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United States vs. Nigeria: Player ratings

Jun 7, 2014, 8:22 PM EDT

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JUNE 07: Midfielder Michael Bradley #4 of the United States dribbles during the international friendly match against Nigeria at EverBank Field on June 7, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida. Getty Images

In the final match of the send-off series provided a familiar result. Coming off a 2-1 win over Turkey, the U.S. produced another 2-1 victory over Nigeria, giving up a late penalty along the way. Player-for-player, however, improved performances showed a team that’s one step closer to being ready for the World Cup.

This player grading scale is likely more volatile than most you’re used to, but in a performance that was marketable better than the last, it’s easier to differentiate where those improvements were with more leeway up or down.

Here are those player-for-player performances:


Tim Howard: 6

Howard didn’t have too many serious tests, but he worryingly spilled the ball a few times, thankfully to no harm.  A relatively routine day for his 100th cap.

Geoff Cameron: 7

The center-back pairing was very good, with the only dip in concentration coming the first five minutes out of the half. Cameron was in Besler’s shadow for much of the match, but he performed very solid.

Matt Besler: 8

The 27-year-old displayed every facet of his game and excelled at all.  We’re throwing out his tackle for the penalty (which was horrific) because he was in a no-win situation. Otherwise, he was outstanding in the air, and covered any Nigerian attacker who felt like streaking through the middle. He was especially solid on the break when the outside backs found themselves caught out of position (which they both did often), able to hold down the middle until help came back. A very promising match for Besler.

DaMarcus Beasley: 5

Both Beasley and Johnson found themselves out of position a few times after attacks broke down quicker than anticipated, but Beasley overall struggled. It’s nothing that should worry fans too much, but occasionally he found himself encroaching on teammates’ positions enough to disrupt them on the ball, and when he did get forward, his few shots were way off and his crosses found green shirts. Get em next time DMB.

Fabian Johnson: 6

Fabian also found himself out of position every so often, but his weren’t as egregious (aside from two in the first half where Bedoya defended well).

Kyle Beckerman: 8

Beckerman is one of the smartest players on the field, if not the smartest, and shows it time and time again with composed tackles that slice attacks off before they can build. His play is never heralded, since it’s work in the trenches, but he was essential to holding back Nigeria who had no options through the middle

Jermaine Jones: 7

In an interesting position given Klinsmann’s morphing formation, Jones was constantly at work, pinching centrally on defense and then moving very wide left in the attack.  He didn’t get into too many attacks, but he flowed well from the left to the middle, and in a formation that required a lot of running, Jones seemed to be at home with the freedom to stretch his legs.

Clint Dempsey: 8

Nobody can decide where Dempsey plays best – on the wing, or up front. Well, Klinsmann gave him freedom to roam both, and he was excellent. Drifting out wide when Jozy went high, and moving centrally when Altidore got sucked back, Clint did what he does best and that’s making runs on the break.

Michael Bradley: 9

Bradley was the anchor of the midfield triangle, and was brilliant doing so. He cut up the Nigeria midfield on the ball finding every open US player in a dangerous position, and on the back end he held down the middle in front of Beckerman and Jones. The middle of the pitch was owned by the US, and Bradley was the main reason why. After two mediocre performances from a key US player, this was the Bradley the Stars and Stripes need to advance in Brazil.

Ale Bedoya: 7

The Nantes winger shone at times and disappeared at others, but he did a great job covering for when Fabian Johnson was caught out, and he made some great runs in support of the attack. Bedoya needs to learn to be more efficient with his energy, often running all over the place as Klinsmann screamed his lungs out to position him properly, and it resulted in a tired Ale by the 60th minute. But while the tank had gas, he was a positive.

Jozy Altidore: 8

Nobody needed a goal more than Jozy, and he got 2, the second one an absolute howitzer.  With no more streaky, confidence-based player on the US squad than Jozy, he needed a game like today in the worst way.  He was great outside of the goals, even defending well when he was needed.  An absolute boost for the United States headed to Brazil.


Graham Zusi: 6

The first of Klinsmann’s subs put in a solid 30 minutes after coming on for Alejandro Bedoya.

Mix Diskerud: 7

The midfielder tossed in a number of outstanding balls up front on the break, and looks every bit a solid option for Klinsmann off the bench in Brazil.

Omar Gonzalez: 5

His small amount of time on the field led to a penalty, and he made Besler look bad in the process. A yucky few minutes for the struggling LA Galaxy defender.

Chris Wondolowski, Timmy Chandler: N/A

Weren’t on the pitch enough to get a good bead on, Chandler made one good run on the ball and created a chance on his better left side, while Wondo flubbed one tough chance in the box.

  1. onelovesoccer7 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    Jones rated to low if Beckerman was a 8. i think they both played evenly.

    Tackles statistics:

    Jones – 4, Beckerman 1


    Jones – 1, Beckerman 0


    Jones – 2, Beckerman 1


    Jones – 2, Beckerman 0


    Jones – 6, Beckerman 4

    Passing %:

    Jones 80, Beckerman 86

    thought it was weird FJ is a 6 and there is no mention of his assist and nice combo with Bedoya. Jones to Bedoya to Johnson to Jozy. he also had 8 recoveries which shows while he got forward, he got back.

    • georgebomma - Jun 8, 2014 at 10:52 PM

      @onelovesoccer7, I’m not surprised. There’s this negative vibe I’m sensing from the U.S soccer media towards German-American players in general. It’s plain disrespectful to some of us whose parents served in Germany. I didn’t turn out to be a soccer player but I’m American and proud. Jones had a better game than Beckerman, Dempsey rated below a 7 for me.

  2. onelovesoccer7 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    also have to disagree about Beasley. he had a 100% pass completion rate. was 0 for 2 crosses though. 8 recoveries is great too!

  3. mknow406a - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    I have been VERY critical of Beckerman’s lack of speed. However, that was because I always assumed it would be either Beckerman OR Jones… I have got to admit, putting both Jones and Beckerman with Bradley on the pitch today was incredibly effective. On the few instances that Beckerman’s pace left him exposed, Jones busted back to cover. Imagine that… Apparently winning a World Cup as a player and leading a team to the World Cup Semis as has coach, may just have given JK enough experience to know more than me. LOL!

  4. jimmycrackcorn99 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    Beckermann an 8? Didn’t I see at least 3 lost passes in transition play?

  5. ojom4130 - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    Actually Dempsey had a poor game no better than a 6, while Bradley desrves a 9, and Jozy and Jones get 8.5s.

    Bradley made several Pirlo like passes to Deuce that he mishandled or didn’t read. He also shot into the goalies legs instead of laying off a tap in for Jozy. If he doesn’t step it up, he’ll be the first subbed out.

  6. bdh75gunner - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    MB was playing Ghana while the rest of the team was playing Nigeria?

  7. wvhoo - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    The fact that you gave Beckerman a grade of 8 and Beasley a grade of 5 makes your analysis useless. Not sure what game you were watching.

    • jimmycrackcorn99 - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:42 PM

      +1 I thought I saw Beckerman give away at least 3 balls with simply stupid passes.

    • godsholytrousers - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:45 PM

      I can’t give Beckerman an 8 either, but if I were the coach, I would be hard pressed to not play him every time I sent a team out. It is a simple formula for the US, play Beckerman and control the opponent (every time he plays). I don’t know why, he is not great physically or technically but he always makes those around him better. You can’t blame Kyle B. for being over enthusiastic.

      • Kyle Bonn - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:51 PM

        Couldn’t agree more. It doesn’t stand out, but the midfield locks down every time Beckerman plays. I realize I’m a little more lenient when it comes to moving a guy’s score up or down, but I wanted to differentiate who I felt played well and who dropped a bit. Nobody played a bad game, per say, I should make that clear

  8. mcba1n - Jun 7, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    Dempsey an ‘8’? You clearly are mad, sir, or do not watch football regularly. Sorry to be a bit brash, but rewatch the game and tell me he’s an ‘8’, please – and by what criteria it requires to earn such a high rating.

    Eventually you lose count of blown opportunities with Dempsey’s mistouches, trying to be clever, or poorly directed passes – OR the fact he had several opportunities to create better chances – and out of those chances he had 1 really strong shot on target. But that all tied into the play of the game which became a lost opportunity by not passing it to Joze on a 2 on 1. He took a selfish shot, rather than take the ‘walk it in goal’ because he’s not a team player. I can’t think of anyone other than Arien Robben that would not have passed in that situation. I can’t tell you how many easy goals I’ve seen walked in this year with similar situations. Why? TEAM>Dempsey.

    The situation where Bedoya turned a bad pass into a great scoring opportunity if Dempsey stops (like a smart player might do) 8 or so yards out from goal, rather than just run at the net for no reason – 2 Nigerian defenders v Dempsey = fail, where-as there was space for him to set up. This is what great strikers do. Also, on SEVERAL plays, rather than making a run to open area on the flanks to draw defenders, he either stood there – or ran at the net, helping no one.

    Dempsey, by my account, was a 2 – maybe.
    I would appreciate it if we can all look at these games more objectively. He upset me with his selfish/lazy play. It’s on the tape – it’s easy to go back and see.

    Do I have high expectations of Clint? You bet – but there’s a reason he’s not playing on a club challenging for the Champions League anymore. I used to love the guy, but ever since he got the Captain’s armband, he’s disappointed me at every step. He is not a captain, nor a player capable of being rated an “8” out of 10 anymore. Let’s be fair.

    Anyhow, I hope Jurgen saw what I did – and strong win for the boys. I thought we’d be out-classed badly.

    • mknow406a - Jun 8, 2014 at 12:28 AM

      “I thought we’d be out-classed badly.” Yup, that pretty much sums it up… you are clueless!

      Whether Dempsey is 100% effective or not is irrelevant… and you OBVIOUSLY don’t grasp the bigger picture. His chip against Juve was world class… which means EVERY team the US faces knows he’s capable of producing such sublime finishes! That means teams PAY ATTENTION to him whether he has the ball or not, or whether he is producing or not, thus he still is capable of creating space and opportunity for others… with Dempsey active on the pitch, defenders must decide on the fly if Jozy, Bradley, Fab Johnson moving up or Dempsey is the biggest threat… Dempsey’s presence alone creates opportunities for the rest of the team, not too mention that he consistently popped up in the build up. No matter how much merit your argument MAY have had, giving him a miserly 2 (as opposed to a reasonable 5 or 6) shows a complete lack of an overall respect and understanding of what he brings to the game. Was it his best overall performance? No way. Was it a 2? Stop the melodramatics already….

  9. paxonst - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    wvhoo, I could not agree with you more. No slight to Beckermann, but Beasley played a very solid game. The fact that Bonn gave Beasley the same rating as Gonzalez is incredulous. Gonzalez should never see the field. He shouldn’t have made the squad. He’s a habitual ball-watcher. That’s why he constantly gets beat.

  10. braxtonrob - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:50 AM

    I actually thought Howard was very good. If he’d stop barking at our backline, I’d give him a 9, as he is, an 8.

    (Please don’t anyone lecture me about how it’s the GK’rs ‘job’ to constantly ridicule the backline – see Guzan, if necessary.)

    • bdh75gunner - Jun 8, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      You take issue with Howard’s barking?

      As someone who played at center back for 12 years, there’s nothing more I appreciate than a GK that talks.

      • braxtonrob - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        Depends on what he is saying; I’m fairly certain it’s not always supportive.
        (I, too, played Sweeper for 12 years. I preferred being in charge or someone else on the backline with me, not the GK’r! Euphemistically, chalk up to ‘personal preference’, but that’s just me being nice about it.)

    • josephurban - Jun 8, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      It is the JOB of the GK to “bark” at his defense. To set them up properly. He sees the entire field. A GK who keeps his mouth shut is helping no one. Especially when you have a relatively inexperienced (in terms of playing together) back line. He’s not their mother. Yell if you have to .

      • braxtonrob - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:35 AM

        Then why doesn’t Guzan do it, (and a few other world class GK’rs I could mention).
        It’s not his “job”, it’s matter of opinion which type of GK’r is preferred.

      • braxtonrob - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:37 AM

        It’s his job to communicate, not to ridicule. It’s a matter of preference. I could name plenty of world class GK’rs who don’t (or didn’t) do it that way.

      • braxtonrob - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        re: “job”, no, it isn’t. It’s PART of his job to COMMUNICATE, not deflect blame away from himself.

  11. vin904 - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    I was there and Beasley had a great game. Made some important stops good recovery, and also made good runs. Those Nigerians were big and he held his own. He got a huge cheers when he came out if the game.

  12. heelfans - Jun 8, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    I’m generally a bit uncomfortable with such high scores across the board although I agree that everyone played well. Dempsey gets too much heat for not scoring. He was constantly moving, making great runs and in general making himself a constant danger to Nigeria. Much like Jozy’s ability to to hold and distribute, CD’s work goes unappreciated.
    BTW, is anyone else embarassed by Twelman and Dark’s on-air love affair with Michael? MB is truly our MVP but he does make mistakes which are usually ignored, while poor passes from other players, like Bedoya, require extensive commentary.

  13. josephurban - Jun 8, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    You give Besler an 8 by “throwing out” his PK take down ?????HUH ???He was out of position. That is why he took down the Nigerian.

  14. mikeevergreen - Jun 10, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    Beckermann and Jones are perfect for the group stages. They limit the middle for all three opponents. Glad JK got this one down pat.

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