Ranking the USA Players on Their World Cup Group-Stage Form
Now that the United States men's national team has completed its first goal, which is get out of the so-called Group of Death, another task awaits them in the form of Belgium.
Before we begin to dissect every single player who will play against Belgium and how they match up against their opponent, we will take one final look back at Group G.
Here is a ranking of all 23 players on the roster based on their performances in Natal, Manaus and Recife.
*Player stats via WhoScored.com
23-19: The Guys Who Didn't Play
23. Brad Guzan
22. Nick Rimando
21. Timmy Chandler
20. Julian Green
19. Mix Diskerud
Five players on the 23-man roster did not get a chance to play in the first three games in Brazil, and only two of the five have legitimate shots of featuring in the knockout round.
Timmy Chandler and Mix Diskerud could be substitutes at some point, but Julian Green, Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando won't see the pitch unless an injury occurs.
18. Chris Wondolowski
Against Portugal, Chris Wondolowski entered the match not to score, but to hold up possession.
He did a decent job of that after replacing Clint Dempsey in the 87th minute, but hopefully we'll see him play a bigger role as the tournament progresses.
17. Brad Davis
Brad Davis was handed an opportunity to impress against Germany with a surprise start on the left wing in place of Alejandro Bedoya.
Instead of showing Jurgen Klinsmann why he is worth another appearance, Davis made just 21 touches in 59 minutes.
16. Aron Johannsson
Aron Johannsson was on the pitch for five more minutes than Davis and Wondolowski combined, but he was ineffective during his 67 minutes against Ghana.
With Ghana in search of an equalizer, the Yanks could not get a grip on the possession battle, which cost Johannsson a chance to show he could be a valuable replacement for Jozy Altidore.
Despite playing more minutes than the usual starting forward, Johannsson was unable to replicate the physicality of Altidore, which is one of the reasons why he hasn't seen the pitch since.
15. Jozy Altidore
Before we think about the future, let's go back to a happier place in the past, where a healthy Jozy Altidore was leading the line and showing us what a physical presence he could be against Ghana.
Now let's dive back into reality, where Altidore is stuck in street clothes on the sidelines because of a hamstring injury.
Hopefully he'll get to play one more match in Brazil, but it may take a few American wins for that to happen.
If he does return, Altidore will be able to wear down the Belgian defense with his hold-up play, which is something he had started to do against Ghana before pulling up lame because of the hamstring injury.
14. Alejandro Bedoya
If you still appreciate the good Alejandro Bedoya does on the pitch, you might want to look away now.
Bedoya has been awful on the right wing in three games for the Yanks, with his best moment coming in the dying embers of the Germany match when his shot was blocked by Philipp Lahm.
He was also thought to bring a defensive work rate to the side to partner his offensive bursts down the wing, but neither of the two qualities have been recognizable in Brazil so far.
13. Graham Zusi
With he-who-shall-not-be-brought-up-in-any-roster-discussion out of the picture, Graham Zusi was supposed to provide a punch on the left wing.
Instead, Zusi has been inefficient on all but one of his set pieces, albeit the one does stand out because it led to the John Brooks goal against Ghana.
He did also provide an assist on Dempsey's goal in the Portugal match, but other than that, he has been quiet.
If Zusi continues to play like he has, the Yanks will be leaving Brazil with seven other teams after the round of 16.
12. John Brooks
John Brooks has not appeared for the Yanks since his heroics against Ghana, which is perfectly fine given his contribution to the American cause.
If Brooks had not nodded home the game-winning goal in the first game, we may not be talking about a round-of-16 match with Belgium right now.
If the Yanks had only received a point from the Ghana game, and then went on to draw and lose in the next two games, they would not be in the knockout round.
Because of that, Brooks' goal takes on a bigger significance despite his small amount of playing time.
11. DeAndre Yedlin
Over the last two games, DeAndre Yedlin has showed why Klinsmann put him on the roster despite his little international experience.
The Seattle Sounders right-back has come off the bench against Portugal and Germany to inject pace into a side that was in need of that attribute.
His main contribution came against Portugal, when he sent the initial cross into the box before Dempsey finished off the second goal.
With two bright showings in Manaus and Recife, Yedlin should get a third run-out as a sub in Salvador against Belgium.
10. Michael Bradley
If you told any American fan two weeks ago that Michael Bradley would be awful in Brazil, they would have laughed at you and called you crazy.
Bradley has played five bad halves of soccer, and one good one, which came in the first half against Portugal.
Luckily for the Americans, the first half against Portugal did see Bradley link up well with Dempsey, which is something neither winger has done for a long stretch of time in Brazil.
Many people thought that the showing in the first 45 minutes in Manaus would turn things around for the star midfielder, but that hasn't been the case—which means four more days of articles about the Belgium game being the one where Bradley gets it together.
9. Omar Gonzalez
Not many people expected to see Omar Gonzalez start at center-back against Germany, but he did, and he delivered a strong performance that made a few people question whether Geoff Cameron will be back in the starting-11 anytime soon.
Gonzalez, who went through the injury bug with the L.A. Galaxy before the World Cup, was inconsistent in his last few appearance for the Yanks, which opened the door for Cameron. Yet after Thursday, it looks like Gonzalez has won back his starting job alongside Besler.
8. Geoff Cameron
Geoff Cameron has had a really good game and really bad game in Brazil.
Against Ghana, Cameron shut down Asamoah Gyan, who scored in his two other Group G games, and held his threat level to a minimum all night long in Natal.
In the Portugal match, Cameron committed a brutal error to allow Nani to score in the fifth minute, and depending on whom you ask, he was at fault for not marking Silvestre Varela on the second goal as well.
Outside of the two mistakes against Portugal, Cameron had a good game, but those errors cost him a starting role against Germany.
7. Fabian Johnson
Fabian Johnson has not done many wrong things for the United States over the course of 270 minutes.
Johnson's biggest mark on any Group G game came against Portugal when he was able to run all over Andre Almeida on the right flank during the first half.
Despite his strong showing in the first half at the Arena Amazonia, Johnson was shut down when Miguel Veloso shifted over to left-back in place of Almeida in the second half.
On the defensive side of the ball, Johnson has been very reliable, and he has not made many mistakes, although some may place blame on him for the second Portugal goal.
If he can move forward a bit more, he could become an even bigger part of the American success in Brazil.
6. Clint Dempsey
This may be a harsh ranking to put Dempsey this low, but based on his performance in the lone forward role against Germany, he deserves it.
The scorer of two of the four goals in Brazil for the Yanks was not able to transfer a solid outing against Portugal into one against the winners of Group G.
In the lone forward role, Dempsey was expected to challenge the physical German center-backs with cutting runs and good ball movement, but that was not the case in the 1-0 defeat.
Part of that has to do with the bad service from the midfield, and part of it has to deal with the absence of Altidore. Yet whatever reason you use, Dempsey is not the player he should be when he is up front by himself.
5. DaMarcus Beasley
The biggest surprise for the United States in Brazil has to be the play of DaMarcus Beasley.
Most thought that the veteran of three previous World Cups would be torn apart by opposing attacks, but he has held his own at left-back, although his start against Ghana did leave more than a few fans worried about his pace.
Not only has he defended well, but Beasley has also shown some bursts of speed down the wing, which is something few expected at the start of the tournament.
By recovering well, and even showing life in attack, Beasley has exceeded the expectations that were placed on him before the tournament, while Johnson has done what was expected of him from the start in Brazil.
4. Matt Besler
Matt Besler did have a few shaky moments during the send-off series on home soil, but ever since he landed in Brazil, he has done a superb job at the back.
The Sporting Kansas City captain was nothing short of stellar against Portugal, and he was once again dominant versus a German side that could only put one goal past the Yanks.
If he continues his strong play at the back and the Yanks find a spark on offense, this team could go a long way in the knockout phase.
3. Kyle Beckerman
Kyle Beckerman is currently in the form of his life, which is a terrific thing for a United States team that needed some edge in the midfield with Bradley moving forward.
Beckerman has been able to shut down plenty of opposing attacks in the midfield and on the wing with his terrific tackling ability.
The stats may say that Beckerman has two tackles and 2.7 interceptions per game, but it seems like he has much more that because he has been all over the pitch in search of turning defense into offense.
2. Tim Howard
Without Tim Howard diving all over the place in front of the American goal, his team may have already booked a flight back to the United States.
That is how valuable Howard has been in net during the course of the three games in Group G.
Howard has made 12 saves, five against both Germany and Portugal, to help hand his team a massive opportunity in the knockout round.
1. Jermaine Jones
Jermaine Jones has been a total revelation in the midfield for the United States over the course of the last two weeks.
Jones' stellar play alongside Beckerman has shredded his reputation as a yellow-card hoarder who makes plenty of mistakes.
As if his defensive play was not good enough, Jones has also brought a charge to the American attack, especially on his 64th-minute equalizer that brought the Yanks back into the Portugal game.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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