By IVES GALARCEP
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica– The game was over before the U.S. Men’s National Team could even pose a threat, with the first Costa Rica goal in a 3-1 victory coming in a matter of seconds. The early onslaught by the ‘Ticos’ left the Americans overwhelmed and even established veterans who could normally be counted on to step up in the face of adversity were nowhere to be found during that ugly start.
What Jurgen Klinsmann and some players chose to focus on after Friday’s loss was the stretch from about the 30th minute to just before Costa Rica’s third goal, a period of time the U.S. team actually made a game of it. That stretch of game was certainly more flattering to the Americans, but the reality is you couldn’t ignore just how thoroughly outplayed they were by the Ticos early on.
The U.S. team sleepwalked at the start and paid the high price, and while you could put some of the blame on that early funk on Michael Bradley’s pre-game injury, there was still no excuse for how badly some players played, particularly players Klinsmann chose to start over other more reasonable options.
So who actually impressed for the U.S. team on Friday? There weren’t many players you could really praise for being true difference makers. There were far more players who came up short, and simply didn’t do enough.
Here are the SBI USMNT Player grades for Friday’s 3-1 loss to Costa Rica:
SBI USMNT PLAYER GRADES vs. Costa Rica
TIM HOWARD (5)- Critics will point to his decision to stay on his line on third goal but decision wasn’t a bad one. Uncertainty did creep in on other occasions, but he also made some important plays even if the overall performance wasn’t one of his best.
MICHAEL OROZCO (3)- The decision to start Orozco at right back as a puzzling one, and Orozco didn’t do much to make Klinsmann look good for making it. He was overwhelmed in the first 30 minutes, and while he wasn’t abused as much defensively in the remainder of the match, he never looked that comfortable and provided little getting forward.
MATT BESLER (4)- His worst start since becoming a national team regular, Besler was torched on the clinching goal and struggled for much of the night to deal with Joel Campbell’s power and pace. The yellow card was a terrible call, meaning that barring a successful appeal, Besler won’t have his chance for redemption on Tuesday vs. Mexico.
OMAR GONZALEZ (5.5)- Was the best defender on a forgettable night for the back four. Gonzalez made some very important defensive plays, though he could have been more of a presence in the early part of the match.
DAMARCUS BEASLEY (3)- The worst game of Beasley’s recent run at left back, he was beaten repeatedly and provided very little in the attack.
JERMAINE JONES (4.5)- A look at the final stats of Jones performance will suggest he actually had a pretty decent game, but his awful form in the match’s early going was one of the key reasons Costa Rica was able to jump out to such a strong start. Absolutely must be better against Mexico or U.S. could be in real trouble.
GEOFF CAMERON (4.5)- Much like Jones, Cameron improved as the match went on, but that shaky start can’t be ignored and his struggle with Costa Rica’s fast pace was evident, though Jones did him no favors by committing several turnovers.
GRAHAM ZUSI (4.5) – Gets a grade boost for the quickly-taken free kick that led to drawing the penalty for the lone U.S. goal, but Zusi did little else and really struggled to deal with Costa Rica’s pace on the wing.
FABIAN JOHNSON (6) – The U.S. team’s best threat on a day with not much of an attack to speak of. Johnson freelanced a bit more than usual and put himself in some dangerous spots. Drew the penalty with a well-timed run, and was denied a goal by a beautiful save by Keylor Navas.
CLINT DEMPSEY (5) – Struggled to make his mark on the match, and didn’t look completely comfortable in the target forward role. He did convert the penalty kick, but it wasn’t exactly a well-taken penalty.
LANDON DONOVAN (5) – Tried to find the game, and had a few moments, but never could break through Costa Rica’s tough defense.
EDDIE JOHNSON (4) – Failed to make much of an impact off the bench.
JOZY ALTIDORE (3) – The only thing he did during his cameo was manage to draw a dumb yellow card that will rule him out of Tuesday’s crucial World Cup qualifier vs. Mexico.
ARON JOHANNSSON (NR) – Made his qualifying debut, but didn’t have enough time to make an impact.
What do you think of our grades? Who were we too generous with? Who deserved a better grade?
Share your thoughts below.