Thursday, March 29, 2007

US 0-0 Guatemala - Review and player grades

Well that was a bit disappointing. All credit to Guatemala, they did what they setout to do and they did it well. They proved, yet again, that the US is bad in games were they have to work quickly in tight situations. One and two touch soccer is not our strong point and never has been. However, now that we are one of the big dogs of CONCACAF, we are going to need to change that or keep getting the same result as last night. That said, for the most part, everyone had a good performance, they just couldn't finish (as seen by the about 80 minutes when the ball was under US control). Anyway, here are the player grades:

Starting Lineup
Kasey Keller (GK) - Didn't have a lot to do on the night, but did a good job organizing the backline. I like his quick release style, but he still over kicks the ball way too often. Grade: B

Frank Simek (D) - A good first night on the job for Simek. He was instrumental in getting a lot of the plays started. B

Jay DeMerit (D) - Another good debut. His work rate was great. Wonderful at positioning himself to stop the play. B

Jimmy Conrad (D) - Better then Sunday, but he still let Carlos Ruiz get loose on a corner kick. When a team only really has one offensive option, you need to stick to him on corners. Still, he was very productive overall, especially with his long balls and shut Ruiz down for the rest of the night. B

Jonathan Spector (D) - He made a few key stops that made the rest of the defense's job easier and man does he know how to force a team offside. B-

Clint Dempsey (M) - The Deuce grew during the match and once Cooper came in and the field shuffled, he was in a much better position. He was busy forcing himself in the box and almost got on the end of more then a few balls. I really loved it when he exchanged words with the Guatemalan keeper late in the game for time wasting. He started playing mind games, just which he did it earlier. A-

Benny Feilhaber (M) - Feilhaber is making a name for himself. Not as amazing as Sunday, but with a flooded midfield, he did a fine job of keeping the ball moving. B-

Michael Bradley (M) - He can play in tight situations and he, much like Feilhaber, kept the ball moving. Still, he needs to work on his passes. B

Justin Mapp (M) - Wow, he took over parts of this game. He was the only player to make multiple long runs and cut his way through the defensive line. Now he just needs to work on his centering. If he had got a couple of those crosses off a little quicker, the game would not have ended 0-0. A

Landon Donovan (F/M) - Landon is not a forward. He was lost up there. Watching him try and use his head was just painful and why did he keep going into the center of the pitch? Once he shifted, he got much better, but he needs to improve his corner kicks. B-

Eddie Johnson (F) - Everyone wanted last night to be Eddie's night, but it just wasn't to be. He had a couple good chances and he even took the shots, but they were both to the keeper. He could have had a few more good chances, but his first touch was usually not a good one. C

Kenny Cooper 59' (F) - His addition took the wait off Donovan and opened up the field. He worked outside, great thing, but he still doesn't seem to use his size enough to force problems for the defense. A little more physical play could go a long way. B

Brian Mullan 67' (M) - His addition allowed Dempsey to attack further. That said, he didn't seem to move around the field enough to open up passing lanes. B-

Wade Barrett 74' (D/M) - In his few minutes, he didn't really get called on much. B-

Other Grade
ESPN2 - More coverage of the game with better explanations of who the players are and what lies ahead for the US team. Would have liked to hear them talk more about the Gold Cup (especially since tickets went on sale today), but I guess since they will not carry those games, they don’t care much about them. B

Bob Bradley - His hands were tied a bit due to the late scratches of Twellman and Beasley, but he should have found some way to move Donovan back quicker. The fact that the team came out after halftime with the same plan of attack as they had in the first half, makes me wonder. C+

Guatemalan team - The did a great job clogging up the field and accomplished more of their goals then the US did. However, they showed a real lack of class with all the 'injuries' late in the match. I know, Italy won a World Cup using this strategy, but it still makes for crappy soccer. B+

Refs - Was it just me or did other people think Jorge Larrionda was on the pitch last night? (For those who might not remember, Larrionda was the ref for our Italian World Cup match.) Our player is on he ground and gets the ball kicked into his chest repeatedly while being surrounded by Guatemalan players and the call is a hand ball against the US? Meanwhile, Guatemalans are diving all over the pitch and getting free kicks because of it? Then there was the obvious time wasting, yet Benito Archundia did nothing. And what about when Guatemalan coach Luis Suarez was interfering with a US throw in? No card, just a talking to by the fourth official? Makes no sense. F

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