Player Ratings: U.S. Men’s National Team 2-2 Portugal

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

Forgive U.S. fans if they were already mapping out the MNT’s path through the knockout rounds. The players may have been doing the same thing. After all, how else does one lose a ball at midfield with 30 seconds left in a match? Or fail to cover Cristiano Ronaldo on a cross? Or lose Silvestre Varela in the box with seconds to spare?

Yes, the team that never stops working took a flier for the final seconds of their encounter against Portugal, and paid a steep price for their complacency. Now, instead of looking towards a possible first place seeding in their Group, the U.S. has to hope for either a win, a draw against powerhouse Germany or a draw between Ghana and Portugal to advance.

Should have kept working, I suppose.

Individually, there were several positives to take from this match — particularly after watching what the U.S. did (or didn’t do) against Ghana. However, some lingering negatives have yet to be addressed.

Here are our player ratings against Portugal:

TIM HOWARD – 6
Had Howard’s first half form continued, this grade would have been much lower. He was bracing himself for the first goal after Cameron’s gaffe, falling to the floor and allowing an easy shot in. He nearly got caught at the half as well, misplaying Eder’s shot off the post before making a spectacular save on the rebound. He made up for it all with an outstanding second half that kept the U.S. in this one.

FABIAN JOHNSON – 7.5
Consistency and reliability are what any coach hopes to get from their players, and Johnson has been doing it ever since the send-off series. Another powerful performance by the right fullback.

GEOFF CAMERON – 4.5
Cameron played a part in both Portuguese goals. His failed clearance and overall jittery start cost the U.S. early. While not entirely his fault, Cameron was also late to cover on Varela’s decisive game finisher. Settled in nicely in between but was certainly the weak link on defense.

MATT BESLER – 6
Excellent bounce-back performance from Besler who did well to shadow Eder throughout the match. The clear anchor of the defensive line.

DaMARCUS BEASLEY – 6
A better performance from Beasley, though he once again failed to generate much in terms of offense from the left fullback position. Points off for the yards of space afforded Ronaldo for the game tying goal. Yes, it’s Ronaldo, but his lax defending triggered the goal that followed.

KYLE BECKERMAN – 6
Again, another quiet but solid game for the Real Salt Lake captain. Like Ghana, he was there to destroy the opposition’s advances. Unlike Ghana, he showed a touch of class on possession as well.

JERMAINE JONES – 8 (EOS MotM)
Has there been a single midfielder in the U.S. pool who has played the kind of effective two-way game that Jones has? Not only has he been able to stifle opposing attacks, he has created his fair share of offensive moments — including Sunday’s game-tying goal.

MICHAEL BRADLEY – 5
The U.S. wants three things from Michael Bradley this tournament: 1) play the creative distributor, 2) be a leader and 3) influence composure on your teammates. Despite a handful of creative moments, it is safe to say Bradley has fallen short in both the Ghana and Portugal matches. His lack of composure at game’s end cost the U.S. points as he inexplicably tried to play the ball instead of running the clock. A costly mistake in a match filled with errors.

ALEJANDRO BEDOYA – 5
Midfield wingers are usually expected to contribute the bulk of their workload on the offensive side. Bedoya has bucked that trend with steady defensive play. Lucky for him, he is flanked by Johnson who has proven a spark plug, but at some point, Bedoya has to show some attacking prowess of his own.

GRAHAM ZUSI – 5.5
First start jitters? An unforgiving Amazonia pitch? Whatever it may be, Zusi did not look like he belonged on the World stage for large parts of this encounter. Great heads up play to find Dempsey late in the match, but little else to speak of here.

CLINT DEMPSEY – 7
The captain is coming into his own. The goal that should have sent them through to the knockout rounds was just another indicator of his ownership over this side. He did well to link up play, particularly in the absence of Altidore, and was a constant threat to lead the line.

SUBSTITUTES

DeANDRE YEDLIN – 6
Count me amongst those that shook their head and wondered ‘what is Klinsmann thinking here?!’ Yedlin proved many folks wrong, playing a vital role in pressing the Portuguese backline late in the match and playing the distraction for Dempsey’s ultimate notch.

CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI – N/A
Very little to judge from other than a nice time-wasting run. Others should have followed his lead (ahem, Bradley).

OMAR GONZALEZ – N/A
Another headscratcher from Klinsmann – particularly in place of Zusi. Nothing really to judge in his limited time performance.

THE COACH

JURGEN KLINSMANN – 6.5
First of all, hats off to Klinsmann and his technical staff. After a rough start to the match, they were able to instill composure in their lineup and take the game to Portugal. Klinsmann’s late game substitutions were once again on point as well, with Yedlin pushing the line and Wondolowski playing a team-first role in his limited minutes. Points off, however, for the slow start and the final mental lapse leading to Portugal’s two goals. The U.S. needs to come out flying from the gate in games against hobbled opposition. They also have to learn how to close out wins. Both of those things fall on the head of Klinsmann.


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