USA World Cup Group Stage Grades (Midfielders and Forwards)

The group stage of the 2010 World Cup is now over for the United States, and while the Yanks were three minutes from being eliminated, they will now advance to the knockout rounds. As the team prepares for Ghana on Saturday, TSB is grading each player on the team based on their performance in the group stages. Part One will look at the teams goalkeeper and defenders, and Part Two will look at the midfielders and forwards.

Midfielders:
Landon Donovan: A. He may not have the captain’s armband, but the US team clearly runs through Donovan, its best player. When the team needed someone to take over the match down 2-0 against Slovenia, Donovan obliged, scoring a wonder-goal early in the second half and then setting up the equalizer later with a perfect long ball (he would have had the assist on Maurice Edu’s game-winner as well, but we won’t get into that). Then, with the USA staring at an early exit after countless missed chances against Algeria, who else but Donovan popped up with an injury time goal. A more complete performance against Algeria, or a little magic against England would have garnered Donovan an A+, but he’s still a front-runner for US MVP at this point.
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Donovan’s stoppage-time goal puts Americans into knockout round (plus US player ratings)

donovan usa world cup

For 90 minutes, it looked like it was just not meant to be for the US national team in its must-win World Cup match against Algeria. Another slow start by the Yanks saw the Desert Foxes’ Rafik Djebbour hit the crossbar after six minutes, and although the Americans began to dominate the match, they could not find their much needed goal- or at least, a goal that would count.

The US once again had a goal disallowed, this time with Clint Dempsey’s tidy finish of a Herculez Gomez cross called offside in the 20th minute (the replays show Dempsey was even with the last defender). The US continued to push forward, but spurned chance after chance to score the winner. As the clock hit 90 minutes, the Americans were on the edge of a disastrous exit from South Africa.

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Slovenia player guarantees victory over the U.S.

landon donovan

Slovania’s midfielder Andrej Komac is quoted as saying “We will win this game. I have a good feeling.” Unfortunately for the United States, history is on Slovenia’s side. The U.S. is 3-10-3 against European teams in the group stage (0-2-2 in their last 4 games).

Slovenia is a small country, with a population the size of Houston, Texas. They gained independence in 1991 and won their first-ever World Cup game last Saturday against Algeria. Small country or not, any team that beats a team like Russia and qualifies out of Europe needs to be taken seriously.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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