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The Good, the Not-So-Good, and the Bad

May 29, 2010

One game closer to South Africa (only one more international friendly left before the showdown with the English), the focus has clearly shifted from individuals to the collective whole. With today’s game a good result (a 2-1 victory compared to the Czech Republic 4-2 loss), a few more answers, but still some unanswered questions (at the outside back position and Altidore’s strike partner). Here’s some individual assessments, with the focus now on the individuals’ contribution to the team as a whole and the possible roles these players will soon play against England on June 12.

Courtesy: ussoccer.com

The Good

Jozy Altidore – On his one scoring opportunity in the game, he left no doubt and finished a well-played ball from Landon Donovan. In the first half he beat his man and laid a good ball that just missed a charging Clint Dempsey. When Robbie Findley replaced Dempsey up top, Altidore also did well to fall back to get the ball from the midfield.

Carlos Bocanegra – Better than each of the other outside back in tracking back against Turkey’s counter-attack, while also making himself involved in offensive buildup and, like Bradley, being a target-man on set pieces.

Michael Bradley – Covered the most ground of any player on the pitch, including making two great runs into the box. His unselfishness kept him off the scoresheet on one such run. Played well as both an attacking midfielder with Ricardo Clark and a holding with Jose Torres. Continues to be viable target-man on set pieces with his size, strength, and finishing ability.

Landon Donovan – When he touched the ball, he was serving the ball in exceptionally well, tallying two assists on the day. He also continued to make himself available, continuing to make runs from and to a variety of different positions on the field.

Tim Howard – Conceded one goal, but that was as much, if not more, on his supporting backline than on him. He commanded his box well, including tipping one dangerous free kick over the bar.

Steve Cherundolo – The captain from the Czech Republic game is quickly making a case, if not solidifying, a position in the starting XI for the England game in less than two weeks with his ability to come forward on the attack, but also track back to get in good defensive position and closing out on attacking players.

Oguchi Onyewu – Better in the air today. Looks closer to 100% than he did earlier in the week. Closed out well in a scramble in the box. Closed down space than each of the center-backs today.

Jose Torres – When Ricardo Clark made way for Torres, the amount of possession, particularly in the middle and attacking third shifted in favor of the U.S. team. Dispayed an exceptional touch, controlled the ball well, and also played exceptional balls to the outside midfielders and strikers.

The Not-So-Good

Clint Dempsey – His game-winning score makes it tough to put him in this category, but his touch, by his standards, was lacking today, particuarly early. His timing was also off early, failing to finish a ball laid off by Jozy Altidore. He looked more comfortable making runs and possessing the ball at his usual outside midfielder position.

Jay DeMerit- He lacked his usual energy and while he played well individually at his center back position, he didn’t do a good enough job closing out and limiting space for Turkey’s attackers when forced to cover ground for his outside backs.

Benny Feilhaber – When played the ball, he showed his usual good touch with the ball, but, given an entire half to make himself involved, he, unlike Donovan or Dempsey, failed to put pressure on the Turkish defense with a lack of crosses, through balls, and taking on opposing players.

Clarence Goodson – While he made no glaring mistakes, he failed to continue the momentum from the Czech Republic game. Also, while he was in the game the backline gave way more space than when he made way for Oguchi Onyewu so he must bear some of the responsibility with his accompanying outside backs.

Robbie Findley – Showed an exception pace and ability to take on and beat defenders on the dribble, but looked for his own shot instead of crossing or playing the ball through to other attacking players. He didn’t look too comfortable, probably looking to impress Bob Bradley for more playing time, and dribbled out of bounds for eventually Turkish goal kicks on two separate occasions.

Stuart Holden – Not given as much an opportunity as in the Czech Republic game, probably due to Bob Bradley’s inclination to give him rest following a 90-minute effort in that game, he was not too involved, but was also not caught out of position or make any glaring mistakes.

The Bad

Ricardo Clark – Like Jay DeMerit, when he made way for Jose Torres, the Americans were able to hold possession in the midfield a lot better and limited the space Turkey was able to control and work the ball. Unlike Michael Bradley and Jose Torres, he didn’t really assume a clear position in the attack or defense.

Jonathan Spector – He did well coming forward, but performed badly in tracking back. He committed the turnover that led to Turkey’s only goal and, given increased expectations to play a key role at outside back, his performance was a disappointment.

Jonathan Bornstein – He didn’t play much, but given his few opportunities, he continued to find himself out of position and outpaced by Turkey’s forwards.

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