US 3-0 Poland - We kill you with set pieces, player grades
Set them up and we'll knock them down. The US rolled over a difficult Polish side thanks to their amazing ability to confuse the defense on free kicks. All three goals were the result of plays from dead ball situation.
Overall the team held together well with the defense looking particularly sharp. Tim Howard had a very easy night in front of net thanks to the work down in front of him. In the midfield, the US won a lot of the possession game and had limited give aways. Up top, well things need improvement.
Any goal is a good goal, so I am not knocking the result, but it would be so nice to get a goal from the run of play (I think I wrote the same thing about the U23s). There is no doubt that America has improved over the last 6 years, but if they want to run with the big boys, a pure striker is needed.
So how did everyone do? Here are my player grades:
Tim Howard (GK) - Didn't have to do much, but he did it when needed. Did a good job organizing the defense. Grade: A
Steve Cherundolo (D) - Kept the right side clear. The couple times he did get beat, he made some good tickles to get the ball back. A-
Oguchi Onyewu (D) - He played a smart, physical game, which closed down options in the center for Poland and didn't earn him a card. This was his best game for the national team in over a year. A
Carlos Bocanegra (D) - He might not be getting the playing time at Fulham, but he still has something. He did get turned a couple times, but he also helped Pearce on the left. Add to it a goal and you have a good night. B
Heath Pearce (D) - Left back is still the weakest position in the US lineup, but Pearce made a good case for himself on the night. His one weak point, bad clearances. B-
Landon Donovan (M) - Landon finally shows something in Europe. His passing was precise, he got back to help on defense and he made himself open for the attack. If only he had finished the breakaway, it would have been a fantastic night. As far as dead balls, I guess Beckham has taught him something. A
Ricardo Clark (M) - Stopped some attacks, but misread plays a bit too often. C+
Michael Bradley (M) - Not a breakout night, but he did a lot of little things, including picking a few pockets. B+
Clint Dempsey (M) - He always seems frustrated these days. His play is still creative, but he never gets the ball in a place where he seems to want it. B
Brian Ching (F) - I'm sure some folks will disagree but Ching showed well. He used his physicality to push his way into space and did okay on the ball. As a target man, he gave the mids a good extra option, which force Poland to double cover him at times. Still needs to speed up his game for the international level and needs to make more of his chances. B-
Eddie Johnson (F) - I really like Johnson, but he has been lost on the pitch for a long time now. He just doesn't seem to see the game happening around him and he is scared to take the shot. C-
Josh Wolff (F) - On for Ching in the 63'. Found his space and placed some good balls. Still making a case for a start. B+
Jay DeMerit (D) - On for Onyewu in the 63'. Proof that there is some serious depth developing in the center back position. A-
Eddie Lewis (M) - On for Donovan in the 64'. Well maybe he is in the running for a 2010 spot. His free kick was perfect and his field play was strong as well. A-
Jonathan Spector (D) - On for Cherundolo in the 72'. Nice work to keep a clean sheet late and he knows how to get the ball out of the danger zone. B+
Benny Feilhaber (M) - On for Pearce in the 85'. He wasn't in much, but he did make a little noise. His game looked better, but with just 8 minutes of playing time, I can't really grade him. No grade.
Subs not used: Marcus Hahnemann (GK), Cory Gibbs (D)
USA - Carlos Bocanegra 12',Oguchi Onyewu 35', Eddie Lewis 73'
One last grade, the new away jersey. Simple black with blood red accents. Looks far better then the home kit. Maybe basic black is the way to go, I mean it is so slimming. A