Topic: US National Team
Howard: 8. Some girls - shallow ones - only have ugly friends. That way, the girl looks better by comparison. Did Howard really have such an outstanding game, or was it just the fact that he was standing across the field from Robert Green?
No - he was good. Although I think that Hahnemann and Guzan also would have made all of those saves. We're lucky - we have a lot of great goalkeeping options.
As good as Howard was, I'm a little annoyed by the fact that every match review I've read gushes over his performance. That's slightly insulting; they're making it sound like our goalie just had the game of his life. The reality is, England didn't create many quality chances, and two that they did create (Johnson and Heskey's chances in the second half) were capped by mediocre finishes. The fact that we only conceded one is a pretty fair reflection of the outfield play.
Cherundolo: 8. Awesome, awesome game by The Mayor of Hannover (that's his real nickname...I'm not making that up). He has it between the ears - he always shows up for big games. Loved the way he wasn't afraid to attack - I wish our central midfield had shown a bit more of that. Watching Germany today, they almost run their offense through their right back (Lahm, who is great on the ball). Seems like a tactic worth considering.
Demerit: 5.5. Did what we expect him to do. Another guy who you never worry about mentally - he's a bulldog, and he leaves it all on the field. I'm still a little worried about his depth perception after eye surgery - there were a couple of times when he misjudged the ball flight, including the play that led to his yellow card.
Onyewu: 6. Passable first half, very good second half. Glad Bradley started him. If we make it to the knockout stages, then he will have played his way into match shape by then. I'm also thrilled that he didn't pick up a yellow; Gooch is a card magnet (mostly because of his size), and the odds of Gooch being eligible for the first round of 16 game (knock on wood) just went way up.
Bocanegra: 5.5. Another guy you never worry about - he always, always, always shows up. Got beat for pace a couple times, which is inevitable. That will be much less of a problem against SLOW-venia (burn!).
As I listened to my wife detail the reasons why Carlos is rocketing up the guys-she-would-leave-me-for-in-a-nanosecond list (Carlos is now even with Eric Bana and closing in on Jon Hamm), it occurred to me: if the US makes a run in this tournament, Carlos could become a fairly big celebrity. He's personable, smart, and need-I-mention: the ladies love Carlos Bocanegra.
Donovan: 6.5. Quality game from Lando. Sparked the offense when needed, and it was needed often; he's one of the only guys we can count on to carry the ball into the opposing half. Played a very smart game. Did a lot of dirty work defensively in the second half, which was critical because England's main threat was from the wing. We've all been wondering which Landon was going to show up for this tournament, and early indications are that it's Everton Landon, not Leverkusen Landon.
Clark: 4.5. The goal was about 60% his fault (also 20% Demerit and 20% Gooch). Still, he recovered fairly well and was solid after that. Deserves a lot of the credit for keeping Rooney quiet. Won a few 50-50 balls in the midfield and didn't commit any stupid fouls. Still, I have serious problems with his distribution: he plays the ball back way too frequently. When he does play the ball forward, the results are mixed. You can argue that we needed his skillset for this particular game, so maybe Bradley made the right call in starting him. But if he starts against Slovenia, then I'll start to wonder what incriminating information he has on Bob Bradley.
Bradley: 6. Not the breakout game I was hoping for, but a good game. He's a battler; unlike some of the other midfielders, he avoided the temptation to collapse on top of the back four when England had a spell of possession. Didn't get forward very often, but that was probably by design. Played it safe, didn't give up any stupid fouls, and didn't get any cards.
Dempsey: 6. It can't be denied: the way Clint plays for the national team is different than the way he plays for Fulham. With the national team, he pushes higher - he obviously sees himself as a bigger part of the offense (and he's probably right). It's not that he's lazy; he just tends to push pretty high for a winger. He tracked back more in the second half, but in the first half he was practically a third striker. He also isn't overly interested in one-on-one defending; he'll contain, but that's about it. So, let's just yield to reality and play Clint at striker. Please, Bob, it makes sense. Do it.
Jozy: 5.5. Newsflash: Jozy is big and fast and strong. All of the English fans seemed shocked by this (apparently nobody watches the bottom half of the Premiership - nobody seemed to know that Jozy is good but Green and Guillermo Franco suck). If they had watched more US matches, they would know that Jozy is extremely dangerous when he gets the ball in good positions. The problem is, he doesn't get into good positions often enough. I'd like to see him move more off the ball - a diagonal run or two would be nice. He doesn't try to get behind the defense often enough, and I'd like to see him attack balls in the penalty area with a little more aggression. Still, pretty good game, and probably a confidence builder for the 20-year-old.
Findley: 4. You know that part in Vertigo when Jimmy Stewart dresses the woman up to look like the woman who he thought had died? Memo to Bob Bradley: Robbie Findley is not Charlie Davies. Charlie is gone, Bob - let it go. Findley may have the right skill set to go with your system, but the quality is just not there. Holden is our 11th-best player; put him on the field. Even Buddle would be better.
Buddle: 4.5. Didn't do too much, but also didn't have many opportunities; we were in lockdown mode by the time he entered.
Holden: 5. Probably deserves a n/a given how little he played, but he had a few decent touches in his short time on the field.