Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras– It was an ugly team effort by the U.S. Men’s National Team, and trying to find bright spots is one of the tougher tasks you will undergo in the wake of Wednesday’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss to Honduras.
The Americans didn’t just make one or two mistakes, or have a special goal beat them. They were out-played, out-hustled, out-worked and out-classed by a Honduran side that just looked like it wanted the three points more than the U.S. did.
Not every American player laid an egg. Tim Howard stepped up yet again, while Michael Bradley did his best to try and lead a lethargic midfield.
Unfortunately those two of the few promising performances we saw from the Americans. What we saw more off was shocking performances, like the forgettable start turned in by Danny Williams, and the surprising struggles of Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson.
Here are the SBI Player grades for Wednesday’s loss to Honduras:
TIM HOWARD- (6.5). He made some absolutely vital saves to keep the Americans in the game, and was very aggressive in his penalty area. Grade takes a dip for not getting to the ball on what eventually became the Honduras winner.
FABIAN JOHNSON- (4). Looked nothing like the fast and dynamic left back we have seen in the past. Whether it was the extreme heat, or fatigue from the quick turnaround and travel for the mid-week match, Johnson looked a shell of his usual self.
TIMMY CHANDLER- (3.5). His cap-tying experience will be one to forget as he, much like Johnson, looked a step slow and out of his element. Beaten repeatedly and offered nothing getting forward.
OMAR GONZALEZ- (4). Looked tentative and vulnerable in space against Honduras’ quick attackers. He looked overwhelmed at times and falling asleep on the Honduras winner is inexcusable. He may be a centerback for the future, but there was little evidence that he should be starting already.
GEOFF CAMERON- (5). Was better than Gonzalez, but could also have done better on the Honduras winner. Was active and broke up a good number of plays, but it wasn’t a game he’ll want to spend much time remembering.
DANNY WILLIAMS- (3). Worst player on the field. Had very little impact on the game, and was flat out overrun by Honduran midfielders. He made everybody’s job harder and it is extremely difficult to see him starting games come March.
JERMAINE JONES- (5). When a central midfielder completes fewer than 20 passes, it’s safe to say you haven’t put your stamp on the game, and Jones had just 19 (though one of them was a beautiful pass on Clint Dempsey’s goal. Fatigued in the second half, forcing a substitution that Jurgen Klinsmann probably didn’t want to make at that point. That assist helps his grade, but his performance was far from acceptable.
MICHAEL BRADLEY- (6). Was the U.S. team’s best field player, though it was tough for him to standout playing in a midfield where those around him struggled so much. He passed the ball well, but struggled more than usual with handling the two-way responsibilities he has. By his high standards, it was a below par performance.
CLINT DEMPSEY- (6). Scored a beautiful goal, but his impact was ultimately limited by a midfield and forward that moved little and passed less. He tried to be active, and was efficient with his passing, but he was eventually reduced to try and force things himself, which wasn’t going to yield much.
EDDIE JOHNSON- (4.5). He tried to take people on, and had one nice cross that Jozy Altidore nearly put on frame, but looked to tire as he put in a good amount of defensive work on the left flank. Being deployed so deep on the left flank didn’t really play to his strengths and left him far from goal.
JOZY ALTIDORE- (4). Altidore is a player who relies on movement and passing from those around him and there was very little of that on Wednesday, so Altidore was ultimately reduced to an invisible figure in the attack. He saw little of the ball and wound up with yet another frustrating performance in the national team uniform.
MAURICE EDU- (6). Came on and showed an ability to get the ball and keep the ball and move the ball, doing more of that in his sub’s appearance than either Williams or Jones did as starters. He looked like a player who was sharp after finding regular playing time in Turkey, which is why he should have probably started in the first place.
SACHA KLJESTAN- (4). Deployed on the left flank, he had little impact on the match after coming in.
GRAHAM ZUSI- (5). Gave the team some energy that it sorely needed, but not much else. With the midfield fatigued he couldn’t really get too involved. (UPDATED- Meant to give Zusi a five originally, and not a No Grade.)
JURGEN KLINSMANN- (3). All of his important lineup decisions failed him. Gonzalez over Carlos Bocanegra was clearly a mistake, no matter the motives, and starting Williams over Edu was clearly a distaster. Aside from Edu for Williams, which was a correction of his own mistake, Klinsmann’s substitutions didn’t really turn the tide.
Which American player impressed you the most on Wednesday? Which American player was the most disappointing? Who would you have given a better grade to?
Share your thoughts below.