Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
SANDY, Utah– The first half was a showcase in frustration, but for the U.S. Men’s National Team, the story of Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory vs. Honduras was the team’s resolve and ability to improve in the second half.
The U.S. attack generated in the second half, and controlled possession throughout the match, while the American defense held firm, and bent while not breaking to post the team’s fourth shutout in six qualifiers.
Jozy Altidore’s evolution as the team’s goal-machine continued, while Fabian Johnson turned in another solid showing on the wing. Graham Zusi and Eddie Johnson provided some quality on the flanks as well, while Clint Dempsey contributed despite playing a relatively quiet match by his lofty standards.
So how did the U.S. players fare individually on Tuesday night? Here are SBI’s USMNT player grades for their 1-0 victory vs. Honduras:
USA 2, HONDURAS 0: USMNT PLAYER GRADES
Tim Howard (6.5). Made just one save he needed to make and he commanded the penalty area well. Steady and strong outing.
Brad Evans (6). A better showing than the Panama match, Evans held his own and was never really overrun by Honduras’ speed on the flanks.
Matt Besler (7). Another strong outing for the Sporting KC defender. Had one bad turnover in the first half, which led to Tim Howard’s lone save of the night, but for the most part he handled the ball very well and made defensive plays when called upon.
Omar Gonzalez (5.5). The jitters continue, and his lack of confidence on the ball continues to be apparent, but he limited the costly mistakes of past matches and did make some solid plays. Has he done enough to keep the starting job? Geoff Cameron might be closing ground on him.
Fabian Johnson (7.5). Made a smooth transition back from left wing to left back and enjoyed his best match as a U.S. national team player. Provided consistently sharp service on the left flank and delivered the assist on Altidore’s game winner.
Graham Zusi (7). A largely ineffective first half was quickly forgotten after turning in one of the best second-half performances on the U.S. team. His mobility, passing and vision helped drive the U.S. attack in the decisive stretch in the second half, and his dummy on the game-winning goal sequence deserves some credit.
Jermaine Jones (5). Wasn’t his strongest game, and he committed some bad turnovers, but he made his presence felt in a very important battle in the midfield. His tenacity and toughness kept Honduras from bossing the middle, but he didn’t exactly play well enough to avoid questions about whether he should be the sure-fire partner to Michael Bradley.
Michael Bradley (7). Another strong effort, including a first-half showing that was the best on the U.S. team. Continues to be a vital fulcrum for the offense, and on a night when Honduras tried to impose their will in the middle, Bradley was an absolute force.
Eddie Johnson (6). In first viewing, Johnson’s showing Tuesday didn’t seem to register much, but a second look at the match revealed plenty of important work from the Sounders star, including one great chance that would have been a goal if not for a great save by Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares.
Clint Dempsey (6.5). A quiet match by Dempsey’s standards, but he stepped up his involvement in the second half, and helped drive the attack with some important passes and chances (including a saved header in the 70th minute). He helped set up the winning goal by finding Fabian Johnson on the left wing.
Jozy Altidore (7.5). Man of the Match, not just for his game-winning goal, but for his effort in pressing Honduras defensively and his work to combine with teammates. A great cap to an outstanding run of games.
Geoff Cameron (6). Very active during his 16 minutes, completing several passes and helping preserve the lead.
Brad Davis (5.5). Wasn’t as active as Cameron during his late cameo, but helped hold the lead with some good plays, including a free kick drawn early in his appearance.
Edgar Castillo (NR). Played just three minutes.
Jurgen Klinsmann (7). The decision to start Jones over Cameron wasn’t exactly validated, but Klinsmann’s decision to play Fabian Johnson on the left wing was clearly a master stroke, as was his decision to go with Graham Zusi again. He subbed in Cameron at a good time to help preserve the lead.
What did you think of our grades? Who do you feel was graded too generously? Who deserved a higher grade?
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