World Cup 2014: US Advances to Next Phase

The USA came through on Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory over Guatemala to send them to the next stage in World Cup qualifying. Guatemala drew first blood early on through Carlos Ruiz, but the USA responded with a set piece goal from Carlos Bocanegra and a brace by Clint Dempsey.

Here is my assessment of how the team played:

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard was solid again. He was a little slow on the Carlos Ruiz goal and maybe could’ve come out earlier, but that goal was a breakdown in the back line. Other then that Howard looked like himself and now he will focus on Everton for the next few months. Rating: 7 out of 10

Defensemen: It was a rocky game for the back four. Geoff Cameron and Carlos Bocanegra had some communication issues and had trouble with Ruiz, who made many intelligent runs. Bocanegra did score the equalizer in typical “Bocanegra fashion” to calm US nerves. Right back Steve Cherundolo made a brilliant pass to create the second and game winning goal. Left back Michael Parkhurst was playing out of position but filled in nicely for normal left back Fabian Johnson. Rating: 6 out of 10

Central midfielders: Danny Williams and Michael Bradley controlled the center of the pitch and are continuing to build chemistry as the duo for many matches to come. Both were calm and distributed the ball to the flanks. Bradley was especially impressive with his creativity and has improved greatly in the last few years. Rating: 9 out of 10

Wingers/forwards: Eddie Johnson and Graham Zusi provided width for a USA team where wide players were a question mark. Johnson assisted Dempsey on the second goal and had a few chances himself. Zusi has played great in World Cup qualifiers and had his best match for the red, white and blue in front of a hometown crowd in Kansas City. Dempsey and Herculez Gomez gave problems to the Guatemala back line. Gomez drew the corner kick that led to the Bocanegra goal and gave great service on the right side. Dempsey started at central attacking midfield and eventually pushed up the pitch to play as a striker. He scored two goals and added an assist. It was Dempsey’s best match for the USA in a long time. Rating: 9 out of 10

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