Sunday, May 27, 2012

USA 5 - Scotland 1: Player Ratings

photo by Vince Alongivia PhotoRee

The US players may have impressed you last night, but the key question they are likely asking themselves this morning, is Did They Impress Coach Mark? We find out below:

Landon Donovan – 10 - Donovan created a bit of a firestorm with a recent interview that suggested the greatest player in American history had lost his competitive fire. He promptly proved his poor mouthing was just that, with one of the most electric games of his international career. Showing remarkable pace in the counter attack for a now 30 year old, Donovan did a little bit of everything tonight, including scoring three precision goals and dishing out an assist. There is a reason he’s America’s all-time scoring leader and he showed why with his remarkable accuracy in front of net. Donovan has hit the corners better than any player in American history. He’s never wowed with his dribbling prowess, and he’s ordinary in a half field game, but if you are looking for a fast counter attack and a precision cross or shot at full throttle going on goal, Donovan’s absolutely world class.

Terrence Boyd – 7 – A lot to like here. Boyd didn’t score in a game that saw five goals, but it’s hard not to be excited about America’s latest German import. Thank God for the cold war, or the US would have missed out on half of its top prospects. For all those who wished that Jozy Altidore was an inch taller, ten pounds heavier and a step faster, enter Terrence Boyd. Where Altidore gets pushed off the ball, Boyd looks the part of a true center forward. He’s got size, strength and a nice burst of pace.  He’s raw, and has work to do, but this is a really talented kid with a nose for goal. Altidore is coming off a superb season in the Dutch Eredivisie, but he’s going to have his hands full keeping Terrence Boyd out of the top spot in the US lineup over the course of the next two years. The advantage Boyd has over Altidore is that he’s a true target forward. The US needs one and hasn’t had one since Brian McBride retired. Altidore is gifted and has the mentality of a target forward, but he’s only going to struggle with his physical dimensions. Boyd looks the part.

Steve Cherundolo – 8 – When is this guy going to get old? He was sharp as a tack against Scotland and showed no sign of giving up his spot in the next Cup. He’s a natural for Jurgen Klinnsman’s system with his overlapping runs and effective crosses. Scotland didn’t come close to testing him and it allowed him to freely come into the attack. Plus, being a Bundesliga captain gives him some serious street cred in Klinsmann’s world.

Geoff Cameron – 7 – He scored an own goal on a play where he lost his mark, but otherwise this is a higher school, because he was rock solid for the rest of the game. More significantly, he seems to have replaced Ogucchi Onyewu in the starting lineup after Onyewu had a solid year at Sporting Lisbon. Cameron is a rare combination of size, speed and distribution ability from the back spot. The US has never had the luxury of a center back who could distribute and come into the attack and Cameron, a frequent midfielder for his MLS squad, brings a new dimension.

Carlos Bocanegra – 8 – Another ageless wonder. Bocanegra was both active and plenty chippy, creating a nice edge to a so-called friendly. Can he and Cherundolo hold form for another two years? That's a big question mark, particularly with Timothy Chandler, finding a newfound love for the Deutsuchland.

Fabian Johnson – 7 - Put this next to Terrence Boyd as a lot to like here. The US has had a hole at left back for two decades, and it may finally be filled; the horrific ghosts of the Jeff Agoos and Jonathon Bornstein years may finally be put to rest. Johnson was solid in defense, and just plain dangerous coming into the attack. I am not sure the US has ever had a left back who could bring more pace and skill into the attack. Another converted midfielder bringing an unprecedented level of skill to the US back line.

Michael Bradley – 10 – A classic Michael Bradley game. In addition to his usual habit of running the soles off his cleats, he had a beautiful half volley from distance and some terrific passes. He avoided the sloppy fouls of his past national team performance. It’s hard to believe he’s only 24; he’s one of the guys who feels like he’s been with the team a decade. With Bradley and Jermaine Jones in midfield,  the US will never have to worry about effort, and Bradley should be hitting the prime of his career just as the next World Cup begins.

Jermaine Jones – 10 – Jones has been a consistently disruptive force in the US midfield since joining the American team, but tonight he showed another part of his game, with great pace in the counter attack. He channeled his Landon Donovan on the counter attack and created all kind of problems for the Scots. The game's fifth goal was a clinical header into the corner of the net off a Donovan cross. You’d like to bottle some of tonight’s precision for more meaningful games.

Maurice Edu – 6 - The back point on the triangle in the three man defensive midfield did his usual part to disrupt the attack. He gives the US nice athleticism at the position and a willingness to get up and down the field. He had some errant passes and was a step below Bradley and Jones, which keeps his spot up for grabs in a crowded US midfield. His game is so similar to Bradley and Jones that you have to wonder whether a player like Jose Torres who brings something different to the side will make a play for a midfield spot.

Jose Torres – 8 - Easily Torres’ best game in the horizontal stripes. US soccer fans finally saw the deft skills that have been much talked about but seldom seen for Torres. Torres is still very young and it was hard not to notice his precision passing and playmaking ability . He showed flashes tonight of a creative style, which the US has not seen in the midfield since Claudio Reyna retired. He pinched the middle creating a crowded four center midfield combination that sometimes looked too tight, but his ability to handle the ball under pressure in tight spaces made it work. He also almost scored a savvy quick free kick demonstrating both game awareness and an accurate left boot. Will be a hard player to send to the bench when Clint Dempsey returns.

Tim Howard – 8 – Was he even on the field tonight? Aside from a fluke on goal he went completely untested.

This is farlieonfootie for May 27

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