on a scale from 0-10):
GK, Tim Howard, 5 -- Howard was not done any favors by his midfield, which put him under the pressure of facing several free kicks from dangerous spot, two of which got by him. He looked to have Rodolph Austin's first-half free kick lined up, but the deflection off Kyle Beckerman at the end of the wall appeared to throw him off just enough to make the difference. He had no shot at stopping Luton Shelton's second-half rocket, and aside from that, he was hardly tested in the run of play. He put a scare into U.S. fans when coming off his line and colliding with Shelton for a 50-50 ball outside the area, going down and appearing to suffer a leg injury, but he remained in the game and showed no ill-effects of the collision. Howard reaching that special level that he is capable of helped the U.S. steal the result in Mexico last month. He was unable to reach those heights Friday.
D, Michael Parkhurst, 5 -- A surprise starter after Steve Cherundolo was unable to go with a reported calf strain, Parkhurst was uncertain at times getting forward and was targeted from the start by Jamaica's attack. He held his own in the run of play and was not calamitous at right back, but it's clear that there's a talent and cohesiveness gap between when Parkhurst is on the field as opposed to when the calming force that is Cherundolo is manning the back line. His most notable contribution going forward was when he ran onto a touch from Jozy Altidore at the end of the first half and sent an accurate cross into the center of the area that led to a saved Clint Dempsey shot. Parkhurst did not kill his chances of playing for Klinsmann again, but the fact remains that Cherundolo offers more stability on both sides of the ball and a sense of leadership on the field.
D, Geoff Cameron, 5.5 -- Cameron was the most stable of the defenders and one of the more stable players wearing a U.S. jersey on the field in general. He wasn't tested individually all that frequently, but his clutch play to extend his leg and get to a headed-on ball at the edge of the 6-yard box in the first half prevented what would have been a sure Ryan Johnson goal. Assuming Carlos Bocanegra returns to the lineup against Jamaica in Columbus, Cameron is the most likely of the available center backs to pair with him. His move to Stoke City and successful start there appear to have made him a much more confident player.
D, Clarence Goodson, 4.5 -- Like Parkhurst, Goodson was a bit of a surprise starter, as Klinsmann elected to bench a healthy Carlos Bocanegra, who had been playing in the fourth tier of Scottish soccer before securing a transfer to Spain second-division side Racing Santander. While Goodson was not tested individually all that frequently, he was beaten for pace on a ball intended for Johnson that Cameron managed to get to first, and he did not look like the confident Goodson who appeared in the previous U.S. matches in May and June. He had an atrocious giveaway when trying to play out of the back and did not play to his highest potential.
D, Fabian Johnson, 5.5 -- Johnson has certainly had better nights for the U.S., and while he was fine defensively, he did not supply enough getting forward to make up for the lack of true winger in the U.S. lineup. When he did get forward, he was unable to create any tangible chances. Johnson faced a major test when Jamaican and Vancouver Whitecaps speedster Darren Mattocks entered to create havoc down his side of the field, and while he did not afford Mattocks any true chances, it was clear that his weary legs had to work harder just to thwart Mattocks' advances. With the midfield not producing anything down his side, Johnson needed to force the issue out of the back a bit more.
M, Jermaine Jones, 3.5 -- Jones had an utterly forgettable night. Stepping into a tough assignment as a right-sided midfielder when he is more accustomed to a central role, Jones was clumsy on the ball, committed a handful of rash challenges and topped it off with a yellow card that puts him at risk for suspension should he pick up another in the coming games. Jones worked hard and was all over the field, but as a right winger, he created little for the attack. His best ball forward was an early curling cross that was just out of the reach for Jozy Altidore. The Jones-Kyle Beckerman-Maurice Edu triumvirate has its kinks, and when two of them are stationed as (supposed) wingers, it completely impedes the attempt to build anything from the flanks while working up the field.
M, Kyle Beckerman, 4 -- Beckerman's bright start gave way to a bit of a nightmare evening. The good: His smooth pass to Maurice Edu down the center that sprung the sequence for the first-minute goal. The bad: His foul that granted Austin a free kick in the 23rd minute that he ended up inadvertently redirecting into his own goal to compound the play. After that point, Beckerman looked a step behind for much of the night, committing some desperate fouls and not maching his usual effectiveness with Real Salt Lake at the bottom of the midfield diamond against the pressuring, high-paced Jamaicans.
M, Maurice Edu, 4 -- As with Beckerman, Edu's contribution on the goal in the opening minute was the highlight of his evening. His direct pass forward to Herculez Gomez continued the play and helped set up Dempsey's tally, but his poorly timed tackle that set up Shelton's game-winning free kick is what had a more lasting impact on the game. Edu was guilty of fouls in dangerous spots on a couple of occasions, and he also lost possession in a rough spot on the field in the 16th minute that led directly to an Austin chance from distance. As someone who theoretically was supposed to supply play down the left, Edu was stationed centrally throughout. Klinsmann can't be relying on players like Edu and Jones for width, and if anything, a night like Friday makes the absent Landon Donovan's continued importance to this team all the more glaring.
M, Clint Dempsey, 5.5 -- That Dempsey went 90 minutes after not having played a competitive game in almost three months was one of the biggest surprises of the night (after the final score, that is). Dempsey's goal 35 seconds in made Klinsmann look brilliant for having the faith to start his out-of-form centerpiece, but as the match wore on it was clear that Dempsey was nowhere near his top form, and he tired visibly toward the end. The risk with playing Dempsey so much Friday is that there's no telling how he will respond and recover in time for Tuesday's suddenly crucial match in Columbus. Dempsey was unable to dip and facilitate out of his supporting role like he normally might, but even with all of the factors working against him he managed to be the top U.S. threat on the evening.
F, Jozy Altidore, 4.5 -- There were legitimately periods of time throughout the match when one wondered if Altidore was actually playing. But as opposed to what some of his notorious and unwavering detractors might say, this one really does not fall on his shoulders. There was zero service his way whatsoever, and as a central figure up top, Altidore, who is off to a stellar start in his second season in the Netherlands, needed better production from the wingers. Altidore did have one of the better touches of the game, springing Parkhurst down the right with a slick one-touch pass to help create the smoothest chance in the run of play all night toward the end of the first half.
F, Herculez Gomez, 5 -- Gomez' tenacity on the opening sequence was rewarded after his second blocked shot fell right to Dempsey for the opening goal, but aside from that and exhibiting his usual high work rate, Gomez was unable to produce much in the attack. He saw more of the ball than Altidore, as he drifted out wide right, but his crossing, much of which came under little pressure, was off target. Like with Altidore, it is hard to fault Gomez for the night's result, as the problems emanated from those operating behind him on the field.
M, Danny Williams, 4.5 -- As opposed to the right-sided role that Klinsmann has had him play in past matches, Williams stepped into his more comfortable central midfield role, but he had just as many issues with building through the middle as his teammates did. Williams did not make much of a difference when coming on, was a bit sloppy with his touches and the U.S. had the same trouble keeping possession and maintaining a foothold while on the ball after Williams entered as it did before he came on.
M, Brek Shea, 5 -- Shea injected a bit of life and width into the U.S. attack when he came on in the 70th minute, and he set up Dempsey for a late chance with a cross from the left. He did not have the same impact off the bench as he did against Mexico, though, and was probably inserted into the game about 25 minutes too late considering how dire the U.S. build-up out wide had been throughout the game. A start Tuesday would not be all that surprising.
F, Terrence Boyd, 4 -- Entered at the same time as Shea to replace Altidore, but he suffered the same fate as his predecessor: Death by no service. Boyd, whose creativity and expressive nature have become hallmarks of his game in his brief career, did not have a single chance to make an impression on the match and was left stranded as the U.S. struggled to create even a decent chance to try and find an equalizer.
NBA playoff preview: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets
NBA playoff preview: Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat