2014 World Cup / USMNT Player Ratings

World Cup player ratings: USA 2-1 Ghana

It is pretty amazing that even after scoring in the first minute, no team can live up to the tried and true cliché, “Play like it’s still 0-0.”

When he scored the fastest goal in US World Cup history, Clint Dempsey threw out the game plan not just for Ghana, but for his own side as well.

Throw in injuries to two of the most consistent American starters, and neither team — but especially the US — truly recovered from Dempsey’s shock opener until the beginning of the second half. By that point, Ghana was firmly on the front foot, and two US players with less than 10 caps a piece were thrust into the action, trying to help batten down the hatches.

A goal to the good, but with their psyche clearly fragile from the losses of Jozy Altidore and Matt Besler, the US performance was far less about team shape or meticulous coaching than it was about effort, heart, and a healthy helping of scrambling defense. And when it mattered the most, the players who anchor the American defense — Geoff Cameron, Tim Howard, Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, and John Brooks — rose to the occasion, leading the US to victory.

Player Ratings

Tim Howard – 6

Howard’s reading of the game kept the US alive as he was quick to fly off of his line whenever Ghana looked to slice behind the US defense.

Fabian Johnson – 5

When locked in a 1 v 1 assignment, Johnson did very well, but when asked to read the play and find runners, he struggled. Defended for approximately 99 of the 100 minutes against Ghana, hard to imagine that changes much against Ronaldo and Co. He gets an extra point not giving up on the play that resulted in Graham Zusi’s corner kick and John Brooks’ game winner.

Geoff Cameron – 7

Deserves a lot more credit than he gets for not just being versatile, but for being the best US player at multiple positions. Right now, Klinsmann needs him at center back and he has responded brilliantly.

Matt Besler – 5

Not sure where calm, cool and collected Matt Besler has gone. Should still be the starter against Portugal if his minor hamstring tweak allows it.

DaMarcus Beasley – 5

Sent out to defend the left flank, often by his lonesome, Beasley and his ankles that Christian Atsu broke struggled to get a foothold in the first half. In the second half with better communication with Jermaine Jones, Beasley turned in a much tighter performance, ending Atsu’s influence on the match.

Jermaine Jones – 8

Selfish Jermaine Jones is dead. Team-first, leave-it-all-on-the-pitch Jones remains. Long may he reign.

Michael Bradley – 3

The US won a World Cup match in which Bradley added little more than occasional defensive pressure. Ask any USMNT what would happen if “The General” had a nightmare performance at the World Cup, and each and every one would predict a devastating loss. If he can recover and play anywhere close to his best, Portugal is in for a long night. But if he turns in another 90 like this again, the Rocketpops are in big trouble.

Kyle Beckerman – 7

Played the kind of smart, simple game that the US needed in the center of the park. He may not have elite athleticism and pace, but he made up for it by being one of the most efficient players on the pitch.

Alejandro Bedoya – 6

Gave it his all on the right flank and was one of the few Americans who had the technique to match his work rate.

Clint Dempsey – 6

Got the US off to a flying start before having his nose nearly kicked into his brain. Showed plenty of guts and desire as he soldiered on, but was guilty of over-complicating things, trying back heels and flicks when simple passing would have sufficed.

Jozy Altidore – 6

Looked powerful and focused before a hamstring injury put his continued World Cup participation in jeopardy.


Aron Johannsson – 4

Asked to dive into the action, Johannsson labored to find his place in the match almost as much as his teammates struggled to get him the ball.

John Brooks – 8

Are you not entertained? In the span of 45 minutes, Brooks went from a hotly debated roster inclusion to a household name. The future is now.

Graham Zusi – 7

Replaced the tiring Bedoya with a much needed energetic spark. Provided the perfect ball for Brooks to bury the match-winner.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Was anyone else reminded of a certain MLS team when they watched Ghana? Fall asleep and give up an early goal. Dominate possession from there on in but don’t create great opportunities…

  2. 8 is a bit generous for Brooks . . . he scored the goal and blocked a shot, but he also made some bad plays in his box that provided chances for Ghana. Take away the goal and he’s probably a 5 so 7 tops for me

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      As far as I’m aware, he made precisely one bad play, which he himself cleaned up. He played through some immense nerves and made smart clearances late in the game, including blocking Essien’s header off a set piece.
      He won the game for the US after coming in at halftime and doing a pretty darn good job shutting down his side of the pitch.

  3. A 6 for Dempsey is just too low, especially when he was probably playing with a broken nose and his strike partner who was in over his head Yeah, he gave the ball away, but everyone on the team did.

    When you think about the performance of the centerbacks, there was very little activity directly in front of Howard. All three of them (and Beckerman) did a great job in keeping that area clear for Howard to claim balls.

  4. I’d deduct a point from Jones for leaving Beasley so consistently to fend for himself, even after it was abundantly clear that Ghana was targeting that side of the pitch. In the second half, focusing more on his defense, he was excellent.

    And MOTM to Brooks for stalwart defending under adverse conditions (in multiple respects) plus the game-winner, with Cameron a close second.

  5. “[Johannsson] to dive into the action.” Was this a pun? I counted at least three times when he went down way too easily, with little to no contact. To make things worse, two of them were during counters with high potential.
    I think Johannsson has been and can be good, but he looked like he was trying to match Brazil’s approach, apparently not realizing that there’s no way in hell we get those same generous calls.

  6. McMohansky says:

    Please stop rating players Eli. It makes the blood boil and the reading stop.

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