GRADING BY MICHAEL HALEY WITH ADDITIONAL COMMENTS BY KARTIK KRISHNAIYER
1 Howard – DNP
Kartik’s Thoughts: Could he have made the critical save that sparked this team? Keller surely didn’t.
2 Albright – DNP
Kartik’s Thoughts: This team sorely missed Frankie Hedjuk’s hustle and his German experience from his Bundesligia days. His torn ACL was the first bad sign for the team’s prospects in Germany.
3 Bocanegra (2 starts, 180min) Review – Average. After not being used in the Czech debacle, did well in defending against a tough Italy attack with only one foul committed. Was a good option on set pieces and corners. Played fairly well v. Ghana again contributing in the attack but his misplay of the ball into the middle of the field approaching halftime was costly.
Kartik’s Thoughts: A solid cup with the exception of the misplay at the back that cost us the Ghana game.
4 Mastroeni (2 starts, 89min) Review – Poor. Was completely outclassed and looked lost in Czech game. Was substituted out for the mighty O’Brien. Truth is Mia Hamm would have been a better option. Held his own and even had a shot in first half v. Italy, that is until he flew into one of the most boneheaded tackles in the history of US Soccer. (Note to ref – boneheaded is not the same as bone crunching). Seconds from the half and miles away from the goal, Pablo’s cup was over.
Kartik’s Thoughts: Pablo couldn’t be truly effective because Reyna occupies much of the same space as he does on the pitch. This goes back to coaching and tactics. Played very well against Italy until the bonehead play that got him sent off. I’ll say he was average, but Pablo should bounce back after his suspension and contribute again during qualifying for South Africa 2010.
5 O’Brien (1 sub, 45min) Review – Poor. The review could be much worse but he did play 45 mostly vanilla minutes v. Czech and I’m saving the venom for someone special.
Kartik’s Thought: What a total waste of immense talent this guy has turned out to be. Perhaps the Czech game was his last in a USA uniform. In 1998, I predicted this guy would be first great American player in Europe. Shows how much or little I know!
6 Cherundolo (3 starts, 195min) Review – Average. After a disastrous debut v. Czech Republic being exposed trying to move up field, rebounded and was decent in later games. Played well v. Italy although never able to contribute to attack with service from right flank with any regularity. Substituted twice for Johnson without much drop-off in defense suggests USA may have been better off with an extra forward from the start.
Kartik’s Thought: Well said. Cherundolo at the very least proved he’s gritty enough to bounce back from a bad performance and play with some fire.
7 Lewis (2 starts, 163min) Review – Average. Another player with a sub-par opening performance who rebounded somewhat after being returned to his natural position of left midfield. Basically exposed at left back in the first game, he returned v. Ghana at left mid to show good energy and contribute some good runs. Exhibited that while capable of being an aggressive back against teams like T&T or Panama, miles away from the level it takes to succeed against teams like Czech Republic.