Player-By-Player Analysis: U.S. vs. Colombia

| by World Soccer Reader

GK Brad Guzan, 6. After standing on his head for 45 minutes to keep Brazil off the board in August, the Aston Villa goalkeeper recorded his second straight scoreless outing in a U.S. uniform. The 26-year-old wasn’t terribly busy as congested midfield play dominated the match, but he was ready when called upon.

RB Jonathan Spector, 4. Logging his first minutes since Ryan Giggs tore him apart during Manchester United’s 3-0 win over West Ham on Aug. 28, Spector unfortunately picked up right where he left off. Most of Colombia’s opportunities in the first half came from his right side, and his distribution was subpar as well.

CB Clarence Goodson, 6. The IK Start defender hardly had his name called against Colombia, which usually is among the more flattering compliments a center back can be paid. With Jay DeMerit in club limbo, Carlos Bocanegra starting to show his age, and Omar Gonzalez lacking polish, Goodson is poised to be a major factor for the U.S. in this one-year build-up to the 2011 Gold Cup.

CB Oguchi Onyewu, 7. It was an encouraging match for the 28-year-old after his up-and-down outing against Poland. Wearing the captain’s armband for the first time, Onyewu looked sharp in the back as he made a habit of cleaning up Spector’s messes. Now, he can only hope his play caught the attention of AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri.

LB Heath Pearce, 6. Playing 90 composed minutes at left back must have come as a relief for the FC Dallas defender who played himself off the World Cup roster with a horrific performance against the Czech Republic in May.

DM Maurice Edu, 4. The Rangers man appeared a bit lost in the three-man central midfield deployed by coach Bob Bradley, and his early giveaway led to Colombia’s best scoring opportunity. Edu is certain to play a role for the U.S. going forward, although where his responsibilities will lie (In defense or midfield? As a starter or reserve?) is more up in the air than ever.

CM Jermaine Jones, 7. Whenever a U.S. player found himself under pressure, it seemed as if Jones would appear out of thin air to show for the ball, calmly collect it and cleanly distribute. He also tracked back diligently for the full 90 minutes and showcased his uncanny ability to always make the right pass. The downside? He is surely leaving U.S. supporters everywhere in agony as they imagine how far the Red, White and Blue could have gone in South Africa with him wreaking havoc alongside Michael Bradley.

CM Michael Bradley, 5. The 23-year-old picked up his play in the second half after the U.S. switched back to its customary 4-4-2 alignment. Considering the amount of ground both he and Jones can cover, leaving space open for them to roam in midfield is probably the best way to utilize their skill sets.

RM Stuart Holden, 5. Another player who had trouble operating in the crowded midfield, Holden continued to provide dangerous set-piece services in Landon Donovan’s absence but was otherwise uninvolved until after the break. Just as the Bolton midfielder started to find a rhythm, Bradley replaced him with Benny Feilhaber.

LM Brek Shea, 4. The 20-year-old’s national team debut ended up being a fairly unmemorable affair as he never really found the game from the left flank. Considering his advanced position, the FC Dallas winger must take some responsibility for the Yanks’ lack of menacing quality in the attacking third during the first half.

CF Jozy Altidore, 4. This was the type of contest that lends credence to those with concerns about Altidore’s future. His head seemed out of the match for long stretches, he needlessly wandered offside on multiple occasions, and his frustration ended up getting the best of him. Attempting to evade defenders one-on-one, he relied too much on sheer pace and strength at the expense of skill. While he did well to connect on Eric Lichaj’s late cross, steering it right at the goalkeeper was far from ideal.


CB Michael Parkhurst, 5. Returning to the U.S. side for the first time since his disappointing 2009 Gold Cup, the 26-year-old center back partnered well enough with Clarence Goodson to get his name back in the national team discussion.

RB Eric Lichaj, 7. Showing none of the hesitance that plagued Shea’s debut, Lichaj exuded confidence at right back during his first national team appearance. In addition to holding his own defensively, the Aston Villa defender picked his runs forward superbly, and his 86th minute cross that connected with Altidore was the Americans’ best chance of the night.

LM Clint Dempsey, 5. Taking the captain’s armband from Onyewu upon his halftime entrance, Dempsey provided the U.S. with a calming presence in midfield. He didn’t run at defenders or fight for position in front of goal with his usual vigor, but he gets a pass considering the heavy lifting Fulham will surely ask of him in the coming weeks.

CF Eddie Johnson, 4. His fairly abrupt ascension into Fulham’s rotation up top had some wondering if Johnson was finally returning to his pre-World Cup 2006 form. The player Sam’s Army saw against Colombia, however, was still the same lackadaisical striker who has been squandering opportunities in a U.S. uniform for years.

RM Benny Feilhaber, 5. Currently dominating the Danish second division, the AGF Aarhus midfielder must relish any chance he gets to play against decent competition. Feilhaber is typically good for one killer through ball a game, and he delivered that pass against Colombia on a quick free kick to Altidore. Unfortunately for the U.S., the Villarreal striker was offside.


Bob Bradley, 6. Often chastised for stubbornly sticking with his “empty bucket” 4-4-2 formation, Bradley used the Poland friendly and this match to experiment with variations of a 4-5-1 alignment that better suits the Yanks’ abundance of midfielders. The end result may not have been pretty, but he deserves credit for testing different tactics nonetheless. If there was one glaring mistake from Bradley, it was replacing the playing time-starved Spector at halftime, even if the defender was struggling. Why not yank Pearce , who FC Dallas will want rested for the stretch run, and test Spector’s versatility by giving him 45 minutes at left back?