BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, August 11, 2011
The US national team's well earned 1-1 draw with Mexico was the first glimpse into new head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's view of the American talent pool.
Some players had poor performances but others rose to the occasion and made a good first impression under their new coach.
Here is how I saw the game:
Tim Howard - 5.0
Despite a first half which saw Mexico dominate possession, Howard was not called upon make many saves. In fact, Mexico was only credited with one shot on goal the whole game and that was on their goal. There was little Howard could do on the goal but his decision making was generally good throughout.
Edgar Castillo - 4.5
Castillo looked nervous in his first ever start for the US national team. In the first half he turned the ball over on a number of occasions and was caught out of position a number of times. The left back position is still unsettled with Aston Villa's Eric Lichaj as the likely front runner. Castillo improved in the second half against Mexico and he will get future callups but he will need to be better if he is going to try to emerge as a potential starter.
Michael Orozco - 5.5
It's been a while since Orozco was with the US national team and the young central defender returned to the city where he played last year in MLS. His return was successful in that he played well in a game when the US was looking to prove it could contain a Mexican offense that ran wild on the Americans just two months ago.
Carlos Bocanegra - 7.0 (Man of The Match)
In a time when there were many questions surrounding the national team, Bocanegra provided stability to a team that was playing with many new faces. The US national team captain's performance was his best since the 2010 World Cup. He worked well with Orozco and he stifled many Mexican attacks into the final third.
Steve Cherundolo - 6.5
Cherundolo's performance against Mexico was impressive and it's a solid indication that the right back is aging very well. With Nurnberg's Timothy Chandler likely to challenge him in the coming months, Cherundolo made a statement that he's not ready to give up his hold on the position just yet. On Wednesday night, Mexico was rarely able to get anything going offensive side down Cherudolo's side of the field. Also, Cherundolo hit several good crosses and his distribution remains one of the best on the team.
Kyle Beckerman - 6.5
Beckerman's inclusion into the starting lineup was the most surprising pick by Klinsmann but Beckerman put in a fine performance to reward his new coach. Beckerman's job was to play just in front of the American backline to breakup Mexican attacks and it he succeeded in doing that. His distribution improved significantly in the second half but his importance was most felt defensively. Mexico created far fewer scoring opportunities than usual and Beckerman was a major reason for that. Beckerman's role with the team will be tough to maintain when Stuart Holden returns but he put in a solid performance and will get more callups in the future. Klinsmann after the game said Beckerman's effort was "exceptional."
Michael Bradley - 4.5
It was a tough game for Bradley who was responsible defensively for Mexico's goal and who was unable to help the team move forward offensively. It wasn't entirely a bad effort. There were a number of times he was able to hustle and cover for Castillo who was caught out of position a few times but it was not the best effort for Bradley. His biggest challenge right now is finding a club where he can regain the progress he was making a year ago.
Jermaine Jones - 5.0
Jones' performance against Mexico for the US team was rather mixed. On the defensive side he was very good and played deep. Like Bradley, he struggled to advance the ball forward or help the team maintain possession. Jones is an established professional and he will likely get better when he is in midseason but with the return of Holden and Edu along with Bradley and Beckerman, Jones' status as an automatic starter is not guaranteed.
Jose Francisco Torres - 6.5
Torres made a strong return to the national team after being away from the team for more than a year. His play particularly improved in the second half when he moved out of the left and into central midfield. He was very effective at holding the ball and combined well with Landon Donovan on counter attacks. He was never really able to fit in under Bob Bradley's system but he may find an increased role for the team under Jurgen Klinsmann.
Landon Donovan - 7.0
When the US team picked up the game in the second half, Donovan's leadership was really evident. With so many inexperienced faces in the midfield, Donovan was a rock and the team seemed to feed off his energy. He was an important part of four clear scoring opportunities within in the last 30 minutes of the game. After a Gold Cup that had more downs than ups, Donovan looked like himself again.
Edson Buddle - 5.0
Buddle was a difficult player to rate because he worked very hard in the first half but was not able to see much of the ball. Early in the game, the US team was struggling to gain possession inside Mexico's half of the field. Still, Buddle hustled for every long ball and tried to win back possession for the US team. When Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey return to the team, Buddle will struggle for minutes.
Brek Shea - 7.5
When Brek Shea came on for Jermaine Jones in the 60th minute, the game changed clearly in favor of the Americans. He constantly took Mexican defenders on and made a terrific play on Rogers' goal. He also continued to press forward and create several chances. His standout play in MLS this year appears as if it will transfer into the international arena as well.
Robbie Rogers - 7.0
Rogers was only on the field for 18 minutes against Mexico but he proved to be very difficult for the Mexicans to defend. Not only with the goal, but he also was part of a scoring opportunity that should have seen Gerardo Torrado earn a red card. His energy on the field was clearly evident and the team fed off it. Rogers has been suffering from having the image as a player who has failed to live up to potential. Still just 24 years old, he could be the type of player that thrives under Klinsmann.
Juan Agudelo - 6.5
Agudelo came on for Buddle in the 60th minute and made a positive impact on the game for the US team. He's just 18 and has had experienced some growing pains in recent months but he was a threat to the Mexican defense. Sometimes he held the ball a bit too long but for the most part, he was dangerous and very active.
Ricardo Clark - NR
Clark came on for Torres in the 84th minute but did not play enough to earn a grade.