As an American soccer fan, I am distraught by the 2-2 draw between the US and Portugal. But as a general spectator, the US played one of the best matches I’ve ever seen them play. For the first time in quite a while, I can say with confidence that the team outplayed a quality European side for more than half of the match. This was also in the absence of injured striker Jozy Altidore.
It will take a day or so to get the sting of the result out of players and fans’ minds, but the USMNT have set themselves up to advance, possibly still winning the group. According to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com, the USA have a 76% chance of advancing to the knockout round after their draw Sunday night.
Here are my performance grades for the USMNT against Portugal:
(GK) Tim Howard- 7: He dropped to the ground too early on the first goal, but was completely left hung out to dry. He rebounded very well, making some incredible saves, including on Eder right before halftime to keep the US in it. Howard commands the box in a disciplined manner and always seems to be in the correct spot.
(RB) Fabian Johnson- 8: Arguably the best player on the pitch for the second straight match. Johnson was able to display his skills going forward and he looked to have a goal in him. His runs were very difficult for the Portugese to defend, especially after the introduction of DeAndre Yedlin. He defended very well when playing against Ronaldo.
(CB) Geoff Cameron- 5: Was the source of conceding both goals. The second wasn’t completely his fault, but still, Cameron needs to watch the tape and realize his mistakes. The first goal could have been easily prevented by simply letting the ball his foot, as opposed to swinging at the cross. He did play very well between when both goals were scored, but his errors cost the US a great deal.
(CB) Matt Besler- 7: The Sporting Kansas City center back played an incredible match. He protected the box strongly, winning most challenges. It was scary seeing him go down, holding his hamstring again, but he was able to finish the game strong.
(LB) DeMarcus Beasley- 7: He was able to get forward and make some good attacking runs. Defending against Ronaldo and Nani was good for the most part, but it was easy to see their pace gave him fits in the last twenty minutes or so.
(CDM) Kyle Beckerman- 6: Controlled the midfield very well in front of the center backs. Made his physical presence known and got the ball off of his feet quickly.
(CDM) Jermaine Jones- 8: I stated earlier that Johnson was arguably the best one of the field, but Jones gets the award on the night. He scored one of the goals of the tournament on a scorching effort from quite some ways out. That was his first World Cup goal, mind you.
(LM) Graham Zusi- 7: Set pieces are always his biggest threat and although it was deflected out to Jones on the first goal, it was still a vital cross. Zusi’s little cross into Dempsey also led to the second goal. He attacked very well and did a good job defending when necessary.
(RM) Alejandro Bedoya- 5: Still don’t know why Klinsmann chose him to start. He didn’t offer very much on the right wing. He defended decently, but after his substitution, the right side looked much more dangerous.
(CAM) Michael Bradley- 5: His second straight shaky game. He can’t have a third in a row, right? His distribution was much better and didn’t give it away as much. Bradley should’ve opened the scoring for the US though on a point blank shot that was blocked off of the goal line. Then, it was his giveaway in the midfield that led to Portugal’s equalizer in the 95th minute. He just needs to boot the ball away, out of play if necessary, in that situation.
(ST) Clint Dempsey- 7: The American captain did it again. It took a touch off of his stomach, but a goal is a goal. He filled in excellently for Altidore. Even made some runs over the top of the defense and held the ball up nicely when he could. Didn’t appear to be bothered too badly by the broken nose.
DeAndre Yedlin- 7: That was some World Cup debut. For only playing about 20 minutes, Yedlin made an amazing impact. Creating the goal that gave the US the lead was strictly off of his pace. He gives the Americans something special on the wing and I would really like to see more next match against the Germans. The duo of Johnson and himself is a deadly combo.
Chris Wondolowski- 6: Short appearance for Wondo at the near end, mostly to see the game out. He did a wonderful job at the beginning of stoppage time, holding the ball up in the corner. Knew exactly what his role was in the situation.
Omar Gonzalez- NR: Only played during second half stoppage time, but his sole purpose was to win headers. Why was he so far up the field on the last goal? With his size, he should’ve been planted between Besler and Cameron, or even as a sweeper to see the game out.