The United States Men’s National Team tied Russia 2-2 on Wednesday morning, coming back twice from deficits to earn the draw.
The U.S.’ goals came via a fantastic strike by Michael Bradley and a stoppage-time equalizer from Mix Diskerud.
The team the U.S. fielded was a good mix of the U.S.’ more established talent and some up-and-coming youngsters, allowing for head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and USMNT fans to get a good look at some potential new roster inclusions as the team enters the final round of World Cup qualifying after the New Year.
Here are the player ratings.
Without Tim Howard in the game, the U.S. surely would have given up three, four or maybe even five goals.
On the first goal against, Howard was left out to dry as a poor giveaway by U.S. holding midfielder Danny Williams left the defense completely exposed.
The second goal against was on a penalty called against U.S. center back Clarence Goodson and, to make matters worse, Howard was actually making the save as Goodson committed the foul.
In the 49th minute, Howard made a very good push on a long-distance effort by Russia and Howard came up huge on two consecutive plays in the 66th minute to keep the U.S. in the game.
In the 89th minute, with the U.S. down and seemingly out, Howard made a great foot save, keeping the deficit at one goal. If Howard had not come up with that save, Mix Diskerud’s 93rd-minute equalizer would have meant nothing.
Howard wasn’t without fault in the game, however.
In the 53rd minute, Howard may have clipped a Russian attacker in on a breakaway with his trail leg. However, the referee ruled the play as a dive (it did look like one, even if Howard did clip him) and the Russian was cautioned.
Grade – 7.5
Fabian Johnson had perhaps his worst night ever in a USMNT jersey.
Usually one of the most consistent players on the pitch, especially in possession, Johnson had bad giveaway after bad giveaway (five poor giveaways by my count) and got beat multiple times defensively.
Johnson was also slow to recover on Russia’s first goal.
Johnson’s lone bright spot in the match was a strong attacking run up the middle of the pitch in the 70th minute. And, while he found Jozy Altidore with his pass, Johnson hit the ball with too much pace and at about shin height, and Altidore was unable to control it.
Grade – 3.5
Cameron’s performance against Russia was very up-and-down.
He had a number of bright spots, including a couple of good recoveries to cover for beaten teammates. Cameron also provided some good service going forward.
However, Cameron also had more than his fair share of mistakes, including a number of bad giveaways in the defensive third, one of which could have easily resulted in a Russian goal.
Cameron also had a couple of poor clearances, and again, one that resulted in a good opportunity for Russia.
Grade – 4.5
Goodson had what can only be described as a shocker on Wednesday.
He repeatedly coughed up possession in dangerous places, got caught out of position more than once and got beat on the dribble.
To make matters worse, he lost his mark on Russian dead ball late in the second half, and after getting beat fouled the Russian attacker and was called for the penalty, which the Russians converted to take a late lead.
In the 35th minute, Goodson played a suicidal backpass to Geoff Cameron when Cameron was the last man back and closely marked by a Russian forward. Cameron somehow managed to knock the ball away and save the U.S. from Goodson’s mistake.
In the 86th minute, Jurgen Klinsmann inexplicably opted to remove Cameron rather than the shaky and already cautioned Goodson when the U.S. went three in the back to try to find a late goal.
Grade – 2
Regardless of what many USMNT fans think of Chandler’s recent lack of commitment towards the U.S., Chandler had a tidy, if quiet, night.
While he certainly wasn’t explosive up the flank, he did get forward a few times to deliver nice service into the box and his defensive effort overall was very strong.
Chandler’s recovery speed helped the U.S. out of a couple of jams and his positioning was much better than the rest of the U.S. defense.
Grade – 6
Danny Williams, like Fabian Johnson, is normally a very solid player for the U.S. But, also like Johnson, Williams had a very poor game on Wednesday.
Williams was responsible for the first goal against the U.S. as his poor pass less than 10 minutes into the match gifted possession to the Russians, who immediately broke in on the U.S. and scored.
Williams did not get much better for the rest of the match, continuing to give away possession on a number of occasions and creating some dangerous chances for Russia with his poor clearances.
Grade – 3
While Bradley did not enjoy the brightest start to the match, remaining largely invisible for long stretches in the first half, his effort picked up considerably in the second half.
Bradley, as has become his forte, repeatedly found his teammates on long, perfectly textured long passes in dangerous positions.
As the game dragged on, Bradley’s attacking runs became stronger and stronger and his strike for the U.S.’ opening goal was simply world-class.
Bradley also set up the U.S.’ equalizer in extra time with a long service into the box.
Grade – 8
Jones’ displays for the USMNT continue to be enigmatic.
At various points in Wednesday’s game, Jones made hard attacking runs, connected some great 1-2 combinations and provided good service to his teammates.
At other times, he couldn’t get on the end of simple passes, was lazy in his defensive effort, took a terrible free-kick service and blasted his chances well over the net.
Grade – 5
Joshua Gatt finally made his long anticipated USMNT debut.
After an understandably shaky first five minutes, Gatt settled down into a nice rhythm in Wednesday’s game.
He had a number of nice 1-2 combinations with his teammates and showed great hustle.
He could have done better to go at defenders on a number of occasions when he had them isolated in wide positions, but was likely hesitant to lose possession in his national team debut.
Overall, he had a solid, though unspectacular, performance.
Grade – 6
Gomez was the U.S.’ invisible man on Wednesday, not popping up into the game in any memorable way either good or bad.
Part of this was no doubt due to his being deployed out wide. Gomez also gets a little bit of a pass because his effort is normally spectacular. He was also the only starter to be traveling from the Western Hemisphere for the game and jet lag no doubt was a contributing factor.
Still, he played 65 minutes and barely impacted the match.
Grade – 4
Right now, Jozy Altidore seems to be a man with a split personality.
A tour de force with AZ Alkmaar this season, Altidore can’t stop scoring goals and doing so often in spectacular fashion.
However, with the USMNT, Altidore looks a shadow of his former self.
The one positive aspect from Altidore’s play on Wednesday was that his effort, something that has been severely criticized by many fans and even Klinsmann, looked good.
Altidore held the ball up well as the lone central striker, but still looked desperate to have a partner up high to play off of.
He made a fantastic run in the 80th minute and delivered a perfect pass to Jermaine Jones eight yards out from net, but Jones blazed the shot over the goal.
Altidore had one decent chance of his own in the 70th minute when Fabian Johnson put Altidore in behind the Russian defense, but the pass was struck hard and at shin height and Altidore was unable to control it.
Grade – 4.5
Agudelo, who has not been with the USMNT in quite a while, entered the game as a 63rd-minute substitute.
He didn’t involve himself much in the game, but did have one of the most substantive contributions, knocking the ball down to Michael Bradley for the U.S.’ opening goal.
Grade – 5
Carlos Bocanegra only played 16 minutes before picking up an injury and being withdrawn. He had one nice recovery run to cover for a Geoff Cameron giveaway, but then immediately gave the ball right back to Russia.
There was little Bocanegra could have done on Russia’s first goal.
Grade - 5
Kljestan entered the game for Herculez Gomez in the 65th minute, switching the U.S. from the 4-1-2-3 it had been playing to a 4-1-3-2.
Kljestan did nothing spectacular, nor anything horrible.
He kept possession very simple, yet tidy and had one nice headed knockdown for Michael Bradley that Bradley then headed over the crossbar.
Grade - 5
Edu replaced the struggling Danny Williams in the 73rd minute, which may have been one of Jurgen Klinsmann’s smartest decisions on the night.
Despite getting virtually no playing time this season for his club, Stoke City, Edu settled the defense down.
Edu also started the play that resulted in the U.S.’ first goal, serving the original ball into Juan Agudelo that Agudelo knocked down for Bradley.
Grade - 5
Both Mix Diskerud and Terrence Boyd entered the game in the 86th minute with the U.S. behind and desperate for the equalizer.
Both were also involved on the game-tying goal, making one wonder why they weren’t involved earlier in the match.
On virtually the last play of the game, Michael Bradley heaved a long pass into the Russian box. Boyd did enough to prevent the Russians from getting a clean clearance and Diskerud smashed a shot that deflected off a Russian defender and into the net.
But, because they both only played seven minutes, a full grade is impossible.
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