(Thursday, March 4, 2010) -- The United States men fielded as strong a lineup as its current injury list would allow, but still dropped a 2-1 decision to the host Netherlands yesterday in a friednly at Amsterdam's ArenA before a near capacity crowd of 46,630.
U.S. Player Ratings
On paper, the U.S. losing 2-1 to one of the strongest teams in the world playing at home and using close to its best 11 would seem like a decent result. Add in that the Dutch goals were scored on a penalty kick and a deflection and it might appear a good showing for a somewhat depleted American side. In reality, the U.S. was dominated from the opening kickoff until the final five minutes, by which time both sides had substituted liberally.
Until the closing five minutes, the U.S. had no quality chances on the Netherlands net. With Arjen Robben, Mark van Bommel and Wesley Sneijder, the Dutch absolutely dominated the midfield and kept the U.S. back on its heels. If it's true, as many say, that how Landon Donovan goes, so goes the U.S., then today was a prime example. Donovan was never a factor in the match and the American midfield was dominated from start to the final minutes.
Actually, a lot of credit has to go to the U.S. defense, especially the center, plus midfielder Michael Bradley for limiting the number of good chances the Netherlands had. The two Dutch goals were scored off a late first-half penalty kick after a horrendous and completely unnecessary foul by defender Jonathan Bornstein and a deflection off Bornstein on what looked a harmless shot, but turned into a moment of confusion after a defensive substitution and shifting responsibilities.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley was without some key players tonight, including defender Oguchi Onyewu of Italy's AC Milan (ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee); defender Steve Cherundolo of Germany's Hannover 96 (shoulder); midfielder Clint Dempsey of England's Fulham (right knee); midfielder Ricardo Clark of Germany's Eintracht Frankfurt (right calf muscle); midfielder Benny Feilhaber of Denmark's AGF Aarhus (damaged ankle cartilage); and Sochaux forward Charlie Davies of France's FC Sochaux (injuries sustained in car crash last October).
Bradley certainly put the best spin possible on the match when he said afterwards: "Certainly it was a good test for us and I think overall the team played well. The collective effort was pretty solid. There were moments where it needed to be sharper, quicker and better, and we still need to raise the bar. Late in the game it was nice to see a good push. We had the ability to move the ball forward get people running off it and we created some good opportunities. We take a lot from the game."
Bradley said the main purpose of the match was to get a look at some players against top-flight opposition before final decisions have to be made about who will be on the U.S. World Cup team this summer in South Africa. To that end, this match was obviously of value.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard - 6: Neither goal was his fault. Played strongly and did just about everything asked of him.
Defender Jonathan Spector - 5.5: Showed he belongs at this level. Under pressure most of the afternoon, he was not guilty of any serious mistakes. Started on the outside and held his own when he moved to the center.
Defender Carlos Bocanegra - 6: His experience at this level showed. The most consistent American defender throughout. Had a couple of mis-steps, but considering the pressure he was under, acquitted himself well.
Defender Jay DeMerit - 5.5: He is a tough, experienced central defender and showed it. Held his own against some world-class opposition.
Defender Jonathan Bornstein - 2: Just a dismal performance. Was obviously overmatched, conceding an unnecessary penalty kick..
Midfielder Stuart Holden - 5: Made little impression before he was injured early.
Midfielder Michael Bradley - 6: The only positive consistency in the midfield among the starters. Played very well defensively, a role he was forced to adopt for most of the afternoon.
Midfielder Josť Torres - 4.5: Got off one terrific long-range shot, but otherwise contributed little. Had problems linking to the forward line.
Midfielder Landon Donovan - 4: The official score card says he played 70-plus minutes, but it would be hard to tell watching the match. Completely disappeared for long stretches. Never a factor.
Forward Robbie Findley - 3: Was never in the match. Showed little flash and little ability, outside of pace.
Forward Jozy Altidore - 6: Received little service, but was able to create some chances on his own. Against a very strong defense, he showed moments of great skill.
Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley (34th minute for Holden) - 6.5: Was the only U.S. offensive spark on the day. Was very active and caused the Dutch defense problems. Perfect free kick led to American goal.
Midfielder Maurice Edu (46th minute for Torres) - 5: Showed the ability to hold the ball and make plays, and worked well in tandem with Bradley. That was a big plus.
Forward Alejandro Bedoya (63rd minute for Findley) - 5: Certainly did better than the man he replaced.
Defender Heath Pearce (70th minute for DeMerit) - 5.5: Took a few minutes to settle in, but did well on the outside.
Forward Eddie Johnson (76th minute for Donovan) - 4: Picked up where Donovan left off -- with little or no impact on the match.
Defender Clarence Goodson (86th minute for Bocanegra) - no rating: A token appearance.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: DaMarcus Beasley.