USMNT Player Ratings: Strong marks all around as US book ticket to 2014 World Cup
The US national team will mostly be sprinting home to show off good report cards after a resurgent effort brushed aside arch-nemesis Mexico for yet another 2-0 World Cup qualifying triumph in Columbus and helped book their ticket to Brazil.
Some early issues on the right side allowed the visitors to threaten a few times, but a renewed outing from Omar Gonzalez helped stem the tide until Eddie Johnson could decide the match with a "try, try again" corner kick header just past halftime.
GK Tim Howard (7.5) – After receiving some criticism Friday night, the netminder was essentially flawless given medium workload. Most of it came early, including a big 19th minute stop on Christian "Chaco" Giménez to keep the game scoreless. Howard was also aggressive in owning his box when necessary.
RB Fabian Johnson (5) – It wasn't a strong first half shift for the Hoffenheim man, who lacked sharpness with the ball. Most of the early trouble caused by Mexico came on incidents when Johnson was caught up the flank.
CB Omar Gonzalez (7.5) – In one of his most assured USMNT outings, Gonzo was the undisputed sky marshal at the back. After being duped by an early El Tri combo, the LA star hardly put a foot (or noggin) wrong.
CB Clarence Goodson (7) – The lanky center back had a bit less work to do than his partner, but handled it all smoothly and cleared a couple of dangerous low crosses. And like Gonzalez, Goodson also caused strife in US set pieces, culminating with a drawn second defender to clear the way for Johnson's winner.
LB DaMarcus Beasley (5.5) – Moving forward, DMB was more pressure valve than actual attacking threat. In defense, he did some good pressure work to slow down Mexico's attacking forays. Of course, there was also that one embarrassing "oops" that nearly ended up in his own net.
DM Kyle Beckerman (6) – The Real Salt Lake midfielder's instructions were clear: mind the gate. Beckerman generally did shield the defense well and kept it simple with the ball. On this night, that's enough for a job well done.
DM Jermaine Jones (7) – Probably the best player on the field in the opening frame, Jones kept it business-like after the break. In short, he was precisely the version of himself needed while standing in for Michael Bradley as the two-way midfielder.
RW Alejandro Bedoya (5.5) – The Nantes newcomer provided a couple sparks in attack, but had some fouling issues tracking back. To be fair, wide right is not his optimal position and Johnson's struggles added some sudden responsibilities.
CAM Clint Dempsey (7.5) – We won't mark off for the missed stoppage time penalty – let's say Deuce involuntarily maintained the integrity of Dos A Cero. Winning the spot kick, though, was another example of Dempsey bullishly pushing the team forward all night. Not only was he repeatedly linking play, the attacking engine got several tough touches in to do so.
LW Landon Donovan (6.5) – For much of the night, Donovan's touch with the ball was a shade off. By the time he provided a picture perfect corner serve and a hustle goal, it didn't matter.
FWD Eddie Johnson (7.5) – Filling in for Jozy Altidore, the Seattle hitman fared well playing his position by the book. Johnson could have scored with one sneak-through-the trees header before winning the game with another.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (7.5) – As usual, there were some line-up construction concerns that proved justified. Beyond that, however, there's nothing to complain about. The team operated as cool as cucumber ice cream, patiently waiting for the chance to grab the points.
RB Michael Parkhurst (6) – Brought on to keep things orderly, the right back did just that.
CM Mikkel Diskerud (7) – It's hard to say which touch was better, the feed that teed up Donovan for the capper or the visionary dink through the defense that gave Mix the space to execute his second international assist as a sub.
RW Graham Zusi (-) – As cameos go, it was a decent one.