The United States men’s national team beat Germany on Sunday afternoon in Washington, D.C. in a wild international friendly that finished 4-3.
As always, some individuals took advantage of the game to raise their stock within the U.S.’ player pool, while others didn’t do themselves any favors.
Here are the ratings.
Despite giving up three goals, it could have been much worse for the U.S. if not for the efforts of Tim Howard.
He came out to pressure Mertesacker on an early chance which Mertesacker put wide, punched away an open chance from the Germans in the 32nd minute and at least three times in the match showed off his athleticism by outjumping everyone to snatch or punch away crosses into the U.S. area.
Howard also had a big save in the 68th minute as absolutely no one from the U.S. defense stepped up, which left Julian Draxler wide open for a chance.
Howard also had a big grab in the 92nd minute to kill off the game.
The only criticism of Howard’s play could be on Germany’s third goal. Though his defense left him out to dry, the initial chance was not hit that well, and Howard could have perhaps caught the shot rather than parrying it back into traffic where the Germans put home the rebound.
DaMarcus Beasley is quickly becoming the Comeback Player of the Year for U.S. soccer in 2013.
Although he is certainly not a traditional defender, his work rate and pace help him make up for his lack of one-on-one defending. One particular example came on a sequence in the 42nd minute when Beasley was beaten twice on the play, but both times he recovered back in front of the German attacker because of his superior quickness.
Beasley got wrestled to the ground on the early chance from Mertesacker, but it should have been called a foul. Beasley also protected the back post well with a number of good headers on German services, including pressuring Miroslav Klose on a chance in the 55th minute.
As usual, Beasley got forward well and pestered the German flank on a number of occasions.
His worst moment of the game came in the 19th minute when he fell down while trying to defend Andre Schurrle.
Beasley came off in the 56th minute.
It was not a match to remember from Matt Besler. Despite Germany’s low pressure when the U.S. had the ball, Besler still got himself into trouble on a number of occasions and was poor defensively.
In the 19th minute, Schurrle made Besler look like a training cone, and Besler’s poor clearance in the 32nd minute resulted in a dangerous chance for the Germans.
Besler also got wrong footed on Germany’s third goal. If he was not off-balance, he could have easily knocked away the initial shot, but as it happened, the shot got through, and Howard could only knock the ball away. The Germans pounced on the rebound and scored.
For the second game in a row, Omar Gonzalez struggled. He gave the Germans their first chance of the day when he stepped in the 10th minute, trying to catch Klose offsides, despite the fact that Gonzalez could clearly tell his outside backs were going to keep Klose onside.
Gonzalez also lost Heiko Westermann on Germany’s opening goal on a corner kick and was very slow to pressure Max Kruse on Germany’s second goal in the 79th minute.
Gonzalez is still young internationally, but he needs to step up his game if the U.S. is going to compete with the better teams in the world.
One of the most pleasant surprises on Sunday was the play of Brad Evans. After a solid second half against Canada in the January friendly at right-back, Evans was given another chance at the position by Klinsmann against Germany.
Despite normally playing as a midfielder for his club, Evans did well again at right-back, snuffing out chance after chance. He did not back down from Lukas Podolski, played well in his one-on-one defensive duties, found some great service forward in the first half and made several important last-ditch tackles and clearances.
It was a quiet day for Fabian Johnson, who made his much-anticipated return to the U.S. midfield. He had one good chance that he scuffed wide, but it was nothing like the attacking play the U.S. saw in Johnson’s last appearance in the U.S. midfield, where Johnson pulled the strings and helped the U.S. score three goals against Slovenia in 2011.
Johnson came off at halftime with what was reported by the ESPN broadcasters as a hamstring pull.
It was a fairly muted performance from the U.S. maestro, who still completed 51 of his 54 passes.
However, missing was the typical flair that Bradley brings to the U.S. While he was tidy in possession and worked back for the ball as the deep-lying playmaker for the U.S., he struggled to get forward.
Defensively, on more than a few occasions, Bradley and his partner in the center of the midfield, Jermaine Jones, left too much space between themselves and the U.S. center-backs. That left the inexperienced back line exposed on more than a few occasions.
Bradley was also caught ball-watching on the early cross that Mertesacker missed.
Jermaine Jones may have had his best performance ever for the U.S. on Sunday—and very little of it will show up on any stat sheet.
Jones provided both the initial and secondary pressure which helped create the second goal for the U.S.—although it must be admitted that it was an absolute howler from the German keeper, who could have just smashed the ball upfield.
Although it will be forgotten, it was also Jones who found Jozy Altidore in behind the German defense for the goal in the 60th minute with a beautiful 40-yard pass.
Jones also created several attacks for the U.S. with some penetrating runs up the field and some slick passing out of the back. He narrowly missed scoring a goal himself with a great effort in the 89th minute that was parried away by the German keeper.
As mentioned in the Bradley slide, there were a few times Jones and Bradley left too much space in behind the U.S. midfield in front of the U.S. center-backs. One of the detriments of a two-defensive-midfielder system is the tendency for both center midfielders to go forward, leaving a gap between the lines.
Jones was also slow, along with Gonzalez, to close down Kruse on Germany’s second goal.
Finally, Jones did provide some game smarts late in the match, slowing down a German counterattack with a well-timed foul.
Graham Zusi has done enough to prove he is a capable player for the national team, but the U.S. would still benefit from a more dynamic player on the wing. In total, Zusi only connected 13 of his 20 passes—although it must be noted that his services into the box are fairly low-percentage attempts.
Zusi’s service on Altidore’s opener was superb, and Zusi also had a number of good combinations on the wing, as well as his usual excellent work rate defensively.
He came off in the 56th minute.
It must be said that Clint Dempsey played one of his most brilliant games for the USMNT on Sunday.
He picked up the “hockey assist” on Altidore’s opener, cut off one of the passing lanes to help set up the U.S.’ second goal, scored the third goal on a very nice half-volley and created the team's fourth goal out of absolutely nothing with a great individual effort.
God help the U.S. if he ever gets hurt.
While everyone will be talking about Jozy’s spectacular goal—and it was quite beautiful—what will go largely unnoticed were the little things Altidore did on Sunday.
On his opening goal, Altidore got the play started, working back for the ball and laying it off to Jones. Jones passed the ball to Dempsey, who found Graham Zusi for the service, and Altidore was there for the full-volleyed effort into the back of the German net—just the type of start to the game the U.S. desperately needed.
On the U.S.’ second goal, Altidore was cutting off one of the easy options for the Germans to work out of the back, and Jones’ pressure forced the German keeper into a terrible howler.
Shortly thereafter, Altidore again used some great holdup play to generate a U.S. chance. In the 20th minute, Jones found Altidore near the top of the 18. Altidore spun in traffic and put Dempsey in for a great chance, which was parried away by the German keeper.
On the U.S.’ third goal, Altidore did some nice work in the corner to find enough space to feather in a service for Dempsey, which he put away.
Heading into three important World Cup qualifiers, it was nice to see Altidore finally get his groove back.
It was a completely forgettable performance for Brad Davis, who entered the match at halftime. Davis made little contribution to the match other than one nice corner kick in the 89th minute.
He may be great for the Houston Dynamo, but Sunday’s performance confirmed what most U.S. fans already knew—Davis is not an international-quality player.
In his first big chance for the USMNT in 10 months, Edgar Castillo had a nightmare performance.
Despite playing very well for Tijuana over the past year, Castillo was very poor on Sunday. He wasn’t involved much in the game, and when he was, it was not promising. He was beat over and over again one-on-one, including on the German’s third goal. Perhaps he was tired from his 90-minute performance midweek in the Copa Libertadores against Atletico Mineiro, but it was not a confidence-inspiring performance from Castillo.
Eddie Johnson came into the match with 35 minutes to play in a situation that seemed custom made for him. With a game-time temperature near 90 degrees, and the Germans pushing for the comeback, Johnson should have been able to use his freshness off the bench and his pace to punish the Germans on the counterattack.
However, that did not happen.
Even defensively, Johnson struggled, falling down in the 86th minute while defending, which allowed the Germans to run in on the U.S. net late in the game with the match on the line.
Although he was a late substitute and did not have much of a chance to impact the game, Terrence Boyd was brought in to help kill off the game, and he did not do that. On multiple occasions in the last 10 minutes, Boyd did not hold the ball up when the U.S. was trying to kill off the match and desperately needed to keep possession.
Boyd is still waiting for his big chance to show what he can do with the U.S., but with Altidore and Dempsey playing the way they did, that chance is probably still far off.
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