Grading the United States Players Against Mexico

Peter BrownellContributor IMarch 27, 2013

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MARCH 26: Players of US national soccer team pose for photos during a match between Mexico and US as part of FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier at The Azteca stadium on March 26, 2013 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/Getty Images)
Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

Mission accomplished for Jurgen Klinsmann and the United States national team. 

It does not get much sweeter than tying Mexico in Azteca stadium.  The precious road point they earned does not get much more critical in terms of qualification, either. 

The story of the match is clearly the young MLS-based center back pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler.  Watching these two shut down passing lanes, clear dangerous balls and flawlessly distribute indicated professionalism and an ability to lead this group into the future. 

Mexico will rue not being able to crack the synced U.S. defense.  Despite having a vast territorial advantage in the second half, El Tri simply struggled with their final pass for the most part.

A brilliant result from a pragmatic performance by the U.S. team, one in which many players deserve credit for their efforts.

Here are the player grades:


Starting 11:

Brad Guzan (9): Guzan played his role to perfection in this match.  His timing on crosses and long balls into the box was pristine and his communication was direct and encouraging.  He came up with a big diving save at the end of the match and might make his coach consider him for a start even when Tim Howard returns.  He was that good.   

Geoff Cameron (7):  Cameron was solid the entire evening and performed his right-back duties admirably and effectively.  Confident and safe with his possession and dependable when called on to clear with his head or feet, the Stoke City man made very few mistakes.  He was solid in one-on-one defending, too.

Omar Gonzalez (9.5): Man of the Match stuff from Gonzalez who seemed to be in the right spot at the right time just about every time there was danger afloat.  Gonzalez affirmed his aerial timing and dominance on corners and crosses and showed other impressive wrinkles in his game: his ability to intercept through balls and his positional and anticipatory awareness.   

Matt Besler (9): For Besler to play as well as he did is a bit of a surprise based on his form as of late.  No bother, the Sporting Kansas City left-footed center back was as collected as it gets stationed in the heart of the U.S defense.  Like Gonzalez, Besler did just about everything asked of him and rarely misplaced a pass defensively.  This was a very mature performance.

DaMarcus Beasley (6):  Beasley was a point of interest for Mexico, as they continually attacked down the right side of the pitch.  And, overall, the seasoned American did a formidable job considering he received an early yellow card.  A little scary when isolated in one-on-one situations, but, overall, DaMarcus Beasley got the job done. 

Graham Zusi (7.5): An excellent addition to the midfield possession game, Zusi was crafty on both sides of the ball.  He was smart and rarely gave the ball away during passing sequences in midfield.  And he tracked back vigorously on a few occasions to make game-changing defensive plays. 

Michael Bradley (7): Forever running, forever working, Bradley covered his usual ridiculous amount of ground here.  And, like always, he was a pivotal release point for the back four to look to when trying to play out of the defensive third.  He made a nice run forward, too, in the first half after some combination play.  This was another vintage Bradley performance. 

Maurice Edu (6): Nice and tidy in terms of possession in the first half.  He was arguably the best defensive midfielder during those 45 minutes, as well.  Edu closed space well and was solid in the tackle.  He loses points given some sloppy deep passing early in the second half that could have cost the U.S. team the draw.   Additionally, he should have been called for a penalty for barreling over a Mexican attacker late in the match.

Herculez Gomez (6.5): A quiet game for Gomez on the offensive side of the ball.  He is not to be blamed for this, though, as the U.S. team focused heavily on the center of the pitch.  He worked back whenever needed and made sure to get forward when the opportunity presented itself.  No real mistakes, either.     

Clint Dempsey (7): Dropped deep as a withdrawn striker in the first half and served as a nice catalyst for the rhythmic ball movement the U.S. was able to orchestrate for a good majority of those 45 minutes.  Tired, to be expected, a bit in the second half but still did his fair share of defending.  Captain Clint?  This definitely has a nice ring to it.

Jozy Altidore (6.5): Altidore may not have got as many touches as he would have preferred, but his back-to-goal play was proficient.  No real blame to place for his lack of danger because, frankly, the U.S. team was not looking to commit many numbers into the attack.



Eddie Johnson (6.5): Similar to Jozy in that he did not receive much service—his job was to do more of the dirty work.  He was safe when called upon and made a nice run on the flank that could have created some danger if his service was a bit better.

Brad Davis (5): A few shaky touches from the Houston Dynamo man and a late free kick conceded unnecessarily dock Davis some points here.  Not much else to speak of—he worked and moved the ball mostly well when it came his way.

Brek Shea (N/A): Not enough action to fairly grade the young American.