Chances are if you watched today’s USMNT game at Soldier Field in Chicago it won’t rank high on your list of memorable USMNT games.
There was little flair though, yes, a very positive performance. 2-0 for the good guys.
However for those of us who report on the USMNT, Gold Cup and US progression in hemispheric and global soccer, this game was about one thing really: reinforcement
I’ll save one major reinforcement observation for a column on Friday, but here’s what was reinforced today if you partook in the viewing:
– This is clearly Stu Holden’s last Gold Cup as a proving ground. Holden was clearly dominant. He was so sure of his play that he allowed things to develop and rarely made a mistake.
– Robbie Rogers has it, but needs time to develop. Rogers was again hurried, but this time aggressive. His crosses were excellent. He took a knock on the head in the mid 2nd half and wasn’t the same, but Rogers will be on display for awhile.
– U.S. strikers (more on this tomorrow) need to play a more active and creative game.
– Logan Pause, Jay Heaps, Davy Arnaud are skilled players, however may not be worthy of advancing for their country passed Gold Cup level.
– And Brian Ching in one play showed his true potential if he could develop more deft touches with the ball.
Beyond these observations, the US played a solid if unspectacular game.
Now, let’s get into the analysis.
As usual, we go: Summary – Preview Follow-up – Ratings
Best Play of the Game: (Troy Perkins) While the Yank’s Holden-to-Goodson corner for the first score was textbook, it was Troy Perkins who made the play, and save, of the game coming out in the 85th minute to thwart a Honduran run up the middle. Jay Heaps, cleaned up the mess, but Perkins was clinical in closing down the threat and keeping the score 1-0. Well done.
Most Unheralded Play of the Game: (Clarence Goodson) This is the second game in a row that the emergency center defender earned this. After earning the start, it was in the 75th minute that a well-played cross was played into open space in the US back third, Goodson–once again showing the technical acumen TSG applauded him for in the Panama game–took a specific and perfect angle in stopping Carlos Costly from turning him and having an unimpeded path to goal. Goodson’s body angle and positioning, shear perfection. Well played.
Golden Shinguard: (Stu Holden) If this award went to Chad Marshall, Clarence Goodson, Troy Perkins or Brian Ching I’m not sure anyone would dispute it, but Stu Holden was simply an all-star among pros. There is no better way to phrase it.
Here’s what TSG was looking for prior to the game:
Will Parkhurst (who we figure to start) and Marshall clamp down on Carlos Costly? We say yes
The answer is an emphatic yes, with a slight exception. BB tabbed Clarence Goodson to start and despite being a little soft as the game drew to a close, both Goodson and Marshall proved that the center back position is a U.S. strength.heading into South Africa
Davy Arnaud – we want you to test the Honduran final curtain with your speed and quickness
Arnaud, in short, disappointed. He did not link up well at all with the midfield and frankly looked gas. Whether it was the physical beating he took against Panama or not, he just didn’t produce today.
Robbie Rogers to come out fired up and really challenge down the left flank and track back on D
Not a direct yes or no here. Rogers really reminds me of young Clint Dempsey or even Justin Mapp before the injuries. He’s going to impress — he’s just not there yet. Did a great job of creating chances, including baiting a backfield cross in the 1st half that nearly led to a score, but didn’t finish. He’ll get there; bet on it.
C: Bob Bradley – 5
Noticing a pattern? Basically, with no more than a “6” ranking from TSG yet, we’re seeing Bob Bradley as your average coach. Despite recalling Michael Parkhurst, Bradley made a keen decision to start Clarence Goodson and was rewarded with a killer performance from him. However, again the U.S. attack was mundane. Finally, Bradley, who’s shown a penchant to be too loyal to some favorites, left Robbie Rogers in too long after a blow to the head (anyone could tell Rogers was not himself afterward), leaving the middie in for almost ten minutes as Rogers eyes looked glassy on each camera shot. Bradley waited too long to bring in Kenny Cooper as well (84min) when Arnaud clearly was not pushing the play. Bob, you need to do better.
G: Troy Perkins – 8
Challenged twice and game up big twice — that’s all you can ask for. Parried a solid opportunity in the 1st half over the limbo bar on a wicked shot and came out to defend an errant Carlos Costly late in the 2nd. Perkins shows an uncanny ability to known when to stay at home and when to come out and challenge. Additionally, seems to have great communication with his backline.
D: Jay Heaps – 6.5
If I was grading Jay Heaps to his ability I would give him a 9.5 for the game. The reality is: he’s not your national team’s first choice defender. Was absolutely stellar in defense on a wider pitch, however showed absolutely zero ability to threaten in the attack.
D: Clarence Goodson – 8
Quickly dealing himself into discussion in the US’s now crowded center back pecking order. Absolutely unfailing in his technical game, Goodson showed himself a threat on set pieces by scoring the first goal on a Stu Holden cross to end the 1st half. Dare I say the U.S. is best served sending Boca out wide with the depth we now have in the middle.
D: Chad Marshall – 7.5
Solid, solid, solid. Didn’t see him get beat once and again controlled the distribution excellently from the back. You didn’t notice him, like an offensive tackle in football who shuts down a pass rushes and gets no penalties.
D: Heath Pearce – 7
Had to deal with the speed of Honduran striker Marvin Chavez and did so adequately; helped out on the attack.
M: Robbie Rogers – 6.5
Comments were made earlier — has the stuff, just not sure how and when to deploy it yet.
M: Logan Pause – 4.5
A non-factor. Seemed it was always Kyle Beckerman who was forward and Pause merely holding behind him. Did track down some countering offenders. He’s not USMNT material with the U.S. loaded defensive midfield.
M: Kyle Beckerman – 7
Great in possession and moved the ball well. Was always in the play on both offense and defense. Played smartly and made the right pass. Really, a pleasure to watch.
M: Stu Holden – 8.5
Well, he solved the set pieces today. Beyond the service to Goodson for the first goal, had an outswinger to Ching that narely missed. Played some great one and two touch with the midfield. For Holden, the game appeared to be moving in slow motion. His performance is all the more impressive in that Jay Heaps did not help him threaten down the right flank. Holden, who factored in both scores, is quickly playing his way into the first team minutes dicussion.
F: Brian Ching – 6.5
Worked tirelessly all day on the up-and-over ball and he usually does. Had a clever backheal to Holden that led to a score. However, Ching is one-dimensional–he can really be a difference maker is he can add at least another skill.
F: Davy Arnaud – 4.5
Not his day; we covered him above.
Sub: M: Santino Quaranta – (inc.)
Came on at the 76th, didn’t make an impression, but didn’t make any mistakes.
Sub: F: Kenny Cooper – 7.5
That’s 4 goals in 6 appearances for Kenny Cooper. The chorus for more playing time will continue. Cannot for the life of me figure out why BB didn’t bring him on sooner. Showed range in his game, by beating defenders on the wing, moving the ball and then tiptoeing the offsides line for the 2nd US score. If there is knock on Cooper’s 7 minutes, it’s that he jogged a bit too much. Coops, you’re in for 7 minutes, run your cleats off.
One off the noggin…
One off the heel…
More on US strikers tomorrow and we’ll see you on Sunday.