Thursday, June 21, 2007

US 2-1 Canada, the US sneaks into the final and Player Grades

US 2-1 Canada
The Nats continued their trend of dominating matches but not finishing chances. They actually came out strong at the start of both halves but did very little with it. Their midfield was beating Canada to the punch (great job tying up DeGuzman and preventing him from started the offense) and their defense was holding the line but up top, it was not a pretty night. Perfect summation of this was Donovan's whiff of the open shot in the box.

The other position that looked a bit weak was Keller in goal. I don't know if it was the couple earlier knocks he took but there was mass communication failure and odd choices being made by Kasey.

So what about that last play of the game? Two things. First, it hit off Onyewu so it should not have been offside. Second, it was past the four-minute mark so it should never have happened in the first place. Both of these were bad calls by the ref. Sadly, these were not the only two bad (or missed) calls during the game.

The US played the better soccer for about 75-minutes of the match but Canada was more threatening during their brief time in control.

Goals: US - Hejduk (1) 39', Donovan (3) pk 45'
Canada - Hume (1) 76'

Here are the player grades:
Starting XI
Keller (GK) - Like I said above, he was not communicating and made some odd decision on when to come off his line. The worst I've ever seen him in a national jersey. C
Hejduk (D) - Was running all over the place and controlling DeRosario better then most. Made some good passes but got an undeserved yellow card so will sit out the final. B+
Onyewu (D) - The Gooch was everywhere in the back. He finally had a game where he covered and controlled without over doing it and picking up a dumb card. Was the man that stopped so much. A
Bocanegra (D) - He made Canadian players disappear. Had some smart runs forward as well. A-
Bornstein (D) - The back that had the least to do on the night. He kind of stayed on his marks and disrupted a few passes, but was not really a key. There was a lot that could have been exploited but thankfully was not. B-
Donovan (M) - Landon created some chances but everyone time he had the chance, he flushed it away. Also, either his passing was very off or lots of folks were not making their runs. Still, he was not afraid to get in the box. B
Bradley (M) - He was having an amazing night (like man of the match night) until the stupid red card. As great as the 88 minutes were prior to that foul, his grade takes a big hit for putting his side in such a bad spot. C+
Mastroneni (M) - He was playing the backup to Bradley, so when Michael missed the chance to take the ball, Mastroneni was there to capture. He did look tired towards the end. B+
Beasley (M) - He was trying to ignite down and did look dangerous when in the area but too often he sent the ball wide, be it by shot or pass. B
Dempsey (F) - Clint tried to be the creative man in the middle but the ball always seemed to get away from him on the second touch. Did not push as much in front of goal as he has but stilled controlled balls. B+
Johnson (F) - How can he have so little fire on the international stage? If he wasn't pushing too much and getting offside, he pushed none at all. The one good thing, he does manage to get two defenders on him whenever he touches the ball, however with little support, he can't do much with it. C

Feilhaber (M) - On for Johnson in the 80th. Canada was building but when Benny came in, he threw a wrench in it until Bradley got the red card. B+
Taylor Twellman (F) - On for Dempsey in the 88th. He wasn't on long but he tried to give the team some time by taking the balls he got into the corner. Gentleman’s B
Ricardo Clark (M) - On for Mastroeni in the 89th. I'm not sure he touched the ball once so I can't really give him a grad. N/A

The team now gets ready for Mexico on Sunday afternoon in Chicago.

Mexico 1-0 Guadeloupe
Mexico was able to finely control a match and they still almost got beat. El Tri had their best outing of the whole Gold Cup and should go into the final feeling much better then they would have on Sunday. For Guadeloupe, it was a fantastic evening for goalkeeper Franck Grandel as he stopped a number of good chances from Mexico. So this means that both teams in the final have trouble finishing their chances. Should make for an interesting game.
Goal: Pardo (1) 70'

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I generally like your comments but this time I don't think we saw quite the same game. Our defense doesn't seem to grasp the concept of kicking the ball directly OOB when the opposition is close by. The back passes to Keller almost put us down a couple of times in a very shaky US 1st half. I've also gotta slightly disagree with you on the ref. I loved the play-on he kept calling in general and specifically on the offsides but 2 brutal calls bring his grade way down. 1) The offsides at the end - the Canadians got jobbed.
2) Bocanegra's yellow. How different would the game have been for the straight red that tackle deserved.
3) A couple of grades I greatly disagree with -
Donovan C-;Gooch C;Johnson F
4) Hope Bradley never uses that formation again. It stifles Donovan and DMB's creativity.
We were soooo lucky. Great job with the blog
Craig from NYC

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow.... I don't know where to start. I must have seen a totally different game than you. I thought the whole team was out of sync, many many many errand passes, as usual hardly any ball control skills, etc. I saw hardly any improvements from the players or coaches from game 1 to yesterday's game. At this time I would rate this team as a B-. Winning ugly can only go so far but sooner or later you got to show something positive and I don't see it. I worry about Bradley as a coach - Its been a long time since I saw the US team look so out of touch. I thought at least he would pick up from Bruce legacy and improve the team but instead I feel the team has taken 10 steps back. Unless a miracle happens we are going to get our butts kicked very very hard in Copa America.
Ron - San Diego

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

johnson was a machine ! are u guys blind. every time he got the ball he made EXCELLENT decisions to eeither lay it off or dribble with it. the canadian defenders were all over him so he played a smart game by laying the ball off then making the run.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before I begin - am I the only one who thinks that "Max" guy on FSC is horrible?!? Is his last name Johnson? I saw him interview Bocanegra, Bornstein, & Dempsey during one of the Gold Cup and it was outright painful. Give me Eric Wynalda any time. The other guy (Caligiuri I think) was OK - he has gotten better as the tournament has gone forward. At least he keeps that Max clown on track talking about soccer.

I've never been a fan of Hejduk, but I think he played OK last night. He hustles and he's quick, but I've seen him get beat a lot in international play. I was actually happy to see him get a goal yesterday though.

Agree completely that Onyewu played smarter yesterday. That said, I still don't have a lot of confidence with him in the back. Bornstein is good, but my favorite lineup in the back includes both Spector & Simek.

We really need some finishers upfront. I thought Johnson was going to be that guy but has been disappointing of late.

The players who have been most impressive to me over the last 6 weeks:
Donovan (given)

Sorry to jump around. Keep up the blog - looks great.

6:05 PM  

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