World Cup: USMNT Player Ratings - Tim Howard, Julian Green nab high marks for overall tournament grades
Now that the dust has settled from the US national team's World Cup journey, it's time to pass out everyone's grades for the entire tournament as a whole.
As always, marks are handed out on a scale with "6" counting as average. Grades are also relative to time played, meaning a "7" for someone who played every minute in Brazil is more impressive than one given to a player that worked one half.
Tim Howard (8.5) - The Everton star was quite solid in the group phase, but turned superhero against Belgium, logging a World Cup record 16 saves. It would be harsh to more than marginally fault Howard on any of the goals against, and he saved plenty of team defense bacon in the tournament. In each match, he made at least one dazzling stop at a crucial moment, kicking off a flurry of hilarious Internet memes worldwide.
Fabian Johnson (5.5) - The fresh 'Gladbach capture really only shined brightly against Portugal, but for some odd reason the team never really utilized him as an attack engine the way observers came to expect in the Send-Off Series. Still, he managed to draw the corner kick that produced the Ghana winner. Johnson was largely solid defensively, but he was also partially culpable on two conceded goals. Participation in the late Portugal leak drops him below average.
DeAndre Yedlin (7.5) - It was a very impressive tourney for the Seattle right back, who made his first two World Cup appearances up the wing. Yedlin took part in the play that led to Clint Dempsey's late goal against Portugal, and all but rescued Klinsi and the boys with a tour de force emergency sub shift in the knockout match with Belgium. Of course, he never had to play much defense; the opponents were too busy chasing him down the flank in their end. In just 112 minutes, the hometown Sounder put 11 run-of-play crosses into the US hunting zone – the same number shipped by the other four players used as wide attackers in their combined 616 minutes of play.
Geoff Cameron (5.5) - The Stoke City handyman started with a strong outing and the Portugal nightmare at center back, before rallying with a good effort as midfield gate-keeper in the Round of 16. Overall, there is much to appreciate (such as 28 clearances and a team-high eight blocked shots), but Cameron simply made one large mistake too many for a passing grade.
Omar Gonzalez (7) - Though his best performance came in the least important of his three games, Gonzo gets bumped up a half-point for stepping into a hot seat midway through the tournament run. It wasn't all good – he failed to serve his sub purpose against Portugal and did not pressure Romelu Lukaku fast enough on Belgium's jailbreak winner – but the sheer volume of plays he made in 211 minutes speaks for itself. Gonzalez rang up 30 clearances and a few saving tackles, while also proving capable of facing up to some tricky dribblers at this level.
Matt Besler (7) - Though he had a relatively rough outing in the Belgium loss, Besler was among the main reasons the team advanced from a difficult group and his Portugal outing was top-notch. The local Sporting KC product repeatedly stepped up on attackers to lead the US in pass interceptions and sprang several successful offside traps to slow Germany. And though there were a few uncharacteristic bad passes, the center back provided excellent long balls in each game. If only he'd respected Lukaku's heft (or fouled him silly), there would be no aftertaste to what was a highly respectable World Cup debut.
John Anthony Brooks (7.5) - Though the Hertha Berlin prodigy played just 44 minutes in one game, he packed a lot of good into that World Cup debut. Most notably, he exercised the team's Ghana demon when the day could have ended a bummer. Not only did the three points pave way for advancement, but Brooks' corner kick header was the first USMNT set-piece strike at a World Cup since Italy's Christian Zaccardo diverted home a Bobby Convey restart in 2006 (a span of 631 tourney minutes). The youngster also made some plays worth noting at the back during his shift, but his big moment goal seems even bigger three matches later.
DaMarcus Beasley (7.5) - The wily veteran just got better and better and better as the US run progressed, culminating in a star showing against Belgium. Playing every left back minute, Beasley once and for all proved he could handle this job on this stage. He was a bit lax in the opener, but with the exception of laying off Cristiano Ronaldo's game-tying cross, he clamped down hard on anyone who came near the rest of the way. In addition to pushing the ball up his side well, Da Beas logged 15 clearances, 11 tackles and nine free kicks won in the US end.
Kyle Beckerman (7) - The Real Salt Lake midfielder was among the surprise standouts of the entire group phase. Beckerman kept it simple, leading all players who worked at least an hour in Brazil with a passing percentage just better than 90 percent. Though still occasionally prone to getting his pocket picked on the dribble, "Dreaded Thing Two" passionately protected the back line and allowed the other midfielders to get forward. Some doubted his place in the squad, but the 32-year-old made his boss look smart.
Jermaine Jones (8) - Also questioned as a starter, "Dreaded Thing One" matched Beckerman by making the most of his last shot at the big dance. Jones put in one of the very best-ever midfield performances by a US World Cup participant against Portugal, including a stunner of an equalizer from nothing just when realistic knockout ticket hopes seemed to be slipping away. In the Belgium game, he played the last hour of the contest on fumes and a sheer desire for one more game and could have easily booked the winning assist with a perfect knockdown near regulation time. While not terribly impressive from a statistical standpoint, Jones showed his worth with a bit of this, that and everything.
Michael Bradley (7) - Yes, the Ghana game was his worst in memory and errors one would not expect marred better showings in the other two group matches. However, Bradley was basically asked to do two jobs after Altidore went down. Despite not really being a suitable advanced playmaker at this level, the bald eagle soared over the final hour against Belgium, when one of his patented lobs into the box helped give the team one last chance. In all, the Toronto FC ace covered 54.7 kilometers (right about 34 miles) in four games, or about 2.5 (1.55 miles) more than any other player in the tournament. Of course, there was also that hurtful turnover late in the Portugal contest, but this space says many observers are being too harsh on the No. 4 shirt's efforts in Brazil. It can be easy to take a lot of things he does for granted.
Graham Zusi (5.5) - The winning assist against Ghana, which was both picture-perfect for an out-swinging corner kick and highly necessary, nudges his grade up to near passing. Zusi also notched a key helper against Portugal, but sadly that was his only completed cross from the run of play in Brazil. In addition to frequently vanishing from attack, the Sporting Kansas City playmaker was unusually spotty with track-back duties.
Alejandro Bedoya (5.5) - Like his opposite Zusi, the Nantes attacker produced less in the final third than was hoped before the tourney. At the same time, Bedoya was monstrous defensively in his three starts, including some helpful harassment that all but took Ronaldo and Dries Mertens out of their respective key games. In fact, Bedoya currently stands third among all tournament players in distance covered per minute played (behind Bradley and Chile's Marcelo Diaz).
Brad Davis (5) - Charged with an unenviable task against Germany, the Houston Dynamo set-up master received just 18 non-defensive touches and zero chances to strike a restart in 59 minutes of action. He cared well for the ball when he saw it, but there was not really much he could do in the circumstance.
Julian Green (9.5) - The kid comes off the bench in a do-or-die situation if there ever was one and for one purpose only, then meets the brief in one touch. Some may call his goal lucky, but that is just silly; the twice-attempted curl run made his fortune and he did not squander it on a horribly tricky finish. The only thing you could have asked of him would be to do it twice. He actually tried, with a winger grab bag of dribbles and entry feeds. So yeah... this next decade or so is going to be fun.
Clint Dempsey (7.5) - Like Bradley, Deuce was asked to do more than originally intended and out of his normal jurisdiction. Before taking the lead striker role from Altidore, he danced his way to the fastest US goal at any World Cup to put Ghana on their heels from the start. After taking it over, Dempsey managed to squeeze off 13 shots, with nine on target and one belly-roll goal. Though ignored by his teammates for long stretches on a few occasions, the US skipper stands second among all tournament forwards in ground covered through four games and his willingness to drop back into possession aided the team at important moments. The Seattle superstar also pitched in with 10 corner-kick clearances, six of them coming against Belgium. If he had just corralled the set-play restart in that overtime, it would be Clint for President in '16.
Jozy Altidore (-) - Ouch. If it matters, Altidore certainly looked willing to do some damage before leaving with an injury that arguably may have cost the team a quarterfinal berth or better.
Aron Jóhannsson (5) - Like Davis, the "Bacon substitute" was fairly starved for involvement in his lone appearance of the tournament. Jóhannsson handled the rock decently but without ever really helping to threaten in a game where the team spent most of his shift protecting a slim lead with a defensive shell.
Chris Wondolowski (4) - Oi vey. How tough do I need to be for failing to poach a Round-of-16 winner from seven yards when Wondo only played 51 tourney minutes and this was precisely the function we've repeatedly been to told he was brought to serve? Pretty tough, but it is worth mentioning that he was fine other than that and could have picked up a big assist had Dempsey completed the wizardly set-piece mentioned above.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (6.5) - And now we arrive at the most difficult rating to formulate, with layers upon layers of factors to weigh. On the down side, his wing choices offered only stray sparks until Green finally emerged (a problem that may never have been if he'd started Yedlin all along).
Nevertheless, the coach's subs had plenty of impact and the defense stood up quite well considering the volume of attack they faced. Training questions aside, one likely cannot ding Klinsi when troublesome injuries occur, but an overall World Cup grade means his selection fully comes back into play here. Some will scoff or even spit, but the lack of at least one of confident ideas man -- Landon Donovan or a back-up power forward -- hurt the team to the end, forcing the back to take the aforementioned heavy load under added pressure. The same might be said for sticking with three holding-type midfielders so long in the knockout match while Mix Diskerud whittled wood in the dugout. At times, the team played above the coaching decisions.
Klinsmann did accomplish a lot, even beyond reaching a Round-of-16 thriller. The US now plays out of the back, they now can own 54 percent of the ball against Belgium. Unfortunately, they often stalled in the attack end and left with perhaps a little less glory than they could have achieved. The program remains in "one to grow on" territory after his first World Cup as US boss, but with a sunny forecast (and some seasoned starlets) for the next cycle.