First, some general thoughts…
>That wasn’t pretty (it never will be against Guatemala), but it’s 3 points. I think the team did a nice job holding on to the result after Gooch was sent-off. Several guys had to move around in the readjustment after the red-card (Hejduk to center back for a few minutes, Ralston to right back, Donovan up top then back to right mid then into the middle), but everyone in the makeshift lineup did what they needed to do to preserve the victory.
>Obviously, Gooch still concerns me
>I agree with Kartik in that, overall, this team lacks a little bite and mental toughness. It seems that this current player pool too often fails to match the intensity level of the opposition in games like this (it has been most notable in the two Guatemala games) In that sense, Mastro would have helped a lot.
Now, individual player assessments…
Howard: 6; kept a clean sheet; responded well when put under some pressure in the second half
Hejduk: 6; very solid performance at right-back from Frankie; he’s come a long way from the youngster who played a 100 miles-an-hour the entire game and fouled everything that moved
Bocanegra: 5.5; played pretty sound defensively, but did not distribute the ball out of the back extremely well; not bad, but I expect to see better in this tournament from Boca
Onyewu: 4; aside from the two senseless yellows that Onyewu picked up, he fouled Ruiz every time he got the ball; has got to start learning how to use his size and strength without fouling
Bornstein: 5.5; held his own out there, but did not do anything spectacular; needs to learn to pick his spots to go forward more carefully (he made me pretty nervous in the last 15 minutes)
Donovan: 6.5; very good game on the right for Landon; was dangerous on a few occasions and possessed the ball extremely well under pressure; I can’t recall a Donovan turnover
Beasley: 6.5; started looking much more comfortable on the ball in the 2nd half; his great touch header was the key in unlocking the Guatemalan defense for the first goal
Bradley: 5.75; played pretty well overall, but got caught by the speed of play a few times in the second-half
Feilhaber: 6.5; another solid performance in the central midfield; distributed the ball well and won his share of tackles
Twellman: 6; worked doggedly up front for about 70 minutes and set Dempsey up nicely for the winner; missed a good scoring opportunity, but combined nicely a few times in the 2nd half to create space and opportunities for others; overall looked more dangerous as a playmaker than a finisher
Dempsey: 7; like seeing Deuce up top; scored the gamewinner and was dangerous on several occasions; faded from the game a little bit before being substituted, but that seemed to be in large part to the physical abuse he took at the hands of the Guatemalans; hope he recovers quickly because he was the most dangerous American player on the field tonight