For only the second time in World Cup qualifying play the U.S. men’s national team took away a point from Azteca Stadium. While the result is about as good as anyone could have hoped for, the performance left a lot to be desired from the Americans. The U.S. only managed one shot — coming off a set piece of course — and they gave up two good looks to the best player in the hexagonal, Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez. While Hernandez wasn’t able to finish either of the chances, nine times out of ten he’ll bury both of them and outlets such as ESPN would be screaming that the U.S. is in full crisis mode.
There were a few bright spots, Omar Gonzales and Matt Besler proved to be an adequate pairing, and Michael Bradley continued to solidify himself as a viable top-notch starter at the international level. But other than that, the Americans really didn’t prove anything other than they could ride their good luck to a contested away point. Jozy Altidore continues to struggle at the international level, Clint Dempsey proved completely ineffective and positionally suspect and Demarcus Beasley and Herculez Gomez are still allowed near soccer fields. The Americans’ success had a lot more to do with Mexico being terrible than the Americans doing anything truly spectacular. But on the player ratings, the ratings are out of ten, with ten being the best and one being Beasley.
GK: Brad Guzan, 6
Despite pitching a shut out, Guzan really didn’t have to do much in this one. He came off his line well in the first half after a pretty chip, but out of Mexico’s 17 shots, Guzan only had 3 saves. That stat highlights how poor Mexico really was in this game. Hernandez missed to clear-cut chances and Giovani Dos Santos continued to show how frustrating a player he can be. The saves that Guzan made during the last five minutes were probably the highlight of his night, but neither looked to require much effort on his part. Both shots were to the near post, and if you ask any top-level keeper, barring a ridiculous shot a ‘keeper should never be beaten at his near post. Solid shift by Guzan, though.
RB: Geoff Cameron, 4
Cameron was repeatedly caught out of position and Zusi was often forced into covering for Cameron when Andres Guardado slipped by him on the flank. Cameron offers little to nothing going forward, as he isn’t much of a crosser and he doesn’t have the pace to move up and down the line. Cameron’s natural position is center back and the only reason why he wasn’t played there was both first-choice right backs were out due to injury.
CB: Omar Gonzales, 9
It’s amazing what happens when you give young players a chance to succeed. Gonzales has been wasting away on the U.S. bench behind the mediocre Carlos Bocanegra for a couple of years now and was finally given his chance to shine. Shine he did, as he was the best American on the field and arguably the best player on the field for either team. Shutting out Hernandez is no easy task, but Gonzales proved to be effective against the smaller, quicker Mexican forwards — something he has struggled with since coming back from his ACL injury. Gonzales was dominant in the air and stepped out and made key tackles when he needed to. This kid is a potential star, and barring injury I could see him moving over to Europe within the next year.
CB: Matt Besler, 8
Besler proved himself after being a last-minute inclusion into the starting lineup. While Gonzales is more of an out-an-out ball winner, Besler excels at reading the game and breaking up attacks via interceptions. Several times in the second half Hernandez attempted a diagonal run behind Besler, only for Besler to step up and intercept the pass. Solid in the air, the only complaint I have for both Besler and Gonzales was their distribution out of the back was a little shaky. But for the first game in the Azteca, I’ll take a shut out.
LB: Demarcus Beasley, 1
I’m not even going to waste time typing about Beasley’s performance. Constantly out of position, terrible distribution, terrible first touch, non-existent tackling and terrible crossing. That’s Beasley’s game.
LM: Herculez Gomez, 2
The only reason Gomez doesn’t get a 1 is because he was forced into defending most of the game because Beasley was so poor. His “speciality” is set-pieces but he only delivered one corner which was adequate — the U.S. got it’s one shot for the game on that set piece. Offered nothing in the attack, even though Mexico’s weakest position on the field was RB. Shouldn’t be on the field for an international team anywhere.
CDM: Maurice Edu, 4
Decent performance by Edu. He wasn’t awful, but he wasn’t good either. He should have been called for a foul in the box, which would have led to a Mexican penalty but got away with a clear foul. Got off a decent shot after one of the American’s successful moves, but was called offside. He isn’t an international CDM, he’s more suited for deputizing at center back or right back.
CDM: Michael Bradley, 6.
The most effective American that wasn’t playing center back, but that isn’t really saying much. Bradley showed a lot of composure on the ball, and distributed well when given the chance to go forward. Was on the end-product of the best American chance of the night after receiving a pass from Altidor, but his touch was a bit heavy and he couldn’t get a shot off. He’s quickly becoming the best American player though, and his continued improvement is a great sign going into the World Cup in 2014.
RW: Graham Zusi, 4
Zusi put in yet another anonymous shift for the U.S. Did he do anything bad? No, but he didn’t influence the game in any positive way. His crossing is suspect and he didn’t have the pace to threaten the Mexicans vertically. I think Zusi would be better suited playing in the middle where Dempsey played where he could use some of his creativity and long range shooting to challenge teams defensively. His skill-set just isn’t suited for playing winger at the international level.
CAM, Clint Dempsey, 3
Blah, Dempsey did all of his normal Dempsey things, but he didn’t score to justify his lazy off-ball work and questionable positional sense. The one time Dempsey got himself in a good position he kicked off the move that saw Bradley break down the middle and almost get a shot off. He’s better suited at striker with something who has great movement, or on the left side of midfield where he can drift in and create goal scoring opportunities. When Fabian Johnson is healthy I could see the two of them creating chaos down the left with Dempsey pulling the defense inside and Johnson getting up and down the line to provide width for the attack.
ST, Jozy Altidore, 3
To be fair to Altidore, he had nothing in the way of support or quality service to help him out. But this wasn’t a memorable performance from Altidore, his movement was iffy and you could tell he was getting frustrated by his lack of support. It doesn’t help that Klinsmen and Altidore just don;t get along and to me, it doesn’t look like Altidore enjoys playing under the American boss.
ST: Eddie Johnson, 2
No hold up play, nothing in the way of creative movement off the ball and absolutely zero impact on the game other than just running around with no purpose
LW, Brad Davis, 2
I honestly can’t remember one thing Davis added to the game. But he isn’t Demarcus Beasley, so he gets a 2.
LW, Brek Shea, N/A
Who else forgot that Brek Shea existed? He didn’t have enough time to employ any of his usual shenanigans to the game and I don’t even know if he actually touched the ball. His hair looked magnificent, though.
Tags: Brazil, Brek Shea, Clint Dempsey, Demarcus Beasley, Eddie Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Graham Zusi, Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler, Maurice Edu, Mexico, Michael Bradley, Omar Gonzales, USMNT, World Cup 2014