Thursday, February 07, 2008

US 2-2 Mexico - Player Grades

US 2-2 Mexico
The US got outplayed last night and probably should have lost the game, but Tim Howard was just not having any of it. So what is the biggest thing we learned last night? The US is in serious need of some outside backs. Mexico was just racing it in with no interruption till they hit the Bocanegra-Onyewu wall.

There was also the bright spot of Jozy Altidore who appears to have come of age. His skill on the ball along with his speed should make him the striker we have been looking for.

Here are the grades as I see them:

Starting XI
Tim Howard (GK) - Just outstanding. Put himself where he needed to be and grabbed any ball that came near. Keeping after the ball even when Bocanegra collided with him just proves what he can do. Guzan is good but he's not unseating Howard anytime soon. A+
Drew Moor (D) - Not a good night. He was getting beat on the run of play and was the one marking Magallon on both goals. His one bright moment was the setup of Altidore's goal. C-
Carlos Bocanegra (D) - Held his ground well and covered for the mistakes of outside backs. Brought some good physical play to it all. A-
Oguchi Onyewu (D) - This was the Gooch's best match in a long time. He was commanding in defense and smart with his play, plus there was the header into the side pocket for the first goal. He still needs to work a bit on his speed, but so does most of the team, and he needs to try and limit the fouls. A
Ramiro Corrales (D) - Another 'not ready for prime time' back. He was sloppy on the ball and got turned over and over. One good thing, he kept on his mark during set pieces. C
Landon Donovan (M) - Where was he? The only time he really touched the ball was on dead balls and he didn't do a very good job with them. Okay, he did pop the ball back over to Gooch for the first goal, but other then that, nothing. C+
Ricardo Clark (M) - He held his own against a very strong Mexican midfield. He didn't shine but he also didn't sink. Decent passing but needs to control the game more. B
Michael Bradley (M) - A man of extremes. At moments he was fantastic and at others he was giving the ball away. The good outweighed the bad, but there is still a lot of space to improve the gap. B
Bobby Convey (M) - Much like Donovan, Convey was lost on the night. A couple decent touches are not enough. C
Jozy Altidore (F) - Jozy more then held his own in his first big international test. He was a little cold at the start but then he started wrecking Mexico's defense. He still has some work to do on his positioning but the technical skills are there. How great was it to watch a US forward get a goal during the run of play? A-
Clint Dempsey (F) - Wowed on the disallowed goal (what a finish) but other then that didn't do much during the game. Maybe this had something to do with it being around 4am London time, but nothing fantastic. C+

Freddy Adu (M) - On for Dempsey in the 63'. He brought some control to the game and showed a little creativity but he still has a way to go to earn a start. His passing was pretty solid. B
Benny Feilhaber (M) - On for Bradley in the 63'. If this is what he can do without any playing time for his club, imagine where he would stand with some serious minutes. His footwork was really strong and he controlled the pace of the game. Really, why is Derby not playing this man? A-
Eddie Lewis (M) - On for Convey in the 70'. Much better then I expected, seeing as he was not in camp due to injury, but still past his best days. If the team is looking for speed, Lewis is not the answer, but he was still better then Convey. B+
Maurice Edu (M) - On for Clark in the 79'. He brought in the energy needed towards the end of the match, but didn't really have a lot of time to settle. Did a decent job slowing down the Mexican advance. B+

Subs not used: Pat Noonan (F), Michael Parkhurst (D), Brad Guzan (GK)

So overall, the team did well down the center but was missing out wide. They also need to improve their passing skills in order to control the tempo. So where do we go from here? With so many problems on the defensive outside are injured Jonathan Bornstein and Steve Cherundolo the big winners of the night? Was Donovan's slump due to Mexico's increase coverage of him or did the lack of pre-game smack talk keep him from bring motivated? Is there any excuse for not starting Altidore in every possible match? Did the new home jerseys make you think this was just some sort of pickup game outside the golf club?

One final thing, the call by ESPN last night was so much better then what it once was. The topic of conversation was almost always focused on what was happening or just happened on the pitch plus there were moments when the commentators said nothing. They still need to work on some of their camera angles and play backs (I never did see Dempsey offside on his goal), but still a great improvement.

Scoring summary:
USA: Oguchi Onyewu (Landon Donovan) 30', Jozy Altidore (Drew Moor) 40'
Mexico: Jonny Magallon (Pavel Pardo) 35', Jonny Magallon (Carlos Salcido) 47'
Attendance: 70,103

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Anonymous Ole said...

Mike - why do you think Bradley played Donovan on the wing? I'd much prefer to see Dempsey out there. Put Donovan up top if he's not going to play as a withdrawn forward. That's his best position.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Mike H said...

Ole - I can see why Bradley started off with this setup since Dempsey has been playing up top for his club, but I'm not sure why he didn't change after about 30-minutes. Perhaps he was hoping for more balls in the air, something the Dempsey is much better at, but I'm not sure. Donovan wasn't getting any traction out wide and he normally does better in that second forward position, so I can't say.

Maybe Bradley really likes the Altidore-Dempsey pairing and wanted more minutes on it?

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great analysis. I think your grades were spot on, and I agree wholeheartedly with almost every one of them. However, where I have to disagree is with your opinion of the announcers. For me, Harkes is no substitute for Wynalda. I suppose the reason ABC/ESPN ditched Wynalda was because he was a tad controverisal and never shied away from saying exactly what was on his mind (which was often exactly what I happened to be thinking...or yelling at the screen as the case may be). Harkes, in contrast, offered very little insight into the game, and seemed to be simply stating statistics or echoing what J.P. already said. I found the officiating to be very inconsistent last night, and the distribution of cards almost random. This was especially the case in the 2nd half, where it disrupted the flow of the game. Now, I understand that reffing a US-MEX match is a difficult task, as things can quickly escalate out of control, but I would have liked to hear Wynalda's views, as he surely would be keeping the refs honest. All in all, both announcers were silent on the matter of poor officiating and were baffling regarding their lack of explanation on the Dempsey non-goal. I mean, they sat in silence without replay or explanation, and failed to ever show a conclusive replay. I missed Wyanlda last night, and felt that Harkes contributed very little. But then again, I like an announcer that speaks his mind and watches the game like a fan.

5:06 PM  
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3:30 PM  

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