Photo by ISIPhotos.com
The U.S. Men’s National Team overcame a poor start and put together a solid second half to come away from Wednesday’s friendly vs. Russia with a 2-2 draw. There were some standout performances, including Man of the Match-caliber efforts from Michael Bradley and Tim Howard, and there were performances that Jurgen Klinsmann would just as soon forget.
The night also provided a good chance for some young players to stake their claims to more regular roles with the national team, and for Josh Gatt, it was a chance to show that Klinsmann was right for bringing him in and handing him his first national team appearance.
Overall, the match wasn’t as ugly as it may have seemed on first blush. Russia were the better side over the course of 90 minutes, but the Americans can take some provide in the fact that over the final hour of the match they were at least as good, if not better than the Russians. To accomplish that, in Russia no less, is an accomplishment.
So how did the U.S. players fare on Wednesday night? Here are the SBI player grades for the USA’s 2-2 vs. Russia (based on the consensus of grades by SBI staffers Ives Galarcep and Franco Panizo):
USA 2, Russia 2 (SBI PLAYER GRADES)
Tim Howard (7.5): Another outstanding night for the reliable veteran, who made some truly outstanding saves to keep the U.S. in it even as Russia tried to blow the game open in the first half. (IG)
Timmy Chandler (5): Playing in his first U.S. game in a year, Chandler was shaky with the ball at his feet in the opening minutes before settling in and pushing forward. Chandler whipped in some nice crosses, but no one put them away. (FP)
Geoff Cameron (6): Cameron was the best U.S. defender on the night. He put out several fires, including a potential shot on goal from close range in the first half, and was good with his distribution. Did well to hold up the defense once captain Bocanegra was removed due to injury. (FP)
Carlos Bocanegra (NA): Left the match with an injury early in the first half, and didn’t have a chance to make his mark on the game.
Fabian Johnson (4.5): Struggled to start the match and endured one of his shakier national team performances since becoming a regular starter. Was a non-factor getting forward, and struggled against Russia’s dangerous wingers. (IG)
Danny Williams (3.5): Arguably had his worst night in a U.S. jersey. Williams’ quickly-played free kick wound up finding the feet of Alexander Kerzhakov, who then set up the early Russian goal. Williams just never looked comfortable and was poor with his passing and tackling. (FP)
Michael Bradley (8): Took some time to get into the game, but by the end of the first half and into the second half, Bradley began imposing himself and driving the U.S. attack. His goal was a thing of beauty, and it was his perfect long pass into the penalty area that got knocked down for Mix Diskerud’s equalizer. (IG)
Jermaine Jones (5.5): Didn’t start the match that well, but improved as the game went on, and actually did well playing in a more advanced role as the U.S. went chasing the game. He isn’t a natural left winger, but provided some good service. Missed a clear chance set up by Jozy Altidore, but still came away with a solid effort. (IG)
Josh Gatt (5): Looked a bit nervous and his decision-making was a step too slow, but he still showed signs of being a wide player that is capable of contributing down the road. All in all, not a bad first cap for the youngster. (FP)
Herculez Gomez (5): Mostly invisible during the first half of the game, but the struggling U.S. midfield never gave him the necessary service. Per his usual standard, Gomez hustled and harassed opposing players before being subbed off. (FP)
Jozy Altidore (5.5): He did not find the back of the net and he botched a couple of opportunities, but he still put in the type of workmanlike shift that Klinsmann may be asking of him. Altidore would have had an assist in the second half if Jones could finish better. (FP)
Clarence Goodson (4.5): In fairness, it wasn’t easy for him to come in cold in the first half, but in the end he still had a shaky night and his foul on the penalty Russia converted for a second goal was clumsy and unnecessary. Didn’t exactly help his case for becoming Bocanegra’s successor in the starting lineup. (IG)
Juan Agudelo (6): Came in and provided good movement up top, helping set up Bradley’s goal with a header pass. He has the look of a perfect forward off the bench with his combination of speed and strength. (IG)
Maurice Edu (6): Came in a helped stabilize the defensive midfield role, and his pin-point long pass to Juan Agudelo eventually helped set up Michael Bradley’s goal. Given Danny Williams’ struggles, Edu might have helped his chances of taking a bigger role when qualifying begins in February. (IG)
Sacha Kljestan (5.5): The Anderlecht midfielder may be turning into somewhat of a super sub. Kljestan, who helped the Americans beat Antigua & Barbuda last month, played a simple but smart ball back to Edu that eventually led to the first U.S. goal. (FP)
Mix Diskerud (6): Diskerud just loves November friendlies. His strike for the winning goal took a lucky deflection, but he did well to put the bouncing ball on frame with a volley in the final seconds of his first game under Klinsmann. (FP)
Terrence Boyd (NR): Came in late and played his part in the comeback by fighting for position to force a Russian defender to head the ball into Mix Diskerud’s path for the equalizer. (IG)