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USMNT player grades vs. Turkey: Davis stands out, Chandler struggles out of position

Jun 1, 2014, 11:53 PM EDT

DempseyAltidore AP

It’s time to hand out our grades for the US national team’s 2-1 victory over Turkey.

It was a big of an ugly match, but in a good way – from a neutral perspective – as shaky defense led to plenty of chances on goal.

Unfortunately, both teams also struggled to finish, as the scoreline could very well have been much higher.  Few players made glaring mistakes, but few players also played well enough to distance themselves from the median.

Let’s run through the starting lineup first, and then touch on the substitutes.

Tim Howard: 7

Howard had little to do at first. The United States defense was nervy throughout, but it mostly cleaned up its own messes.  However, Howard was solid and didn’t let any mental lapses by his defense affect his goalkeeping, and a number of times it appeared had the Turks gotten solid shots off, Howard had the goal covered anyways.

The only moment Howard was truly caught out was on Nuri Sahin’s 13th minute shot, but it hit the post and went wide.

Timmy Chandler: 5

Chandler looked a bit over his head in the left-back position. It’s odd that Klinsmann would even put him out of position in the first place, given that Fabian Johnson has proven capable on the left despite not being right-footed.  He ultimately gave away the ball that would lead to Turkey’s only goal late, forcing Brad Guzan out of goal on a one-on-one situation and causing defenders to slide onto the goal line.

Hopefully Klinsmann has learned to use Chandler in his natural position only, because mistakes like this would without a doubt be lethal in Brazil. Klinsmann shouldn’t be tinkering too much at this point, and hopefully that’s the last we’ll see of it.

Matt Besler: 6

Besler still has communication issues with the defense constantly changing around him, but overall he remains solid at the back. Nobody in the US defense had a particularly good match, and Besler only played 45 minutes but didn’t make any glaring mistakes.

Geoff Cameron: 6

Much the same as Besler, he is emerging as the best option for Klinsmann in the center of defense, but still has communication issues.  It’s imperative that Klinsmann instill an environment of consistency as soon as possible so the defense can play as a unit rather than four members.  Still, Cameron himself didn’t make any glaring mistakes, and hopefully the big picture improves going forward.

Fabian Johnson: 7

Johnson covered an incredible amount of ground today, and while the defense as a whole struggled, Johnson stood out going forward.  He was constantly in a positive position in the attacking half, and still managed to get back and cover for his fellow defenders after a spell in attack.  It’s beating a dead horse at this point, but like the others, Johnson can improve by communicating more and working together with his back line.  For a night when he picks up his first international goal, we’ll give him a pass for other small issues.

Jermaine Jones: 5

Jones was a constant source of turnovers, and while he remains an athletic and technically gifted option, it’s becoming more and more of a question whether he can handle the duties that fall to the man in back of the midfield diamond. Jones appeared to be frustrated at being shackled by Klinsmann’s tactics, and his playing style is much like Michael Bradley’s rather than the Kyle Beckerman mold that fits that position perfectly.  Jones never seems to shake the sentiment that he’s a red card waiting to happen, either, and it’s all fans can do to hope that doesn’t hurt the team in Brazil.

Graham Zusi: 6

Zusi put in his usual quota of quality crosses, something that US fans have gotten accustomed to.  Don’t. They’re fun to watch, and are incredibly important, as they give the formation yet another threat out wide. However, he also found himself bit by the finishing bug, and blasted into the side netting on a wonderful opportunity from a tight angle.  Zusi is the ideal player for Klinsmann’s formation, and he will be a lock going forward.

Brad Davis: 7.5

While it’s hard to give him an 8 given how much he seemed to drift in and out, Davis was the most effective midfielder the US had in the first half, and he also delivered some beautiful crosses in for the big Jozy Altidore to handle. Brad’s backtracking appeared worse than it really was thanks to Chandler struggling mightily one-on-one. His handball is whatever, that’s not an important talking point. With Ale Bedoya, Aron Johannsson, and Davis all vying for the starting wing position, Davis – like Bedoya last weekend – did his best to show Klinsmann he’s the right choice.

Michael Bradley: 7

While not as sloppy as against Azerbaijan, Bradley still has strides to make in the ball security category.  However, his brilliant flick to spring Fabian Johnson for the goal was superb, and had Fabian not gotten there Clint Dempsey was waiting in the wings to finish it.  Bradley is the most creative American on the pitch when he gets the license to roam as he pleases, and he has just that at the top of the diamond.  If he can clean up the rest of his game, Bradley will be a gamechanger for the US in Brazil. But you already knew that.

Clint Dempsey: 6.5

Dempsey found himself in plenty of attacking areas and in gobs of space, but was overshadowed by Jozy Altidore in this match. While that’s not exactly a bad thing, he didn’t necessarily take his few chances to heart either.  His goal was silly – a straight-up gift – which he acknowledged with a hearty chuckle after putting the ball in the back of the net.  He displayed an incredible double-touch to get past a defender, but couldn’t get back into a shooting area. Dempsey is an important player, and while he looked bright at times, the US may need a little more from him in the coming days. His play, however, has that feel of a player just starting to heat up…

source: Getty Images

Jozy Altidore found spaces well and unlocked the Turkish defense, but struggled to finish confidently.

Jozy Altidore: 7

Altidore did exactly what he’s done for Sunderland all Premier League season: get into excellent areas, find space, unlock teammates, and body down defenders, only to fail at the final moment.  He was by far the best attacking option the US had throughout the match, but just couldn’t find the finishing touch.  It’s imperative we give Altidore credit where credit is due, as he played exceptionally well, but he has to score for the US to be successful – and for his own confidence – in Brazil.

Altidore hasn’t gotten many breaks either, as the referee ruled out an obvious Altidore goal for an incredibly soft foul.  But he also blew numerous other chances at their vital moments, and after so much hard work it’s a shame he remains goalless for club or country since December 4th.

Substitutes:

Brad Guzan: 7

Guzan faced much more action than Tim Howard, and he was up to the task.  The Turkish attack wasn’t exactly launching missiles into his top corners, but he was still equal to everything he faced until the penalty.  He looked somewhat anchored down on the penalty stop, picking the correct side but not getting all the way to the post, but it was a quality penalty.

Kyle Beckerman: 6

Beckerman doesn’t do anything flashy, but he’s not supposed to in that position.  He holds the back of the diamond down with expert skill, and covers for his defenders so well nobody even notices he’s doing it.  Still, with Turkey pressing towards the end, Beckerman wasn’t exactly throwing his body on the line either (nor, frankly, should he just before the World Cup). A solid performance but nothing that stands out.

John Brooks: 5.5

Brooks came on at halftime for Besler, and he continued the back line theme. There was little teamwork, and although the penalty can’t be blamed on him whatsoever, he didn’t do much to prove he’s on the level of Cameron or Besler and multiple times he lost his mark in the box.  Brooks, like a few of the other defenders, is lucky Turkey didn’t have their shooting boots on.

DeAndre Yedlin: 6

He didn’t do much in the half-hour he was on the pitch, and Turkey gained a presence on possession after he entered.

Julian Green: 6

Green still appears to be a little nervous, and he’s not fully confident on the ball either.  He had a very tough task in front of him while receiving a long ball from the back, and just touched too hard bringing it down in the box for his best chance.  At this point it’s hard to see him getting much time in Brazil, but it’s possible Klinsmann gives him a full 90 against Nigeria to try and bring out his confidence and show the fans what he’s capable of.  We still don’t have a very good bead on his abilities at this point.

  1. ryanw822 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    lol@Davis being a 7.5.

    • scrummymustard - Jun 2, 2014 at 9:16 AM

      he played ok…but 7.5?? He didn’t even stick out.

    • jay1934 - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      The joke is Altidore getting a 7. He stinks and should be on the bench. He’s out of position and can’t keep his hands of the opponents and he doesn’t know the offsides rule. He hasn’t been subbed once in the two games they’ve played when he should have been subbed.

      • awsnavely - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:18 PM

        ^When the opposing coach says he was the most impressive player on the field, maybe you should reconsider calling for his benching.

      • kilik96 - Jun 3, 2014 at 1:20 AM

        Here here!

      • chadmoon1 - Jun 3, 2014 at 6:20 PM

        Apparently you don’t either. It is offside, not “offsides”, and it is a law, not a rule.

    • jay1934 - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      Bradley is consistently a good player and should deserve more than 7.

  2. gra42 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:47 AM

    “It’s odd that Klinsmann would even put him out of position in the first place, given that Fabian Johnson has proven capable on the left despite not being right-footed.”

    No, it isn’t odd that a right footed player would be more adept at tracking back and herding attackers away from the middle. That’s how kinesiology works in defensive soccer tactics: It’s easier to mark back and get a good position on an attacker when you have you’re dominant side to the middle when facing front. It’s easier to control a curve you’re running to the outside line, bending it out further or straightening it when running with pace towards your own goal. Pretty much the reason why Johsnon has always defended well on the left from a high position.

    • skjln - Jun 2, 2014 at 7:26 AM

      He says that it is odd, because Chandler has always looked uncomfortable when playing on the left. Additionally, Chandler has said that he doesn’t like playing on the left. So, it IS odd that JK tries it again. Irregardless of Kinesiology, many right footed players struggle when playing on the left.

      • gra42 - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:25 AM

        They do struggle to support build-up when they are asked to play in tight and the mids don’t track down and in, the way they do in our 4/2/3/1 with Jones and Beckerman in front of the defense. When the outside defenders’ role is to mark and close down wide with their backs often turned to the play, the opposite is true.

      • gra42 - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:37 AM

        *Unless they are older or less athletic “technique oriented” defenders. Personally, I feel that if a defender has trouble with pace, physicality in 50/50s, and in the air, he’ll get lit up every time at the W.C. stage. Not really any room for Kinesiological compromise at the back, as showed by Chandler on the left against Turkey and Johsnon today against Nigeria. He had some close shaves one on one, but help was always there by design.

  3. engwolf - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:03 AM

    I don’t really understand why the writers keep mentioning that Aron Johannsson could play on the wing and challenge Bedoya or Davis for that starting spot in the diamond midfield. Sure, Johannsson would do great there but he’s listed as a forward.
    He took Wondo’s place in the Azerbaijan game which points to the idea that he will most likely play in a striker or forward position. This is the same fate LD fell to. Many keep suggesting that Julian Green (MF) took his spot, but yet again LD was listed as a forward in the 30-man roster and Johannsson is as well. Something tells me Klinsmann doesn’t plan to cross those position designations too much based on his comments about LD.

    • siris46 - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:55 PM

      Johannsson primary plays a central forward position, but he has played on the left wing in his career.

  4. poewing - Jun 2, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Did you go to the game? I did. Altidore played with no passion or confidence. His offering in the area were slow and weak. Timmy chandler had an impressive game besides the total breakdown at the end and one other mistake. We have skilled players (Wondolowski and Zusi) and we have athelets (Altidore and Yelden) Julian Green is the only one that looks to be able to put the 2 together.

    • braxtonrob - Jun 2, 2014 at 5:17 PM

      @poewing, I can’t believe how different you saw this game. Altidore is at least creative and holds up big. Should he be starting? No. But, he could be an impactful sub.
      Chandler, (SMH), played off the back line and out-of-position nearly the whole game, and he encapsulated this by the PK he (essentially) gave up at the end by (once again!) trying to play forward. He sucks, plain and simple. Having a ‘defender’ who is not committed to defense … is like have no defender at all, … and it showed!

      I agree that Altidore and Yedlin (although both very good) are not starters (yet).
      As for Green, no way this kid is ready; that is the most wishful thinking I’ve seen by fans so far.

      • gra42 - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:27 AM

        Altidore plays the same regardless of who we face or when he’s played for us in his career. The only difference in his production is that now our entire attack is getting support form the back line, so other teams don’t have the luxury of double marking the ball and whoever our target forward is.

    • Vickie - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:55 PM

      Poewing, were we watching the same game? Altidore played a solid, physical game and muscled in on a number of situations that put key pressure on the Turks, or contributed to our possession. And Chandler was out of his league the whole game, constantly leaving his left side for the middle for some reason, allowing the Turks to move the ball up without pressure in that area.

  5. poewing - Jun 2, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    if Brad Davis was bigger or faster he’d be the best player on the team.

  6. geojock - Jun 2, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Is it just me or does Howard seem like he spills every well hit ball that comes his way??

  7. mckestner - Jun 2, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    I thought Brooks played much better than a 5.5, dude was everywhere on defense.

  8. midtec2005 - Jun 2, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    The back line experimentation right before the tournament is a bit worrying. Hopefully it will have time to gel… Johnson Gonzalez Besler and Beasley are used to playing together, but Cameron is a better player than all 4. Tough call, but now I think we have to ride this Cameron Besler partnership out. And hopefully Chandler stays on the bench. He may be a better defender than Beasley, but he’s not always switched on. Same thing with Brooks. They may both be the future, but they aren’t ready yet.

    • mknow406a - Jun 2, 2014 at 7:47 PM

      Would love to hear the criteria used to rank Cameron above Fab Johnson…

      • midtec2005 - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:24 AM

        Good point.

      • gra42 - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:29 AM

        Yeah, I love Cam but Johnson is simply one of the better raiding defenders in the world today.

  9. braxtonrob - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Chandler is awful, replace him. (How is Parkhurst not better than him?!?)
    Jones played just where he left off from the 2nd half of the last game – great. His pass decisions are still way too hopeful but he was great defensively and his touch is on as good a stretch as I’ve ever seen from him. That being said, I think Beckerman can do the job just as well out of the back.
    Howard and Guzan are equally good (IMO), but one yells at the back line and the other supports them, respectively. I choose the latter, because he’s more active and doesn’t wander off the line too far, but obviously this is a moot point (since Howard is everyone’s favorite, including JK’s).
    Green is a striker at best, not a MF’r. I could name another MF’r that was mistakenly cut from the team as a striker … but I won’t.
    Altidore and Dempsey are very talented creative players. But Altidore is out-of-sync, with everyone, and Dempsey is selfish (making himself one-dimensional).
    IMO, they’re 2nd string right now. Johannsson is better than Altidore, and Wondo is more likely than Dempsey to score goals. And that’s the bottom-line: we … need … goals (two weeks from now), not great players trying hard.

    • kilik96 - Jun 3, 2014 at 1:25 AM

      Dempsey is selfish. Dempsey had the ball coming into the box. Diskerud coming off the bench, went on a run for nothing. Dempsey didn’t even look like he considered passing to him. Defense got the ball. smh.
      There have been complaints that players including Altidore and Johnson don’t make runs. Why make a run if its a low chance that you get passed too. That’s a lot of wasted energy.

  10. kryptock - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    a 5 for Tim Chandler? Did you perhaps forget the negative sign?

    For the most part that whole back line looked terrible. They recovered well and had some big shot blocks but they were constantly out of position. The center backs did a horrible job of rotating off of assignments. Giants holes were left as people were filling the wrong spaces. No one stepped up to put pressure on a ball carrier just outside the 18. Backside and deep switch cover was terrible as well.

    Forget the goal for a moment. The shot by Sahin that hit the post was only dangerous because no one thought to actually cover him. It did not seem like there was any communication between the back 4 and sometimes between the back 6 or so players. Jermaine Jones and the wings did not help much either. At times there was a massive lack of energy with this team.

  11. Vickie - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    Why on earth did you give Green a 6? He is out of his class and shouldn’t even be on the team; the opposition just swats him out of the way with little trouble. He blew a corner kick also, which anybody at anywhere near this level ought to be able to do cleanly. Chandler should not have been in that game either; he kept leaving the Turkish right forward/mid way open, and on that play that led to the p.k., made a number of mistakes. Sorry, but this should be the best of the best, and those two don’t belong there. Maybe later, but not now.

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