Follow-up on our quick review, our customary awards and player ratings.
First, I was speaking with Shaun after the game–and I just noticed he posted his first round report cards–and he commented, “Do the U.S. and England realize that it took such a huge effort to beat Algeria and Slovenia? We’re not talking about Brazil and Spain.”
A sobering and accurate comment from Shaun. That said–and you will notice some strong ratings below–the United States did everything but convert their chances on the day. Quite honestly, offsides call or no offsides all, that should have been a 3-0 victory for the Yanks.
On we go.
Best Play Of The Game:
Hard not to give this one to the Howard to Donovan to Altidore to Dempsey to Donovan, knock in, group stage winner, history. I can’t explain it any better than the moment that you likely saw it and I won’t try.
Most Unheralded Play Of The Game: Jozy Altidore
(35th Minute) Jozy Altidore is boxed it on the right wing. He has no outlet passes and Algeria has been controlling the run-of-play for the past few minutes. Jozy, with no options, makes a move, beats his man on the touchline side, ignites an attack and the momentum shifts.
Golden Shinguard: Jozy Altidore
With due respect to Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore nips them. A near full 94 minutes of work that included service control, runs from wide, runs up the middle of the pitch and plenty of fouls suffered along the way.
Jozy needed to score today, but other than that well done.
Tim Howard – 7
Not much work. Did his job, Great outlet play for the most part, including on the group clinching goal rumble. Typical Tim.
…and by the way, nothing better than the camera shot of Howard, by his lonesome in the goal celebrating by himself.
Steve Cherundolo – 6.5
Beyond a 1st frame miscue, Cherundolo was steady and balanced with his forward attempts with his defensive responsibilities. Cherundolo–who is rumored headed back to Hannover ’96 next year–stock certainly rose and at just north of 30 and past some injuries, this may be his prime.
Jay DeMerit – 6.5
Typical shaky beginning for DeMerit. Tongue bite that purchased him 5 stitches seemed to wake him up. Well done in man-marking all day long and didn’t make a single mistake after halftime. Was constantly seen shouting communication after his rough first half with a somewhat new partner.
Carlos Bocanegra – 7
Took about 15 minutes for him to wake up and realize that he was playing as a central defender today. His move to the middle was a welcome one as it seemed to add stability. Helped in some cover for Bornstein and was solid on distribution to Altidore up the pitch as well.
Jonathan Bornstein: 6.5
Surprising, as I said here. Those that read TSG religiously know I have a fondness for his skill, but lament how quickly he loses confidence. Bornstein’s fundamentals weren’t all that strong today and he played some aggressive and questionable passes.
However, Bornstein was more than solid in man marking, earning two corners and three attacks defended when he was out on an island 1-on-1. Got forward fairly often as well.
Landon Donovan: 7
Donovan may have not seen the ball much today, but, as we wrote in our last piece, he was no less effective. Efficient with nearly all his service, Donovan drew the Foxes defense to him, so much so that late in the game both Benny Feilhaber and Clint Dempsey found space on the right flank as Algeria stuck with Donovan.
Michael Bradley: 7.5
What can you say about Bradley? The amount of pitch he covers is phenomenal. Bradley was the main distributor in the midfield today and did well. Trailed into the open space in the offensive third and created chances. His free kick is starting to become a weapon as well.
The maturation of Bradley–no cards yet and plenty of composure–is occurring at the highest level.
Maurice Edu: 5.5
In short, the Yanks’ best option to pair Michael Bradley. Edu won the ball with confidence today, however he failed a few times to prevent a dribbling opponent from getting space and taking a smack on Howard. Threw a few ill-advised passes into the center of the pitch, but otherwise a solid effort from the Ibrox man.
Clint Dempsey: 6.5
Took advantage of the space created by Donovan. Had 4 or 5 good chances and should have buried more than just the goal that was rescinded. Always, beyond just the game-winning play, seemed to make the right run or go to the right space in attack.
Jozy Altidore: 7.5
Everything, but score.
Altidore’s energy and play ebb and flow during the game; this game was no different. However, Altidore’s prowess in possession is getting better and better and his first touch was on today. Best I’ve ever seen from him in that department.
If he starts finishing chances this World Cup, lookout.
Herculez Gomez: 6.5
Clearly ready for his World Cup start. Didn’t back down and came out firing. Played off Altidore very well. Should have stuck “that one” in the back of the net. Challenged some in linking, but hard to expect precision with little playing time.
Remember, we’re talking about a player that was disowned by the Kansas City Wizards after 2009.
Benny Feilhaber: 6.5
Note, Feilhaber was in for three reasons: 1) To provide calmness on the ball 2) To slide into the middle if the Yanks needed more offense and pushed Dempsey back-down from the striker role and 3) Experience.
While Feilhaber did all those things, the ball kept finding him in critical offensive situations. It almost seemed like Algeria was saying “make Feilhaber beat us.”
He, of course, couldn’t do it, but otherwise showed well.
Edson Buddle: 6
Is the talent not obvious to everyone else. I know people say he’s not similar to Jozy but I think he is. He takes angled runs to create space and receive a forward pass.
Missed his chances, but showed he’s up for the physical level of the international game. I still say he should get more playing time.
DaMarcus Beasley: INC
Welcome back! Last time we saw you in South Africa….nevermind. Beas had a nice cameo for Bornstein and got called for a phantom handball in the box.