The inexperienced side Coach Bob Bradley took to Copa America contrasted directly with the experienced “A” side that Bradley took to the Gold Cup. Despite lifting the Champions Trophy at the Gold Cup, the campaign was far from flawless, and in spite of an embarrassing last place finish at the Copa, the event did shed some positive light on certain us players. My player by player review follows.
Tim Howard (Everton, ENG)
Howard was solid between the posts and made some key saves in the final versus Mexico. He is clearly the new US #1
Grade: B +
Kasey Keller (No current club)
Keller is a legend of American football, but his instincts and skills have clearly diminished. In the Gold Cup semifinal he had trouble organizing the back four and was clearly on a different page than Oguchi Onyewu. During the Copa America, Keller made repeated mistakes either coming off his line too quickly, or misreading the flow of play. Thank you for a job well done, including four world cups and it’s now time to retire from international football.
Brad Guzan (Chivas USA )
Guzan is a very average keeper by any standard and it is a bit perplexing that for all these years US Soccer has been so high on him. Beaten out by thirty something journeyman Preston Burpo with Chivas USA last season, he regained his first team spot this year with some solid early season play. In his one Copa appearance he made some nice saves but also committed a shocking foul in the box conceding a penalty when he came storming off his line. Of course he saved the PK. Guzan is an average keeper who turned an average performance versus Columbia .
Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege , Belgium )
Onyewu’s poor positioning and propensity to commit silly fouls was shocking in the Gold Cup. However, as usual he turned in a good performance marking Jared Borgetti and the rest of Mexico ’s physical attacking players in the final.
Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham, ENG)
Simply because Bocanegra scores goals for both Fulham and US off set pieces does not mean he is an adequate center back. The new US captain seemed to be chronically mis-positioned and still has not learned not to play back passes into the area when under pressure. Bocanegra’s shocking pass to Onyewu cost the US’ the match against Ghana last summer in Germany and despite a solid year at Fulham, Bocanegra still seems a bit slow reading the game at this level. Nonetheless, he is a fiery player and if he is on the pitch he is a decent choice as captain.
Jay Demerit ( Watford , ENG)
Demerit has proven himself through this summer, in spite of a few errors to be the best US center back. During an otherwise forgettable Copa campaign he was probably the most consistent American defender despite a bad stomach virus. He also gave a much needed lift in the first group match of Gold Cup when he shut down Carlos Ruiz when the rest of the US defense had lost its composure. DeMerit also seemed to be the only sure tackler in the entire US squad during Copa.