World Cup: USA player grades vs. Belgium

World Cup: USA player grades vs. Belgium
July 1, 2014, 6:30 pm
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It was nearly a historic day for Tim Howard as the United States nearly found a way to push the game into penalty shots. Sadly, the US fell short but can at least look forward optimistically thanks to the standout performances of youngster's DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green.

Tim Howard - Goalkeeper: He was the last, sometimes only, line of defense and nearly broke a long standing record in the process.  If not for Howard’s historic performance, there’s no way this game heads to extra time. The winner of this match, besides Belgium, is Everton. (9)

DaMarcus Beasley - Defender: You can forgive his last moment whiff, Beasley was up and down the field providing good support up the left flank and his far post runs protected the goal mouth from poachers. (7)

Matt Besler - Defender: Great challenge in the 62nd minute and a solid block in a 1-v-1 in the 83rd minute preserved the deadlock. (6.5)

Omar Gonzalez - Defender: Often left on an island, Gonzalez did what he could to keep the score knotted up with some individual blocks and challenges. (4)

[RELATED: Fabian Johnson scored extra-time goal for US]

Fabian Johnson - Defender: Not a very effective first half from a normally electric player. That can’t all be attributed to a strained hamstring. But it was certainly a performance he’d like to put behind him. (INJ)

Geoff Cameron — Midfielder: Despite being active on the field, his passes never seem to bring an impetus to the offense, runners seemed to be getting by him leaving him in the dust in the ensuring footrace. Sitting on a needless yellow card, the defensive carryover was forced into more conservative, cautious approach. (2)

Alejandro Bedoya - Midfielder: Belgian’s attack was largely funneled to Bedoya’s side and Bedoya wasn’t able to do much to suggest they do otherwise. Still, managed to keep the ball and only a handful of his passes were off the mark. His runs forward were quickly nullified by Belgian defenders. (2.5)

Jermaine Jones - Midfielder: Backtracking most of the first half, relying on Howard to get the stop. Belgium had no problems setting up shop in the final third and found very little pressure. Had a good chance to equalize in the 80th minute but had a leaden first touch. Still, he made up for that being the best midfielder going forward. (7)

Michael Bradley - Midfielder: Bradley bossed the midfield and made fantastic recovery run of sixty yards to be the to pressure Belgian attack. He wasn’t able to create much going forward if he wasn’t pushed out wide to the flanks. (4.5)

[RELATED: Dream run over for USMNT following loss to Belgium]

Graham Zusi - Midfielder: An error in the 22nd minute led to a dangerous attack by Belgium. Was set up but squibbed the kick late in the first half. Another misfire in the 58th can only be wistfully looked back as “what-if?” (2.5)

Clint Dempsey - Forward: Did the best with what he had to work with. Three shots forcing three saves. However wasn't able to do much else with the ball at his feet. He was dispossessed on the ball and wasn’t showing the ability to create for his teammates. (5)

RESERVES

DeAndre Yedlin - Came on for injured Fabian Johnson. He created a few opportunities with his pace and crossing ability. Unfortunately nothing came from that as there was seldom any players at all in the box when his crosses came. Great run in the 80th minute to convert an almost certain Belgian clearance into a US throw-in. (6)

Chris Wondolowski - He couldn't make the sitter in the dying minutes of regular time sit down but Wondo did what he does best: not necessarily make the shot but get himself in the right place at the right time. (5)

Julian Green - His subbing-on seemed like a surrender. Instead he made an inside run and gave the USA new life halfway through extra time. Complexion of the team changed completely when he made his appearance. (7)

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