The compliment to my “Out of Miracles” piece, and a painful reminder of the U.S. exit as it stands to be my final player ratings piece of a competitive (non-friendly) match until next summer’s Gold Cup, which again becomes a point-of-emphasis for the U.S., as victory ensures qualification for the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil.
Tim Howard, 5—His distribution was excellent again and led to a couple of counterattacking chances for the U.S. as they dominated the second half. Was off his line a yard and a half on the Boateng goal. That said, I’m not sure he stops it on his line—the finish was clinical. Parried away a Gyan free kick that would have made it 2-nil.
Steve Cherundolo, 5.5—Really neutered offensively by Dede Ayew, whose pace gave him fits. He was a bit more effective in the second half and made good choices with the ball—this was due mostly to Feilhaber settling the American attack. Took a yellow early that one wonders why Bocanegra didn’t take in a similar situation before the game-winner. One of the best four Americans in this tournament.
Jay DeMerit, 4.5—First half was dreadful and he didn’t close out on Boateng in time, instead backpedalling for ten yards before engaging a hair too late. Made a couple of nice tackles to stop Ghana counters in the second, then was caught sleeping inexcusably with the American captain on the winning goal. All in all, a wobbly night.
Carlos Bocanegra, 5—Calmer and more composed on the ball then DeMerit, he actually helped the Yanks build from the back after Feilhaber entered and enabled them to do so by providing a safe and reliable outlet on the left. His choice over Onyewu in the American center looked excellent as he won every aerial battle he had and his marking was sound, until he got lost on the long ball to Gyan that resulted in the game winning goal. Had time, upon my review, to commit a foul outside of the box, and his excuse, that he already had yellow, is no excuse. Better give up the free kick and get sent off than lose.
Jon Bornstein, 6—A strong performance and better as the game went on. Opted to give up a bit of extra space rather than getting turned and wisely relied on his pace to close it quickly. His link-up passing was much better in this game too, but he was still too long on his crosses, which is a shame given how effective he was getting forward in the second half. If the U.S. had won, Bradley would have offset his Clark mistake by going with Bornstein again.
Landon Donovan, 5.5—His finish on the penalty kick was clutch and class, kissing the ball off the inside of the right post. Beyond that, he was irrelevant for the first thirty minutes and troubled with help defense by Ayew. He probably needed to drift inside and find the game earlier than he did. His set pieces were excellent throughout the tournament and this game was no different.
Ricardo Clark, 2.5—His substitution in the 31st says it all. His indecision and nonchalant attitude on the ball set up Boateng’s steal and goal, and are inexcusable. It’s great that he took the blame but his head needed to be in the game. To make matters worse, he as emotionally fragile and reverted to Redcardo moments later, fortunate to not be sent off on a nasty challenge after the opening goal.
MB 90, 6—Made several crunching but safe tackles in the second half that led to American chances. He seemed to tire in extra time, which was surprising because we aren’t ever used to him being tired. Made good passes with the ball and was careful with them too, a good combination. His play with Feilhaber controlled the game in the second-half and they were a bit unfortunate not to win in full time. Probably could have taken one more touch on his left-footed shot in the 76th minute, or tried to steady himself, rather than fire timidly.
Clint Dempsey, 7.5—The best player on the field. He was a terror once he was moved up top and Ghana had to adjust tactically. Ironically, this is why Ayew was deep enough to play his prayer route one ball that led to the game winner—Jonathan Mensah was overwhelmed by the Texan and the penalty he earned was a just reward. Set Findley up with an exquisite pass in the 35th that should have resulted in a goal, and was the only American with any ideas in attack for the first 30 minutes.
Robbie Findley, 3.5- His runs were either early and ill-timed or too indecisive and too late. Didn’t win a single fifty-fifty, which would have helped Altidore immensely. Made one nice run on the right, but closed it dreadfully when his finish on Dempsey’s brilliant ball was MLS comedy hour. Not suitable at this level. End of discussion.
Jozy Altidore, 5—All the hard work and good movement was outdone by a poor first touch (we hadn’t seen that in this tournament) or poor finishing (we saw that plenty this tournament). Looked twenty years old with loads of class throughout the tournament. Effort in the 13th minute was terribly poor. Effort late was a shame for two reasons: first, it was one of the only times he ran by someone all evening—second, he lost his balance and with the keeper beaten, missed a foot wide. Was exhausted and subbed at the full time whistle.
Maurice Edu, 6—Steadied the American defense again and was better on the ball than he was against Algeria. Helped neutralize Boateng after his introduction. Link up work with MB 90 was good, work with Feilhaber and MB 90 even better. Had so much energy and won fifty-fifty balls so often you were left baffled he didn’t start. Bright future for the Glasgow Rangers man.
Benny Feilaber, 7—Dynamic. Chance in the 47th denied marvelously by Kingson and pass moments later deserved better. Pass to Dempsey set up the penalty kick and with options it was the right ball. The Americans dominated for thirty solid minutes upon his entry and his choices about when to move to the center and when to stay wide kept the U.S. unpredictable. Seemed to wither after the Black Stars took the lead—but that had as much to do with Ghana’s bus being parked as it did with Feilhaber. Will play a prominent role in qualifying and 2014.
Herculez Gomez, 4—I like that he’s an effort guy on defense and he tracked back a great deal when Ghana did press forward on the counter in the first period of extra time as the Americans hurled bodies forward. Problem was—he’s not as effective on this level when the Yanks are behind—he’s not a great route one option even with his size—and the Americans needed him to be late.
Neil W. Blackmon is a senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at email@example.com.