June 20, 2010

Report Card Time!

Rather than give a play-by-play recap, here's what I've seen from the USA's key players in the first two matches. Could I be too harsh? Definitely. Could I be too lenient? Oh yeah.

Tim Howard: B+
Overall: The first game, he came up with some BRILLIANT saves. Some shots, especially the first goal he gave up, just can't be saved. But I think he's doing a fantastic job so far.
Changes: He needs to play the ball better upfield. After he saves it, he can't keep booting it to the opposing keeper. A great save is the perfect start to a counter attack, something the USA needs to do more.

Oguchi Onyewu: D
Overall: He looks like he hasn't play in a long time. Because he hasn't. He is constantly a step behind, non-vocal, and just plain bad. Believe me, I love the guy. I WISH he was doing amazing. But he needed more time to recover, and 2 of the 3 goals the USA has given up were partially (mostly) his fault.
Changes: I would love to see "Gooch" (ha!) do more on set pieces. He's had a few chances, but his 6'5 216lb body has been completely absent on the score sheet. He also needs to communicate a LOT better. I get it, your knee is bothering you a bit. If you think you're fit enough to play, you need to step up. Can't get there? Lose your man? YELL. LET SOMEONE KNOW. Thanks.

Michael Bradley: C+
Overall: I like what I saw in the second half of both games, but it needs to take more than 45 minutes and the half to get going. His brilliance tied the game against Slovenia, and continued attacks could help push the Eagles through to the Round of 16 and beyond.
Changes: More aggression! When he gets going, he does well. Case in point: His goal. I was blow away by the charge he showed to chase that ball down. Now do the same on defense. Step up, pass, and run like hell.

Landon Donavon: A-
Overall: A few questionable touches here and there, but the USA's best (ever) player has lead charges, scored goals, and even shouted instructions that have helped the American side come back twice.
Changes: I would like to see him get back better. He's done a wonderful job on the attacking end, and if Findley or Altidore were slightly more composed he could have 3-4 goals. But the defense is in dire need (especially if the USA advances to the Round of 16) of a strong leader in back.

Jozy Altidore: C-
Overall: I feel like I'm being a bit harsh, but I know I've seen better play from the same Jozy. The kid is exactly 3 weeks older than I am, and he's one of the top players on the USA Men's National Team. But right now he's playing like just another Joe-Schmoe.
Changes: More aggression! (If I were alive when records were popular, I would be a broken one right now.) He seems timid on the ball, and a few times has seemed lost. I understand, it's a BIG deal to be the star forward for a side in the World Cup, but come on. It's still just a game. Let's go.

Robbie Findley: F
Overall: I'm sure he's a great kid, but he should not have started the second game. Constantly he showed poor composure, horrible decision-making, and no aggression.
Changes: Well, he won't be changing anything in the group stages, as he drew a (PHANTOM) yellow against Slovenia to remove him from the Algeria game. If he does see the pitch again at this World Cup, he really needs to be smarter on the ball. I hate to be so harsh on the guy, but he could've cost the USA multiple goals.

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