Philly Sports Live

USMNT vs Russia Player Notes

The US draw with Russia Wednesday morning was marked by a great diversity of performance.  Check out our thoughts on the job the Yanks did, and feel free to contribute your own in the comments section.

Tim Howard is rapidly depleting American ‘bloggers supply of superlatives.  A rock between the pipes as ever, a sequence of tough saves in the second half kept the US in the match, but nearly gave a penalty to the Russians with a late tackle on on Dzyuba.

Fabian Johnson was uncharacteristically quiet on at left back, with early miscommunications among the holding midfielders compelling him to stay back on the defensive.  He did get forward a few times in the second half.

Carlos Bocanegra had one of the more forgettable of his more than 100 matches in stars and stripes.  He was burned on the first Russian goal, and was subbed off injured in the 15th minute.  Substitute Clarence Goodson was directly responsible for the second Russian goal, and combined with his poor league form may have played himself out of the immediate national team picture.  Interestingly, Klinsmann mentioned that had the Los Angeles Galaxy not advanced in the MLS playoffs, Omar Gonzalez was to be named to the roster instead of Goodson.

Geoff Cameron continued the solid play that has marked his rapid rise from Camp Strudel invitee to starting right centerback.  He singlehandedly broke up several Russian attacks, including a sliding tackle to prevent an open net shot in the 73rd minute.  Cameron was subbed off for Mix Diskerud who scored the eventual game-winner, in the 87th minute, and replaced at centerback by Maurice Edu.  While the biggest questions surrounding the USMNT next year will concern the backline, Cameron appears to have locked his spot up for the foreseeable future.

Timmy Chandler appeared to not miss a beat despite not suiting up for the US in almost a year.   He managed to get forward several times, interchanging well with both US wingers, and had displayed his considerable speed tracking down a mortar shot from Jermaine Jones, going almost the full length of the field while the ball was still in the air, and launching a dangerous one touch cross into the box.  Steve Cherundolo remains the first choice right back, but expect Chandler to push the Mayor for time over the next year.

Danny Williams continues his Jekyll and Hyde performances for the national team.  Expected to have locked down the 6 after his strong play against Guatemala and Jamaica, he seemed to be playing on another world, one in which soccer was once played long ago, and was lost to the sands of time.   His poor restart in the 9th minute led directly to the first Russian goal, and he seemed uncertain of his positioning throughout the match.  Part of this may simply be the formation Klinsmann deployed, as Williams and Jermaine Jones kept trying to occupy the same space in the field.   Williams was subbed off for Maurice Edu in the 73rd minute.

Jermaine Jones started off poorly, but showed his maturity and experience when, with the US reeling in the face of sustained Russian attack, he retained possession, slowed the pace of play and allowed the Americans to regain the initiative.  Though unnoticed by most observers, this may have been Jones’ finest moment with the USMNT.

Michael Bradley is the best player in the US pool.  His play in both ends of the field was immaculate, and his half volley goal was the turning point of the match.  This team will go precisely as far as MB90 can take them.  **MAN OF THE MATCH**

Hercules Gomez gave his usual tremendous effort, but playing out on the wing, he lacked the speed to create his own shot, and the Russian defense forced midfield service into the middle of the pitch.  His deadball service was not up to its usual standard, as he overshot the goal frame on a dangerous freekick, and failed to clear the first defender on several corners.  Herc was subbed out for Sacha Kjlestan and his fabulous mustache in the 65th minute.

Jozy Altidore came back from his qualifier snub with a solid if unspectacular game, playing the holdup striker role well and setting up Michael Bradley’s goal.  Altidore continues to score in buckets for AZ Alkmaar, and that form will eventually carry over to the Nats.  Despite the ever-increasing depth in the US strikeforce, Jozy remains a vital piece of a successful US side.  Jozy was subbed out for Terrence Boyd in the 86th minute.

Josh Gatt got the start on the wing in his first US match, and did not disappoint.  The man from Molde was the focal point of early US attacks, as Klinsmann seemed to be feeling out just what he had in the fleet footed attacker.  Switching sides several times with Hercules Gomez, he was able to make several attacking runs deep into Russian territory, but seemed unsure with the ball at his feet in close quarters.  Confidence in those situations may well come with time.  One amusing element of the broadcast was the constant mispronunciation of Gatt’s name by the ESPN announcers, who had been instructed to call him “Gott,” as in Thor, rather than “Gatt,” as in a rapper’s gun.  Ian Darke and Taylor Twellman, calling the game, apologized to Gatt at halftime.  Gatt was subbed out for Juan Agudelo in the 63rd minute.

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