Ouch. It was literally painful watching the United States’ 3-0 defeat to Costa Rica Wednesday night. They never found a rhythm and after the first 15 minutes the match felt over (because it was). Adding insult to injury was listening to the nonsense of JP Dellacamera and John Harkes (especially Harkes) for two hours. Even the broadcasters didn’t show up.
Let’s go over the American players:
GK Tim Howard — What was up with the pants? It clearly wasn’t because it was cold, so I’m guessing Howard went to the sweat pants so he could protect his legs when diving on the turf (would have been nice if Dellacamera or Harkes at least mentioned it). The pants didn’t help. He had no chance at the first two goals and the third goal would’ve been tough save, but if your one of the top 20 goalies in the world you should have knocked that ball around the post. In 90 minutes, he made one nice save. Grade: D+
RB Marvell Wynne — I was actually excited to see Wynne in the started lineup — shows you how much I know. He was horrendous in the first half. He looked scared and he played like it. The second goal was a lot of people’s fault, but Wynne’s inability to mark any of the Costa Rica players made the goal way too easy. In the second half he was slightly better — running deep into Costa Rica’s zone trying to make something happen — but overall it was a pathetic performance. I was actually wondering if Frankie Hejduk would have made a difference in the match; that tells you how bad Wynne was. (Note: Wynne is the American soccer version of Greg Oden; he could easily be 34 years old.) Grade: D-
CB Oguchi Oneywu — Coming into the match I thought Oneywu was America’s best player — that needs rethinking. In fairness, his instructions were to cover for Wynne on the right whenever he got into trouble and Oneywu had to help all game. The problem was he would run over and not do much helping, leaving the center open. That’s exactly what happened on the second goal and a number of other times in the match. Like so many other Americans, he never looked comfortable. Grade: D
CB Carlos Bocanegra — When Bocanegra was at Fulham, I thought he was one of the worst central defenders in the Premier League. Then he goes to France and after a fairly good season with Rennes I was hopeful this was a new and improved Bocanegra. I was wrong. He didn’t make one solid defensive play. On the second goal he was out of position and on the third goal it looked like his feet were stuck in the turf (the turf was bad, but not that bad). A really poor match. Grade: D-
LB DaMarcus Beasley — What did Beasley do to John Harkes? The entires U.S. team was terrible but Harkes focused in on Beasley with laser-like procession. According to Harkes everything he did was terrible, from his first touches to keeping the ball in the offensive zone. In fairness, Beasley was pretty bad. The first goal was started from his turnover and he looked like a midfielder when he ran back on defense. He was able to push forward a little bit so he wasn’t completely worthless. Grade: D
MF Pablo Mastroeni — No more Pablo. Can this please be the last important international match for Mastroeni? I’m not sure how he got faked out so badly on Saborio’s goal but that mistake laid the foundation for the entire disaster. If you’re a defensive midfielder you’re whole purpose is to mess up the flow of the opposing teams offense. To say Mastroeni didn’t do that is an understatement. It’s a shame Maurice Edu was hurt. Grade: F
MF Michael Bradley — At least Bradley tries. This isn’t under-8 coed soccer, so trying isn’t everything but Bradley hustled the whole match and when he got the ball I wasn’t terrified of what might happen next (it’s a really low bar, I know). He did get schooled on the third goal, but it was after running the length of the field and you can’t blame him if he thought a center back might have been in position. Also, not one of his passes set up a goal scoring opportunity. Grade: D+
MF José Francisco Torres — Torres played an integral part in giving up the first and second goals and he didn’t create anything going forward. He did trap the ball well and made some decent short passes (which really impressed Harkes) but he didn’t really do anything. I honestly think Harkes thought Torres was the best American in the first half when in reality he deserved to be pulled at halftime. Grade: D
MF/FW/?? Clint Dempsey — Dempsey played Wednesday night? Really? Are you sure? I didn’t see him. Grade: F
FW Jozy Altidore — Altidore played as well as a forward can play for someone who didn’t have single chance on goal (I should note he did have a shot blocked by Bradley). He worked hard and he drew fouls. All those free kicks never turned into anything, but at least the U.S. had them. He proved he can be the target man up front and take a beating doing it. Don’t expect to see too much of Brian Ching in the future. Grade: C-
FW Landon Donovan — He wasn’t as quiet as Dempsey, but he was pretty quiet. Like all the American players, the turf bothered him and he wasn’t able to create like he usually does. Even his penalty shot wasn’t impressive; he got lucky the goalie guessed wrong. Grade: C-
MF Sacha Kljestan (46) — Made no impression on the match. I can’t recall one thing he did (good or bad) in the second half. Grade D
FW Freddy Adu (62) — He went out there with nothing to lose and that was refreshing to see. He wanted the ball, though he didn’t do much with it. The quick free kick he took was horrendous and wasn’t able to create any chances (see a pattern). Grade: C-
FW Charlie Davies (79) — Considering he was only out there for 10 minutes, I like what Davies did. He went at the Costa Rica defense, he got a shot off and he played physical (almost a little too physical). But, overall, considering he only played 10 minutes and the score was 3-0, he did ok. Grade: C+
Coach Bob Bradley — When I saw the starting lineup, I was pumped. We were going to go out there and try to win. But it didn’t work and Bradley deserves some criticism. In retrospect, his attacking formation was too ambitious and quite a few players didn’t look ready for the match. His arm was tied with the injuries, and he gets some points for being unconventional but in the end he got the tactics all wrong. Grade: D
Overall — The first goal really hurt. Saborio’s strike was world-class and if his shot goes over the bar maybe it’s a different match. It also looked like the turf really physiced out the Americans. In the end, it doesn’t really matter; the U.S. will still qualify for the World Cup. If the U.S. loses to the Honduras it will be time to get nervous.
Note on the coverage — It’s not just that Harkes’ analysis is terrible and that Dellacamra and Harkes have absolutely no chemistry, but it seems like they don’t prepare. Harkes didn’t say anything about any of the Costa Rican players. I’m guessing he didn’t because he didn’t know anything. At the end of the match, Dellacamra said “no one could have predicted this.” In reality, a lot of people thought a blowout was a strong possibility. I mean, come on guys — at least try.
How would you grade the performance?