Friday, June 08, 2007

Gold Cup Day 2 - US wins but comes out flat, player grades

USA 1-0 Guatemala

The US got the needed three points from their first match but they looked less then inspiring while doing it. The first half saw the team come together and pressure hard at times, but they missed a number of easy chances. It really should have been 2 or 3 nil going into the locker room but the Nats just could not respond.

Guatemala's plan for the second 45-minutes was obvious about 2 minutes in, play rough and try to force some US mistakes. It worked shockingly well. The US did not know how to play this style of physical soccer. Part of the problem was ref José Pineda who let Guatemala get away with fouls that the US was getting carded for, however a good team needs to learn how to stay calm during such matches.

The perfect example of the frustration of the team was Oguchi Onyewu. His first yellow was a weak call but the second was just stupid play. Guatemala was hoping someone would take their bait and sure enough the Gooch bit down hard. If there was a good bit of news on the night it is that the US calmed down once they went down to 10. Guatemala still pressured at times, but the US was able to kill off the game.

It was an ugly victory, but a victory nonetheless.
Goal: Clint Dempsey (1) 26'

Here are the players’ grades:

Tim Howard (GK) - He didn't have a lot to do, but when he was needed, he was there. A
Frankie Hejduk (D) - Covered for other defenders and was the calmest person in the backline. B-
Oguchi Onyewu (D) - Missed his marks, was not working in unison with the line and let his frustration get the best of him, thus putting his side in a difficult situation. A horrible night all around that makes the US's defensive situation only that much worse. F
Carlos Bocanegra (D) - Was out of position a number of times and could not figure out how to control the counters. C
Jonathan Bornstein (D) - He was getting beat all over the place but did make a few timely clearances. C+
Michael Bradley (M) - Got himself involved in a lot of plays and won more then his share of the 50-50 balls. Still needs to work a bit on the passing - B+
Benny Feihaber (M) - Benny was the center of the team last night. He was all over the pitch setting up or stopping plays. His work rate and technical skill was the best on the field. A
Landon Donovan (M) - His crosses are getting better but still need some work. Good job breaking up plays, but did not create many. Also, he showed very little leadership to calm the game down. B-
DaMarcus Beasley (M) - This was his best game for the national team in awhile. He was doing great getting wide and sending in good balls. However, he, like many on the team, needs to learn to take the shot. A-
Taylor Twellman (F) - How did Twellman not get a goal? He was working himself into position, but he could not finish. Everything else was really good, but forwards need to score. B-
Clint Dempsey (F) - Dempsey as a forward, interesting. He made the most of the situation, but it is not his position. His goal and he made some things happen, but over time, his play slowed. B

Eddie Johnson (F) - Where is the EJ we have seen in the MLS this season? He was scared out there and not using his talent to push the defense back. C-
Steve Ralston (M/D) - Won some balls but made very little impact on the game. C+
Jay DeMerit (D) - He calmed his side down after the Gooch ejection by breaking up attacks and holding the ball. B+

El Salvador 2-1 Trinidad & Tobago
The other match of the night saw a T&T side lacking in talent almost get a share of the points from El Salvador. T&T looked much better then I thought they would while El Salvador looked a little worse. This was not a very exciting match as most of it was played in the middle third of the pitch but we did learn that T&T has some speed on them, even if it comes with little technical skill while El Salvador will shoot just about ever chance they can.
El Salvador: Ramon Sanchez (1) 38', Dennis Alas (1) 81'
T&T: Silvio Spann (1) 8'

Here are the Gold Cup tables:
Group A
Guadeloupe 11001110
Costa Rica0101012-1

Group B
El Salvador3110021+1

Group C

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Blogger Charles said...

Nice review. You were far more impressed with the midfield tandem than I. I thought Bradley and Feilhaber were decent, but definitely not B+/A. It seemed like they disappeared for some pretty big chunks and while they obviously wanted to run the offense on the flanks, it seemed like once Guatemala opened up a bit they could have done more to control the middle than they did. I would say B-/B+ maybe.

The only other one I disagree with is Dempsey. I thought he was fantastic and while I was skeptical of him at forward I actually thought it was very nice. The strength of it was precisely that he was all over the place, coming back on defense, taking the flank, running at the box. He was just wherever he needed to be on a ton of plays.

I like the fact that the formation can be a 4-4-2, a 4-5-1, or a 4-3-3 at any moment depending on how Dempsey and Donovan move.

Beasley was great. Very nice to see.

11:19 AM  
Blogger C said...

Nice write-up, and appreciated because I wasn't able to watch the US match.

Just wanted to point out, though - you have the L and D values switched from the Haiti v. Guadeloupe match. :-)

12:27 PM  
Blogger Mike H said...

Charles - I did like what I saw about of Bradley and Feilhaber. Maybe I curved them up a bit, but they were such a major part of the game, I thought they deserved it.
Dempsey had a good night, but I felt he faded in the second half. However, you are right, his positioning was great so maybe I was a little harsh.

C - Sorry you missed the match and thanks for pointing out my mistake on the tables.

12:48 PM  

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