USMNT 2, Azerbaijan 0: SBI Player Grades

USMNT starting eleven, Candlestick Park

 By IVES GALARCEP

SAN FRANCISCO- It was by no means a pretty game, or one filled with highlights and reasons to get excite about the U.S. Men’s National Team’s chances at the World Cup.

That said, there were some bright spots, and some players who took advantage of the opportunity on a windy night at Candlestick Park to make their case for more playing time when the USMNT heads to Brazil.

Brad Davis helped his stock the most, coming into the match and making an immediate impact. Widely-criticized as one of the weak link selections by Klinsmann for the 23-man roster, Davis showed off his sharp crosses, corner kicks and set pieces and had a hand in both goals scored by the Americans.

Mix Diskerud also impressed with his quality on the ball, while Geoff Cameron was outstanding in central defense.

Here is a look at how all the Americans fared on Tuesday night against Azerbaijan:

USMNT 2, Azerbaijan 0: SBI PLAYER GRADES

Tim Howard- 6. Not an extremely busy night for him, but Howard made the saves he had to on his way to becoming the USMNT career wins leader.

Fabian Johnson- 5.5. Not his sharpest match. Wasn’t a liability, but didn’t offer as much getting forward as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.

Geoff Cameron- 6.5. Extremely sharp, positioning was excellent and passing was top notch. Looks every bit a starting-caliber centerback.

Matt Besler- 6. Had some uncharacteristic shaky moments early but eventually settled down and had himself the kind of 90 minute match expected of a locked-in starter.

DaMarcus Beasley- 6. Handled himself well in 45 minutes of action, trying at times to get forward while facing defensive challenges with aplomb.

Alejandro Bedoya- 5.5. He was his usual active self, and had some encouraging moments, but consistentcy was lacking. Was deployed on both wings at times, though at times it seems clear he is placed wide for defensive purposes more than his attacking qualities on the flanks.

Jermaine Jones- 6. At times he showed his usual unwillingness to stay deep, but was a bit more disciplined than usual and provided a steady presence in the middle. Kept the ball circulating.

Michael Bradley- 5.5. Did well to impose himself in the attack early on, but couldn’t quite connect with teammates to break down Azerbaijan early. Committed some uncharacteristic turnovers.

Graham Zusi- 5.5. Flashed some good service, and put in his usual honest defensive work, but didn’t provide quite the impact you would hope from a presumptive starter. Might have cost himself some ground in the race for starting roles.

Chris Wondolowski- 5. You give him credit for putting himself in position for some chances, but he needed to do better with those chances. He also seemed a bit lost when the team was trying to combine in midfield, a sign of the technical deficiency he faces. Also had to be a bit unnerving to be thrown into the starting lineup just before kickoff in front of his home crowd.

Jozy Altidore- 5.5. No, he didn’t score, but Altidore put in a ton of dirty work, holding up the ball, drawing fouls and staying active throughout. He needs to sharpen up, no question, but for a first of four pre-World Cup friendlies (counting the Belgium one in Brazi), Altidore still has time to find the net and instill some confidence in a nervous U.S. fanbase.

Brad Davis- 7. Came off the bench and provided an immediate impact with his pin-point set pieces and a quality corner kick on Aron Johannsson’s goal. Showed the qualities that made Klinsmann add him to the 23, and may have even put some pressure on the starting wingers for minutes.

Mix Diskerud- 6.5. Smooth on the ball and creative as usual, Diskerud looked to press the issue in attack every time he got the ball. Was a bit fortunate on the goal, but still struck it well, and handled the pressure of the No. 10 shirt well.

Omar Gonzalez- 6. Didn’t hurt his cause with a solid 45 minutes. Wasn’t really asked to do a lot, but met every challenge that came his way.

Tim Chandler- 6. Extremely lively and showed off the speed he brings to the fullback position. Was more impressive than Beasley, though it did come in the second half.

Aron Johannsson- 6.5. Finished his header on the second goal very well, and was very active in his limited minutes. Continues to show well off the bench, and has the attacking qualities to push for a starting job before all is said and done.

DeAndre Yedlin- 4.5. Looked nervous and unsure, basically looked his age,  but getting 28 minutes of international experience should help him settle down as the send-off series rolls along.

———–

What did you think of the individual performances in the USMNT’s victory against Azerbaijan? Who impressed you? Who were you disappointed by?

Share your thoughts below.

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128 Responses to USMNT 2, Azerbaijan 0: SBI Player Grades

  1. Diego's Maradoughnuts says:

    Player grade. Totally forgot about these. I give myself a 3.5.

    • Diego's MaraDeezNuts says:

      We can’t afford those kinds of mistakes in Brazil. This is where we need LD.

    • Paul says:

      I thought Bradley deserved lower. Worst game from him I’ve seen in a long time – hopefully it’s out of his system.

      I would have put Jones higher. You can see the difference when JK isn’t instructing him to be the ‘street fighter.’

      And Davis – I know the announcers were gushing over him last night. But to me, he showed he shouldn’t be on the roster. He’s just too limited with the ball. Set kicks are great, I’ll give him that. But during play the best he can hope for is kicking the ball off a defender’s leg for a corner, and there’s a lot of players who can pull that off every once in a while. Great guy, I’m sure. Not good enough for top-level international play, imho.

      Oh, and Beasley, a 6? Really? The only time I noticed him was when he was giving away possession with dangerous passes. From what I saw, Chandler should have won the starting position.

    • Paul says:

      Bomb pop uniforms – minus 10.

      • Bubba says:

        I suspect that we’re stuck with them. But remember, folks hated the Where’s Waldo jersey when it first came out, but now it’s an iconic sight at USMNT games (admittedly, some folks still do hate them). Still, I honestly can’t see these new uniforms catching on.

        • Paul says:

          I was at a Sports Authority between games of a weekend youth tournament and asked an employee if they were selling. She said only a couple since they’ve been out.

        • Diego's Maradoughnuts says:

          Bubba- Atta boy. Shirt’s gonna look a whole lot better when one of our boys scores a monster, iconic golazo in it. There’s a reason you still see USMNT fans walking around in those gnarly light blue ’94 shirts. The legend makes shirt, not the other way around.

          Paul- Thank you for “raising” this issue. I will have Brad Davis bring you a nice popsicle tomorrow and maybe we can get you turned around. Always another seat on the ice cream truck when you’re ready.

  2. Matt says:

    Player grades and MOTM dont agree. Brad Davis at a 7? Are you kidding me? His refusal to use his right cost us at least 2 legitimate chances on net

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      MOTM is voted on by staff. Davis had a hand in both goals and could have drawn a penalty. You can feel free to think he didn’t deserve a high grade but we’ll agree to disagree.

      And a random aside for anybody wondering, dropping a “Did you even watch the match” is the best way to get banned from the comments section. That’s a general rule so keep that in mind before you decide you want to play the jerk card in what should be a civil comments section.

    • jordanthesoccer says:

      Last nights performance against AZE was putrid. The run of play was disjointed and ugly throughout. The set pieces were a different story. Yes they are part of the game, but in a WC when has the US ever been a factor with their own set pieces? Almost never. On the highest level we are just not there yet and we will not be until we have our own Ronaldo/Messi on the ball or in the air (Ronaldo).

      Unfortunately with this year’s team Klinsy is very high on including a mix of athletes in his lineup that do not work well together and/or do not have the consistent touch/command of the ball (this is by far and away my biggest issue)
      Specifically J. Jones, T. Chandler, and F. Johnson

      All seem to be a similar player. Big, fast, athletic, none with a great first or final touch all with suspect passing/horrid shooting. Fabian Johnson probably less so than the other 2.

      What strikes me is that they have relied so long on their superior physicality, they have not sharpened their eyes or wits about them when it comes to some of the basic subtleties/necessities of defensive play. I would quite like to see a lineup where Chandler and Johnson are our starting flank banks. BUT if they are in, then Jones MUST ride the pine. the fact is that the 3 of them should NEVER be on the field at the same time.

      Beckerman has a much better command/presence defensively than Jones. His link up play with the other mids and Bradley is simply superior. If we have Chandler/Jones/Johnson on the field at the same time COUNT on 2-3 extra opportunities on goal AGAINST the USA. We will not make it out of the group and the play will be sloppy. (note I did not include Yedlin as his speed is so incredibly superior). Beckerman is a step slower than Jones, but is a defensive upgrade. He just stays a little further back.

      Offensively, this team is just better with Donovan in it/available. Unlike Davis. He has ability with both legs, and although not a dribbler the caliber of Dempsey/Diskerud, he is faster than Mix, has a feel for the run of play that Wondo does, but a stronger finisher (when the opportunity is there). Hopefully Julian Green will be able to make up for that some. Whether you are for him or not, it really would have been great for all of us to see Terrance Boyd and Landon get a shot in these pre-cup qualifiers.

      Legs can be heavy, sure, but that product last night was next to g-d awful. Honestly, that US team in ’98 would have beaten last nights version, the ’94 team would have tied them.

      We all want the best team on the field. We all want the US to give us some memories and make a run again this year. Who doesn’t want to cheer our boys on? But lets get the best product on the field, playing together, and playing smart. A smart team can play great for an extended period of time, while great teams don’t always play smart. That’s the truth, and it’s why anything is possible on the field.

      • The Garrincha says:

        JordanTheSoccerooo, A good read thank you.
        Interesting take on FJ/JJ/TC.
        I do not entirely disagree, however perhaps we do see there more than anywhere else, the clash or differentiation of styles(bundesliga/mls etc), and subsequent growing pains of meshing into a totally cohesive unit.
        Lets not forget MB, had two fairly productive seasons with Monchengladbach. I think the cohesiveness will come.
        Beckerman, is an insurance policy they may or may not have to cash in?.
        Regarding classic models, considering the skill level and over all rate and speed of play of this version of the usmnt, It would be interesting to see how they would stack up retroactively with past versions.
        I also agree it would have been good to see Boyd and LD in a friendly or two, if nothing else just to be sure.

        P.S. Portugal is very dangerous on set pieces. They have at least two players a lefty and a right, other than CR7, who can strike with deadly precision to either post off a free kick, there range is no issue for them.

      • Bill says:

        Totally agree on all points.
        Beckerman is so much more consistent than Jones, he doesn’t let up with his intensity. I think Beckerman and Bradley are a much better fit than Jones and Bradley.

        Donovan should be there instead of Davis.
        Even if JK sees LD as a forward, he still can play a wing better than Brad Davis and can also deliver a ball on a set piece.
        LD’s passes on the counter are also usually lethal if he’s hitting a fast forward, plus he’s got the wheels to follow the play and support the counter attack.

    • mack says:

      Although I don’t want to be banned from this site I tend to agree with the poster. Davis would have had a shot on goal while cutting inside if he could use his right foot…and although the service looked good to aj…he was completely unmarked. I thought zusis cross to wondo was the best service of the night but it was to wondo who just hit it straight. Brad davis will be destroyed by our group opponents

      • Paul says:

        Got to admit, Zusi is turning into a decent player, which I would have bet big money against a while back.

      • away goals says:

        These are player games for the azerbaijan game, not projected grades for the group opponents.

        Maybe davis will be useless in brazil, maybe he’ll be the 2014 version of forlan. But all he could do against azerbaijan was perform against azerbaijan.

    • Matador says:

      Davies was the best on the field? Wow…. imagine if he scored or made an assist? 10 !!!

      Let’s get wasted

      • foooo says:

        Um, he did make an assist.

        • Bill says:

          A set piece assist to an unmarked player doesn’t impress me.
          That guy scored a magic ticket somehow…
          He shouldn’t be there.

          I’m not a huge Donovan fan by any means.
          LD has been incredibly inconsistent, but look what he’s done throughout his career in big tournaments.
          LD over Davis every single day of the week.

          Crazy that he’s not going.

          • Josh says:

            Why should it be held against Davis that the marking on the corner was poor? He played a good ball that found Aron in a dangerous spot.

  3. Jack says:

    I didn’t think Davis was any better then Zusi, only difference is Aron put in his chance and Wondo failed on 2 easier chances.

    • kyle says:

      i think this is a pretty good point that is important to keep in mind

      • The Garrincha says:

        Jack, good comment.
        Kyle, nice for recognizing the nuances of the brief comment.
        Patrick, fantastic participation with the up vote,
        well done guys, drinks all around. +10 to Pele’s, three new drinking buddies.

    • patrick says:

      well said. UPVOTE.

  4. BobbyB says:

    Ives buddy. Good call on Wondo and others, but , on the contrary, FJ provided a lot going forward. He took players on successfully and created a number of offensive movements out of nothing.

    Also. Besler never settled. Distribution was terrible. Could be a nightmare in Brazil.

    Last. Ill advised slide tackle in the box by Gonzo could be foreshadowing of his defensive weaknesses.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Besler’s distribution wasn’t up to his usually high standard, but one shaky half doesn’t suddenly make the guy a liability. Johnson did get forward a few times, but I’ve seen him be much better.

      • JJusa says:

        Ives, I agree with you that we’ve seen better from FJ but I also thought he showed more off the dribble than any of the outside midfielders but was possibly not as involved due to defensive duties. Any chance Jurgen puts him back in the midfield or is he set as an outside back due to being the best option on the roster? I’d personally like too see Beasley and Chandler on defense and FJ at LM.

    • Bubba says:

      I agree re: Gonzo. He seems to be a step behind on a lot of close plays. There were two, perhaps three, where things could have been much worse if he were playing against better competition. I worry that he’ll be a bit like the recent version of Gooch – slow, a bit clumsy, and not much to offer in the back.

      Also agree re: FJ. I thought that he was perhaps the most interesting player in the first half, and he and Zusi almost linked up a few times for some nice plays. Have to remember that he’s been playing midfield some for the USMNT lately, so coming out of the back requires a bit more subtlety.

  5. Lava Lamp says:

    A country that has roughly 150 milliion men and those 23 are the best we have?

    • smartestonthepitch says:

      the other 149,999,977 play Football (american), baseball, basketball or even hockey.

    • Bubba says:

      Also, subtract me from that 150 million. I’m too old and slow, probably couldn’t handle a 90 minute game if my life depended on it, and while I have a decent first touch, my creativity with the ball has always been extremely lacking.

    • foooo says:

      Using your logic, India, China, and Indonesia should all be world powers.

    • cpldaniel says:

      Xbox and Playstation costs us tens of millions of potential players from our pool. College and poor financial prospects for most 18-year old players costs us ten of millions more out of our player pool.

  6. stanson says:

    Here are the highlights for Mix: link to youtube.com

  7. EspinDOHla says:

    If Jones would have put in the performance that Bradley did last night, he’d being feeling the wrath of many US Soccer fans today. Just don’t understand people’s issue with Jones.

    • Jack says:

      Many people are pointing out Bradley wasn’t very good.

      • EspinDOHla says:

        Not saying people weren’t pointing out that Bradley didn’t perform well last night. I’m saying that if it were Jones who put in that performance, people would be calling for his head.

        • Kelso says:

          Well, i think early in his career Bradley didn’t get the benefit of the doubt when fans were screaming nepotism. He earned some trust, and for Jones to do the same takes some time.

          • Big Red says:

            That’s because he was unplayable until a quarter of the way through his first season at chievo.

      • dibo says:

        The 4-4-2 not great for Bradley. He is more of a passing/holding mid.
        I get why the 4-4-2 is good for a lot of the players – Bedoya and the strikers especially, and also for the outside backs, but I wonder if Klinsman will try a 4-2-3-1 in one of the friendlies. Altidore up front, Dempsey behind him, Zusi and (yes) Green on the wings, Bradley and Jones in mid, and probably a similar back 4 to tonight maybe w/Chandler starting.

    • JayAre says:

      +1. The whole Beckerman is better rhetoric is such an LOL. At least Jurgen know and understands his worth. Kevin-Prince Boateng would be the happiest man in the world if Beckerman starts against Ghana.

    • Citronomics says:

      My observation is that Jones, while technically sound, able to deliver a threaded ball to split the opponent’s D, goes into challenges… …generally has not demonstrated positional discipline as the primary d-mid to enable MB90 to play a true box-to-box mid like he did v. Mexico. If one agrees, then a question that I and others have considered is should JJ pair w junior in our system of play that relies on a 2 central mid pairing whether diamond 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 (where Deuce is in the hole behind the striker)?

      Last nite, think JJ’s positioning was much improved and it was the starting wingers who strayed to far in the middle forcing MB90 to drop back deep too much. And Bradley had a mediocre game by his USMNT standards for sure.

      So, I like JJ. He’s quality. Just not sure if he’s the best starting d-mid partner for Mikey in our system.

      Fwiw. Cheers

      • Nic D "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

        I have sen people make the Stevie G and Fat Frank comparison about MB90 and JJ. Not sure I quite by it. I think that JJ was actually better than MB90 last night. Bradley did not seem to have the drive to push forward often dropping deeper than Jones and sometimes playing too close to Jones. Maybe the field was squeezing everyone (dimensions?) but the wings did not seem to get much chalk on their boots providing MB90 a space between the lines to operate.

        On the other hand it seemed like Mix was finding the TreQuartista spacing and pushing the attack at the Azeris repeatedly in the 2nd half. Maybe they were tired maybe the zone was not being defended as aggressively. Whatever the case MB did not look the same and was quite vanilla in this game.

        • Citronomics says:

          Agree with your analysis on JJ playing better than MB90 last night and part of that, I submit, was JJ maintaining positional discipline. And yeah, Mikey did drop too deep too often (though not as per usual to cover JJ) because our wings pinched in too much.

      • Twosevenstreet says:

        I’ve started to notice the opposite. It’s actually Bradley that does not maintain proper spacing

    • PD says:

      Or anyone not named Landon Donovan it would seem…

    • absoccer says:

      Jones is a “poser”. He is not “genuine” in his work. Last night on a number of flighted balls he did not move his feet and lost challenges (he is a pro, the wind is not an excuse!). Also after a bad turnover he just sat in the middle of the field and acted like an 8 year old that had his ball taken at practice. Jones is a good player but is not a good “American” player. He is a pre-madonna and acts like he is better than he is. He does not play within himself, he plays like he thinks he is better than he is. Beckerman is honest, just not athletic enough for us to win at the highest levels.

      • PD says:

        Primadonna.

      • The Garrincha says:

        absoccer, that a fair assesment of some of JJ’s former play.
        I think he realizes and the hammer also came down on him to play a little more structured and in complete form as the destroyer.
        As for MB, he is the true bio-organic, free range, chicken Makelele.
        Like you all notice, not so much flair and spice, and as some pointed out if he had scored that goal which became an indirect assist to mix who knows?.
        Like any playoffs, the team is going to have to grind out goals and create imaginative chances.

  8. Marc says:

    Thank you for giving Jones higher marks than Bradley. Much more steady and decisive with the ball.

  9. FrankieHeyDude says:

    Ives, were you at the match last night? I was in the fourth row and Cameron seemed very slow with the ball – taking 2 or 3 touches when 1 or 2 would have been easy enough. Very good defensively. But so slow with the ball.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Of course I was at the match and just didn’t see the “very slow with the ball” thing.

  10. Ali Dia says:

    Pretty sure he watched the game. He was here. Doing live commentary.

    • FrankieHeyDude says:

      Just to note – difference between “did you watch the game” vs. “were you at the match”. Obviously he watched, but just wondering if he was there near the field to get a sense of pace that tv can’t afford. Hope that makes sense. I was just surprised at how slow Cameron was in distribution and I don’t think I would have had that sense were I not field side.

      • Ives Galarcep says:

        I’m in the press box, with a full view of the entire field from a pretty good vantage point, and what I saw from Cameron was precise passing and good pace on his long passes. I think you’re over-selling any potential delays Cameron might have had with the ball. It is a different setup for him now than when he’s at his usual right back for Stoke, but for all this talk of slowness on the ball at what point did he ever get caught in possession? Didn’t see it happen once.

        • FrankieHeyDude says:

          A subtle point that has less to do with getting caught (and how could he really when AZE were not pressing high up the pitch?), and nothing to do with precision or long-balls. Everything to do with pace and how the attack begins/develops. It was a bit of nuance, Ives, one that I was not attempting to “sell” – only discuss. As you point out, this is a new set-up for him, I was inviting you to reflect on that transition – one which, no doubt, will be crucial.

  11. chad says:

    Looks like you get bonus points for playing less minutes….exception Yedlin.

  12. Kyle says:

    We wont get the number of corners and set pieces around the box that we did last night. Love the deliveries by Davis, but still don’t know if he brings enough in the run of play to warrant big time minutes. Someone who does produce in the run of play is Mix. Two lineups I would love to see in the second half of the next couple games. Both maybe a little light on defense to throw out against Ghana but maybe sitting back wont be a good strategy against them. Also both a little light on width, but clogging the middle and making teams try to beat us in the air might be a good strategy.

    Altidore – Johannson
    Dempsey
    Mix Bradley
    Jones
    Beas Bes Cam Johnson
    Howard

    Altidore
    Dempsey Zusi
    Mix
    Bradley Jones
    Beas Bes Cam Johnson

  13. JayAre says:

    These grades are a bit harsh. Howard got a 5 and he kept a clean sheet and didn’t make any mistakes with solid distribution out of the back, that deserves at least a 9. FJ a 5.5 and Cameron a 6.5? I can’t agree with any of these numbers. They are being graded like they were completely out played and they lost the game.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      That’s my mistake, Howard was supposed to have a 6. A NINE? That’s insane. Goalkeepers get nines for monster games where they make a bunch of outrageous saves. Think Howard against Argentina in 08 or Spain in the Confederations Cup. A nine for a match where he had no truly tough saves to make? That’s not really grasping how traditional grading works. 6 is pretty standard.

      • JayAre says:

        Good point. I’d say 7.5 now he did work with a new CB pair, new RB and a LB he hadn’t played with in over a year. The communication and keeping them organized is worth more than a 6.

        • Nic D "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

          I could see a 6.5 but NO HIGHER! His distribution on two of his long throw outlets were superb reaching the halfway line at one point. Even John Champion noticed the excellent outlet (and secretly wished that Howard were English).

          • Paul says:

            Azerbaijan wasn’t attacking. The only time Howard had to work was when one of his defenders gave away the ball, and the striker, not having anyone to pass to, blasted hard shots but from pretty far out.

      • Roy says:

        Maybe Howard should be rated as exceeded expectations, met or did not meet expectations, instead of numbers.

  14. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Besler was horrible. Against a good team, three of his first half turnovers would have resulted in goals. Beasley, who played directly in front of where I was sitting, was chewed up physically. Both grades are at least a whole point too high.

    I’ve been to a dozen US Men’s matches, and this was the flatest I have ever seen them

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Agree to disagree. Besler wasn’t his best, no question, but horrible is a stretch. As for Beasley, chewed up physically? Eh, think that’s a reach as well.

      • Tony in Quakeland says:

        Beasley was not only pushed around, his technique was pretty poor last night a number of which led to unforced turnovers. He was pretty poor last night. Let me ask in all seriousness, were you at the game? I sat about ten rows off the field on his side during the first half and had a pretty good look at him and Besler. Maybe television didn’t capture it fully, but it wasn’t pretty at field level.

        • Citronomics says:

          See above. Ives was in the press box. :-)

          • Tony in Quakeland says:

            Fair enough. I skipped straight to the grades. So I can only speuclate he was behind a pillar :-)

        • Nate says:

          Beasley shut down several one v one attacks, was agressive in breaking up playes, and had some nice combination work with Altidore…I remember his technique letting him down in one instance where he let the ball bounce off him and out of bounds…

          • QuakerOtis says:

            This is true. I was 8 rows behind the corner (had a perfect view of the cross whipping in for the 2nd goal. WOW!), and I also thought Bease did ok. You have to expect that he’ll get muscled around a bit, but his positioning and recovery were fine.

  15. bryan says:

    i think these are pretty much all fair but i think FJ and Bedoya are rated a bit too low.

  16. Jesse says:

    For most part fair assessment Ives. The ones I disagree with you on:
    Besler – as you said shakey in the first half. A couple of defensive failures is all it takes. My grade – 5.
    Bedoya/Zusi – certainly was better than Zusi, yet you gave them the same grade. Bump Bedoya to a 6 and Zusi down to a 5.
    Bradley – had the worst game I ever recall seeing from him in a national shirt. Should have had a couple assists for Azerbaijan. Did a few things offensively as well, but those were Omar like mistakes that just can’t happen. 4.5 or 5 would be appropriate.
    Omar – I thought defensively he looked slow. If the opposing strikers had any pace at all he would have been burned several times. Lucky to not give up a penalty on a reckless slide tackle in the box. My grade 5.
    The attacking subs were mostly good, but maybe a bit overrated.
    Davis played better than expected. He did miss a couple opportunities on his right. Maybe splitting hairs to give him 6.5
    AJ – had the goal, didn’t see a ton more than that. I’d rate him a bit lower. 6.

  17. smartestonthepitch says:

    Jozy higher than Wondo ? No way. US Shots – 14, US Shots on goal 7.
    Jozy shots 1, Shots on goal 0. Not a Jozy hater but he did not look good, he is super cold, I think he drops out and it is Dempsey with Wondo/ICE dude (Kevin Bacon)

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      We can agree to disagree.

      • Citronomics says:

        Think that last nite was definitely a mixed bag for Jozy as you suggest in your grades Ives. Think where I quibble a bit is his hold up play. He did start that attacking sequence to spring MB90 at the end of the 1H but most of his touches with his back to goal were heavy and did not impose himself physically. 2H showed improved assertiveness on the ball (maybe by playing a bit more on the wing), which hope he builds on.

        • Luke says:

          Re-watch the game. Jozy had at least 3 fouls committed against him while holding off defenders and trying to receive the ball. With defenders draped on him all night, maybe why his touches seemed “heavy” to you. On the AJ goal, what very few on here seemed to notice was Jozy, wrestling with his defender in front of the goalie that probably prevented the keeper from coming out and punching it clear.

          I think Ives grade is about right. His hold up skill is very good and his passing off to teammates was good too. The one knock is that as striker, he needs take on defenders with the ball at his feet and create his own chances. 1 half chance on a shot way off goal from about the 18 isn’t going to cut it.

          • Citronomics says:

            Respectfully disagree. Against our 1st round opponents, the defenders Jozy faces will play him even tighter, smarter, nastier… …several balls played into his feet, with his back to goal, just bounced off his first touch. I don’t think Jozy played poorly and tried to offer a balanced assessment. Bottom line for me is that, last nite, his hold up play in the first half – except that great trap and pass to spring Mikey, we’re
            lacking. Cheers

            • Citronomics says:

              *was* lacking

            • Nate says:

              Totally disagree. He saw a lot of touches in the first and second half, and rarely turned the ball over. Nearly every time the ball was played to him, he got fouled, or knocked it on to a bomb pop shirt. He actually had a well taken shot inthe second half off a short quick free kick that was blocked. Well struck. he set up Davis inside the box for a great look on goal had Davis decided to use his right foot , and flicked on for Wondo in the first half for what should have been a hand ball in the box. The turn off the Bradley pass in the second half was a positive decision, just off in the execution. I actually think he deserved a 6 or 6.5 because he was so active in terms of holding up the ball and linking the play. Way more active than he was against ukraine.

      • smartestonthepitch says:

        Results. Jozy had 90 mins to make something happen. All of the others had half the time and produced more results. When your cold you are cold. Can we afford to wait until he turns it back on when we have others available that are hot and producing something positive and dangerous.

        • Nate says:

          By “all of the others” you mean AJ’s unmarked header?

          • sam says:

            Hater, just cuz jozy can’t score. Maybe he needs to learn from AJ & Wondo how to get a free header.

          • Sir Coble says:

            I am in agreeance with Nate on this one. I thought Jozy played a great game doing what a target striker does well. I do want to point out unlike most target forwards Jozy does not go up well in the box for headers and it infuriates me! Some people have a knack for losing defenders and finding space in the box for a header. (Dempsey and Wondo) Some work extremely hard for their space and attack the ball no matter what ( Mcbride). I’m afriad Altidore does neither. Other than that facet of his game I thought he played extremely well last night, and like how others have stated his movement from outside to in looked to break the shackles of his Sunderland movements.

        • GW says:

          You do not understand the role of a big forward in the modern game.

          Jozy does a great deal of heavylifting. He did that in the last World Cup as well when he and Clint were tied for most beat up US players.

          • sam says:

            Get over jozy. If ur starting forward can’t score, go home. He’s had no competition in the last 3years and jurgen hasn’t done anything about it. No other player has got the starting job with his performance in the last year.

      • Original Aaron says:

        Ha. Love the understatement Ives. I don’t see Altidore being dropped from the lineup except in case of injury. Without him, we’d be playing a false 9, and I just don’t think we are tactically adept enough to play a false nine system. However, had smartestonthepitch stuck with the shots statistics and left out the hyperbole at the end, he had the start of a good point. You have to be concerned that with many less minutes on the pitch, Wondo put more shots on goal than Altidore. By no means am I saying that Wondo is a more talented player than Altidore, but at the moment, he’s hitting the target with a lot more regularity. He forced saves on two close-range headers, albeit with terrible marking unlikely to be seen during the world cup, but when you are hitting the target and forcing saves, goals will come. Altidore only put 1 shot on target over 90 minutes against Azerbaijan… and that is definitely concerning. 2 more games to get out of the rut and get clicking, but anyone saying the current situation isn’t at all concerning is being awfully cavalier.

  18. I agree with most of Ives’ ratings, but my full ratings you can see here

  19. ernesto says:

    i thought yedlin did pretty darn well for himself. maybe the most solid i’ve seen him play for usmnt. though, i think it would only merit a 5 instead of a 4.5. nice breakdown, maybe a little high on davis.

    • Bubba says:

      How many observations do we have for Yedlin playing for the senior team? Three? Not talking about a real basis for comparison here.

      As for his performance, I thought that he looked pretty nervy anytime he had the ball. Didn’t seem to have a good sense for what he wanted to do with it except for getting rid of it. Willing to grant him a pass, given his lack of experience, but it’s not clear that we want to be granting passes heading into the WC.

  20. Kar says:

    Interesting – while Beasley didn’t get forward as often, I thought he was more consistent in the quality he created on those runs. Also remember a few times chandler needed cover at his position where Beas seemed to (almost?) always be in the right spot.

    Not going to disagree with Beas and Chandler getting the same ranking, just not sure i saw Chandler as more impressive.

    • Nate says:

      Agreed. Beasley completed more passes once forward. Impressed with Chandler’s aggression;, he just didnt look as sharp as he could be.

      • GW says:

        There is a reason for that.

      • Jesse D says:

        I really liked what Chandler showed. He forced defenders into tough situations. That type of aggression is missing from other wing players.

        He didn’t always complete the pass retain possession, but he looked dangerous. Certainly more so than Beasley.

        I’m a huge Beas fan, own a Beasley jersey, still think Chandler at this point in his career is more dangerous than Beasley.

    • Jeff says:

      Agree. Thought Beasley was connecting well with the forwards and had more take aways. Chandler had the advantage of looking fresher than some of his opponents so that may have impressed some.

  21. smartestonthepitch says:

    I think Chandler and Johnson scores should swap. I was encouraged watching Johnson. He is in at left back. First part of the half was good. Chandler and Davis looked like they were tripping over each other. Not much memorable about Chandler.

  22. KGB says:

    No true issues with the grades, although I think that MB’s 5.5 was kind.

    While JJ played a solid match, he struggles when he’s drawn out of position in counter attacks and makes wreckless challenges. Azerbananas didn’t have the ability to counter and therefore couldn’t expose that weakness.

  23. Nic D "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

    Yo Ives,

    I think you are being a wee bit harsh on Yedlin. A 4.5, did you even … LOL

    I think he deserved no less than a 5.0 and as high as a 5.5
    He did get upfield (and out of position) a time or two BUT he also recovered each time tracking back and shutting down the play. The one time he did not, OG covered well and tackled to safety. Also he got forward and Davis found him knifing in from the right causing the defense to play a dangerous header out of bounds for the corner.

    I would also bump FabKo a half too. He dribbled successfully out of the back and caused a minor threat to the LM and LB of Azerbaijan a few times.

    I totally agree with Davis who looked a danger on the left, dribbling well a few times and crossing a dangerous ball in more than a few times. Gonna watch the game again tonight after church and reassess my grades.

    • Nic D "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

      ALSO … Davis was clearly the MOtM. How did you guys get Mix? “Did you even watch …”

      ;-)

      ND

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      I almost gave him a 5, but he didn’t play much and just looked unsettled for me.

  24. Luke says:

    What was up with Bradley taking the free kick on the Davis “penalty” that was spotted just out side the box on the left. Isn’t the express purpose of having Davis on the roster and in the lineup for his “golden” left foot? Was it just me of did it seem like their was some confusion as to who was going to take the kick. Maybe due to Donovan not being on the team, Dempsey being scratched and Zusi being subbed off.

  25. gangof4 says:

    I thought JJ was all over the field – yes he obviously got tired towards the end of the game when his passing and possession got a little sloppy – but he definitely put in a shift. Personally thought MB had a pretty bad game – that back pass that (I think) OG bailed him out of was completely uncharacteristic – and, to be honest, his body language seemed like he was really “uninterested” for most of the game!!

    If Besler makes those kind of mistakes against any of the teams in Brazil we’re doomed although, to be fair, he did settle down as the game progressed. Personally thought that both Chandler and Yedlin had decent games – as good as or maybe slightly better than the two starters but still trying to figure out why you put a guy who plays left back for Hoffenheim on the right and the guy who plays right back for Nurenburg on the left!!

    Never really been a big fan of Zusi, I think more than anything he lacks pace for the international game, but I guess he was okay. Ultimately would probably prefer someone else to start at right midfield.

  26. Scott e Dio93 says:

    Finally! A more realistic rating of players!

  27. BC says:

    Good ratings Ives. I would also call out an important observation when assessing performances from last night… it is difficult to play “fast” from the back when 11 people are behind the edge of their own center arc.

    In fact, I might be willing to give the players praise for having the patience to not plunge forward into the mob of 11. You know each of these guys were chomping at the bit to make a mark, yet often they showed the restraint to not play an ill advised ball into the mob of blue.

    Better indicators in the next 2 matches.

  28. kyle says:

    I felt like Bedoya didn’t really get involved very much. Also Wondo should of finished both of those chances. If you get a wide open look in the WC you have to finish it.

  29. Bac says:

    Ives,
    Chandler has always looked much more comfortable on the right, and Fabian has played comfortably on the left..
    Are we to assume going forward Fabian will stay on the right because he’s our best outside back and that’s the side he’ll be needed the most?

  30. Vasco says:

    What is everyone excited about. We all know that with this expensive European coach we have we will dominate this tournament.

    USA 4 Germany 2
    USA 3 Portugal 2
    USA 1 Ghana 0

    USA 3 Brasil 2 in the finals

    Sunil and Jurgen know what they are doing

  31. petro4ever says:

    Thoughts from last night:

    1. I think we can more or less retire talk of Jones’ lack of “discipline.” With the exception of a couple of plays here and there, he stayed back and let Bradley get forward. This is consistent with what I’ve pointed out in previous posts: Jones was likely going forward in previous games because Klinsmann instructed him to play that way. Personally, I’m not sure that the “Jones stays back, Bradley goes forward” arrangement is really as great an idea as everyone on here seems to think it is (I actually think that because he and Bradley take different approaches to the game and have different skill-sets, the variety they provide when they switch off keeps our offense from becoming predictable) but given the state of our back line, it’s probably what we’ll see going forward.

    2. The youngsters showed why Klinsmann called them in. Mix was aggressive offensively and scored, AJ took his chance when he got it, and even Yedlin had a couple of good moments (his charging towards the keeper on the play prior to the AJ goal contributed to the forced corner). We may not be able to put these guys all on the field at once, but the sequence of events that included the 2 goals shows why, sometimes, you need young players out there.

    3. Altidore had a decent game overall, but I think sometimes he takes his assignment as a target forward too literally. He had a couple opportunities to turn and go at defenders but every time one came up, he hesitated for a split second. I think part of the reason that Altidore sometimes struggles when played alone up top (and I realize he wasn’t exactly a lone striker last night) is that when given the target striker assignment, he becomes afraid to gamble once in a while and look for his own shot. When he has a partner (or in the case of AZ, plays on a more offensive-minded team), then he relaxes and takes his chances. So if Klinsmann wants goals out of him, he’ll probably need to continue playing him with another player next to him. Hopefully getting Dempsey back will help. Dempsey gives us that scrappiness and unpredictability we need in the final third and I think he’ll rub off on Jozy a little.

    • The Garrincha says:

      well thought analysis there Petro4ever.
      I see about the idea JA takes his target label to seriously.
      He needs to loosen up a bit.
      JA, and AJ, could also have a little AZ magic?. + 10 Pele makes soccer magic!.

      P.S. I take my Saint Ives, and bow down on one knee.
      The Garrincha, would like to thank Earnest “Ernie” Stewart,
      for his all his contributions helping to make the national team, all it can be.
      thank you!…

  32. Mike S says:

    I think these grades are fair. People need to realize that these matches are precautionary. Klinnsman is letting the team gel.

    My take on the match: I’m not sure if the diamond midfield is the answer at this point. I tend to like the 4-2-3-1. I’d like to see Beckerman get some significant minutes before the WC starts. We were missing our most in-form finisher (Dempsey) and we still came out 2-0 against a defensive minded squad. I think our bench is pretty solid.

    I’m hoping we see some improvement against Turkey and Nigeria, specifically more chances created by the midfielders. We need to take the game to Ghana and pressure the hell out of them. Right now, we look too tame.

  33. sam says:

    Altidore did the same thing he has been doing for Sunderland the whole last year. If he doesn’t score at least 1 goal before the world cup, he might as well stay home or USA might as well play with a false 9 (Dempsey) up top. I disagree with the notion that we need to have a physical player who can hold the ball up top, especially when Jozy can’t score. My greatest fear for USA is jurgens inability to make a change in the starting lineup when we clearly need it. When was the last time A.Johansson started next to Dempsey.

    I’m not a jozy hater, but he’s got to do more than hold up the ball. Brad Davis & A.Johannson will be our super subs in Brazil.

  34. gtv says:

    Seven? SEVEN?!? They should give me a 7 for watching that crap last night! (with apologies to Nick Hornby),

  35. Herb says:

    Jozy Watch: 1771 minutes of football without a goal.

    Great hold up play? So what!

  36. David M says:

    If Azerbaijan is as poor as they looked last night, why on earth are we paying their coach to be the team’s special adviser??

  37. Bamford13 says:

    I don’t think the “diamond” works all that well, because neither Zusi nor Bedoya tuck in and play like wide CMs. Both play, instead, like traditional outside mids, in which case we’re playing a 4-4-2 and it is no surprise that we have too little possession, attack and creativity through the center. Bradley is a good player, but he can’t do it all himself through the center, especially if he drops deep to receive the ball. Would be better, I think, to play with three CMs: Bradley and Jones as the two holding mids and Diskerud — who is class — as the CAM. This would allow Bradley or Jones to join Mix in attacks through the center. As it is, only one CM can attack. I’d go with the following:

    ________________Howard
    Cameron____Gonzo____Besler_____Johnson
    ___________Bradley______Jones
    ________________Diskerud
    Zusi______________Altidore________Dempsey

    Much more dynamic, much more dangerous. Still very solid defensively, because you can count on Bradley and Jones to be responsible ball-winners and holders at the WC.

    • Murray Braun says:

      Bamford 13: Slow-pokes Dempsey and Zusi on the wings with a slower RB, Cameron, will not work vs Ghana, Portugal and Germany.
      Cameron is the RCB, Besler the LCB. Chandler and Fabian are RB and LB respectively.
      Bedoya is a lock at RM. LM is a real problem, neither Davis or Green being starters.
      Donovan wouldn’t have worked at LM.

  38. Louis Z says:

    Besler 6? Ives is too kind.

  39. Cal says:

    Johansson’s goal was more about terrible defense and Gonzalez getting in the keeper’s way than anything else.

  40. Chris says:

    Howard-Untested really, controlled his box nicely
    Besler-Poor first half with some awful giveaways, rebounded in the second half
    Cameron-Very nice distribution out of the back, surprised he came out
    Beasley-Eh he was okay, first touch let him down often
    Johnson-Very nice game getting forward, would like him on the left however
    Jones-Really broke up the game in the middle, exactly what his job should be
    Bradley-Worst game hes had in awhile, even saying that was good in possession, just struggled going forward, i dont really like playing him as a 10, hes better working deeper
    Bedoya-always a high work rate with him
    Zusi-Again eh, good set pieces, didnt add much else
    Wondo-Poor showing, really should have scored with one of his two great chances, also should have looked for the pass across on his one on one from an angle
    Altidore-Very nice game, held up play so well, however he needs to do more in the goal area
    Gonzo-I actually thought he was pretty good this one
    Chandler-Struggled at first but much better going forward as the half went on
    Yedlin-Same as chandler, also really poor in possession, looked afraid to make a mistake, but boy oh boy is he quick
    Davis-Pretty nice little game, had some great set pieces and contributed through the run of play
    Diskerud-Great touch like always, good to see him score
    Iceman-Took his chance well, didn’t add too much else
    The crowd-Pretty empty stadium but it seemed like a pretty good atmosphere in there for the occassion

    All in all it was an alright showing, i wouldnt say this friendly was pointless like some, it was just a game to get the group together and get their legs under them before facing tougher competition

    My 11 vs Turkey

    —————-Altidore——————-
    Davis————Dempsey———–Bedoya–
    ———Jones———Bradley————-
    F. Johnson–Besler—Gonzalez—-Cameron—
    —————Howard———————-