This is Part II of our review on the USA-Slovenia draw. (Part I)
In our first part of our review, we discussed the tactical issues that combined to leave the United States in a “decent” positioning to get out of the group next Wednesday.
Now we’ll continue with our customary review.
Best Play Of The Game – Donovan’s Roof Job
With apologies Maurice Edu’s go ahead score and the Jozy knock-on to a charging Michael Bradley for the poke to even it it up, Landon Donovan earns this one for goal number one.
Donovan was played down the right. After an error by Slovenia’s rightback, Donovan walked in all alone on the keeper waiting for a pass to cutback. None materialized and as the defenders start to bear down, Landon went right past Handovic’s ear to put the Yanks back in the game.
Shades of Luis Fabiano’s early score in the same stadium last year, not in physical similarity, but in effect. The tally put the Yanks on the prowl.
Most Unheralded Play Of The Game
We’ve got two for you.
> First, goes to Jay DeMerit who trotted over to the sideline after Michael Bradley’s equalizer to gain instruction from Big Bradley on how to play the central defense. His whole team was celebrating and DeMerit was there focused on the next task at hand.
> Michael Bradley, 88th minute. Slovenia counters and Steve Cherundolo was getting broken down on the attack. Bradley–and you could see in his facial expression he was exhausted–put on the jets and willed himself to help defense.
I castigate Bradley often for poor tackles–and one led to a counterattack today–but that was a moment worth mentioning.
Golden Shinguard – Landon Donovan
Sure Donovan played much better in the 2nd half, but he was constantly looking to attack the entire game. We mentioned in the preview that Donovan needed to own this game. He didn’t quite do that, but I just felt he was more involved in this game than any I can remember. Whether he was shouting instructions on a cross to Cherundolo, discussing Torres free kick, or his post-action–resolve and determination more than celebration–on the goal, Donovan gets the nod from TSG today.
Tim Howard: 5.5
Not your typical Howard. Got beaten on the first goal by a perfectly weighted shot that caught him a few steps from his line. Understandable, but still caught out.
TSG goalkeeper friend Jon Kart who gave us the great insight on Robert Green’s gaffe had this to say, “Tim doesn’t look comfortable back there at all. He looks like reaching for anything over his head hurts him also.”
Carlos Bocanegra: 4.5 5.5
Virtually non-existent in the attack so much so that Donovan had an onrushing Bocanegra coming up the flank for an open overlap in the first half….and looked him off.
Be very worried is Bocanegra starts against a speedy Algerian side that loves to test the flanks. Slow to close down, but no glaring mistakes on re-watch.
Oguchi Onyewu: 3.5
Answer me this question. If Oguchi Onyewu is perfect fit, then was he always this hesitant? The central defense is clearly suffering from lack of reps. That’s two games and three goals conceded the Onyewu unfortunately played a part in.
It’s time for a reliever, see Bocanegra comments, speed, Algeria, trouble.
Jay DeMerit: 5.5 6.5
Beat by Novakovic in the air on multiple occassions, but often gave of his body and made the necessary tackles. Communication with Onyewu was off.
Steve Cherundolo: 6
Looked lost without Donovan in front of him in the first half. Challenged in possession–which was a knock on him before his current fine form. Solid one-on-one defending most times though.
Landon Donovan: 7
You have to like that Donovan first half and second was continually looking to take the game to the Dragons. You had to not like his lack of sliding-in on a Dempsey cross to try and get a goal before halftime.
Made up for that by going Fabiano to start the 2nd half as well as constantly haranguing his teammates to get in the game.
Jose Torres: 4.5
I wrote the following in the commentary in the last piece and I’ll put it in here:
“It is very hard in my opinion, to introduce a new central midfield pairing….who haven’t played more than 90 meaningful game minutes together…at the World Cup…against a stout defense…and then expect them to own possession.
I know folks were clamoring for Torres, but I just thought that was a terrible move that misjudged the Slovenian midfield WHEN AT FULL STRENGTH.
Torres against a slower defense in the 4-4-1-1 might have shined.”
Wicked free kick attempt though, but not his day.
Michael Bradley: 7
Many were clamoring for Bradley for man-of-the-match. You can’t bet the farm on a tackle that leaves Slovenia with a counterattack (and score) and win man-of-the-match. Can’t do it.
Covered for more than two people as usual and never stopped. Toe poke past Handanovic for the equalizer was a slice of The Beautiful Game.
Lucky he didn’t get T’d up by Old Blindeyes with his late in-your-face job on the ref.
Clint Dempsey: 5
Absolutely atrocious on the ball defense from Clint for most of the day. Start competing and went playground on a few tussles in the 2nd half.
Needed to net today.
Robbie Findley: 4.5
To be fair, the gameplan of Findley and Altidore staying even and testing the Slovenian offsides line was flawed.
Overworked to get himself in position. Typical final ball challenges. Same book on Findley. On to…
Jozy Altidore: First half – 4, Second half – 8
Doesn’t play well unless inspired to do so. It’s once again obvious that he was the gift.
If Altidore can find consistency, the complexion of the offense changes immensely.
Maurice Edu – 6 5.5
Hawked effectively and–something that few will point out–was able to win the ball and turn upfield with it. Very critical in catching Slovenians defense off guard.
Revised downward for two giveaways in possession as well as slow to track back once.
Benny Feilhaber – 4.5
In to provide calm on the ball an tuck in and find runs. Didn’t do much in possession. Failed to close-down a shooter that almost led to a third Slovenian goal. Went for an ill-advised leg whip that could have earned him a straight red, but it didn’t connect.
Herculez Gomez – INC.
Cleared out on the Bradley score, but what do you rate him?