Soccer Outsider: USA-Guatemala match diary, player ratings

July 8, 2013

B-team games can be interesting; we get to see players we haven’t seen in a while. Who among us has been watching Mix Diskerud at Rosenborg, Clarence Goodson at Brondby and Alejandro Bedoya at Helsinborg? And if you have: Get control of your life. It’s a beautiful world out there — stop searching for pirated feeds of Danish soccer and live your life! Form your opinions of players by watching a U.S. national team game and making snap judgements based on six touches of the ball. That’s what I do.

Here’s the lineup for Friday’s match against Guatemala, along with how much I want to see that player play on a scale of 1 to 10: Rimando (1) | Beasley (5), Goodson (6), Onyewu (10), Parkhurst (6) | Castillo (3), Beckerman (3), Torres (6), Donovan (8), Carona (7), Gomez (3). Basically, if I haven’t seen you play in a while, I’m eager to see how you’re doing. And if you went on to a long and successful career after D.C. United traded you for Jay Freaking Nolly, I really don’t want to be reminded that you exist.

Here’s kickoff from Qualcomm Stadium, which is perfect because as a D.C. United fan, I can’t get enough of soccer played in crumbling, multi-purpose venues built in the 1960’s.

5’ - The best soccer ad of the year has been made. The long cut has an Arsenal fan reacting to Theo Walcott. Perfect.

10’ - The Americans are just kind of kicking it around so far — there’s not much space out there. Is the field small? Are they on a futsal court? The goals look normal size but Nick Rimando is a small-ish ‘keeper so that might just be a perspective trick.

20’ - Goodson heads a corner on frame, and Beckerman can’t put away the rebound! Beckerman can’t quite break the dreadlock — um — DEADlock.

34’ – Guatemala hasn’t had a victory over the U.S. men since 1988. I guess they’re not counting that rec league match in Arlington in which I got nutmegged right in front of the entire expatriate population of Guatemala, who were standing on the sidelines. That was a victory of sorts.

37’ - The ref is really letting them play. Even illegally, which is lenient to say the least.

39’ - Donovan sends a volley just wide! Every beat writer in the country wants Landon to score; he’s a good story as long as he and Klinsmann have this Sam and Diane thing going.

41’ – Goal USA! It’s not Donovan – it’s Gomez, whose story is good (discovered in a rec league match) but isn’t current. That’s disappointing, Herculez;  you should have found some way to dish it off to Donovan.

Halftime: 1-0 USA. Stuart Holden is coming in, and I’m very eager to see how he’s playing. I’m a big Stuart Holden fan, and it’s not because he’s been unlucky, it’s not because I met him once at Union Station and he seemed like a good guy, and it’s not because playing summers in Houston and winters in Bolton is the worst weather luck since the Donner Party. I’m a Stuart Holden fan because he’s just good at soccer. He has that top-level vision and touch that you can’t teach.

49’ - Guatemala has mostly given up trying to win anything in the air; they’re never going to beat Onyewu or Goodson.

53’ - Donovan is pushed in the box! Will he take the penalty, or will the lesser sportswriters of America have to continue reading Herculez Gomez’s Wikipedia page?

54’ - Donovan will take it, and … GOAL! We have a 2-0 lead and a proper storyline!

60’ - Here come Wondolowski, Shea, and Bedoya, as well as a couple Guatemalan players. If you ever want to run onto the field at a soccer game, do it in the 60th minute of a friendly; it would take them a few minutes to realize you’re not supposed to be there.

66’ - The Americans are asking all the questions. And they’re difficult questions, like “where do babies come from?” and “why is Ke$ha famous?”

70’ – GOAL USA! Wondolowski with the finish! It’s his first goal for the national team; finally, a well-deserved moment in the sun for Chris Wondolo-

71’ – GOAL DONOVAN! Landon and Holden craft a beautiful goal, and Chris Wondolowski does a convincing job of looking happy for them.

76’ - Holden plays in Will Bruin, but Bruin can’t finish (because he’s not playing D.C. United).

81’ - 4-0, 81st minute…if this game was being broadcast on Univision there would be so many honey shots the game would be rated TV-MA.

84’ – GOAL! 5-0! Clarence Goodson with a header! I have nothing to say except “that happened”!

88’ – GOAL! 6-0! Alejandro Bedoya finishes a move that started with a volleyed, outside-of-the-foot through ball from Holden. Holden just strikes the ball well; it’s an invaluable skill. Watch Steven Gerrard; the guy has the mobility of a pregnant yak, but he’s still a weapon because he strikes the ball so cleanly.

Full time: 6-0 USA. On the balance, I’d say we were the better team. A lot of encouraging stuff but we’ll see if that continues when the competition gets tougher.

Player ratings:

Rimando: 5. Wasn’t threatened but did have moments of miscommunication with both Goodson and Onyewu. Defensive relationships are like romantic relationships: communication is key.

Beasley: 7. When did Damarcus Beasley get good? I mean for the second time.

Onyewu: 6. Bocanegra and Goodson just came back to MLS, but that doesn’t seem likely for Onyewu. I just hope he gets on the field; lately he’s been on the bench more than John Roberts.

Goodson: 6.5. His score – like Onyewu’s – would be higher if he had been given something to do.

Parkhurst: 4. On a night when the competition wasn’t tough, he had a few shaky moments. But he, too, hasn’t been playing for his club; I would expect some rust.

Castillo: 5. Josh Gatt is out due to injury, so the internet will surely be thrilled to hear that we’ll see more of Castillo.

Beckerman and Torres: 6. It seemed like they did well until we saw the second half, in which the midfield tandem was…

Holden and Diskerud: 8. My man-crush on Holden should not hide the fact that Diskerud was also good. Though they were playing a Guatemalan team that had stopped parking the bus and had begun mentally boarding it and driving to the airport..

Donovan: 7.5. As with several players, I’ll know more when I see him against better competition. Hopefully he’ll peak during the Gold Cup final.

Corona: 4.5. Corona didn’t mix well with the other attackers. It’s like liquor – don’t ever mix Corona with liquor.

Gomez: 6. I think we’ll see a lot of Gomez in the Gold Cup.

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Steven Goff · July 8, 2013