(Wednesday, May 28, 2008) -- The United States men were simply overmatched and outclassed by England, which recorded a 2-0 victory before 71,233 at Wembley Stadium outside London.
England dominated the midfield, while the strong, veteran English defense was little tested by a U.S. team that showed almost no attack.
The U.S. chances were dealt a severe blow by the absence of Landon Donovan, who was ruled out with a groin injury. Without Donovan's pace in the midfield, the American offense was left to midfielder DaMarcus Beasley making runs and attempts to play high balls to striker Eddie Johnson, which the England defense easily handled.
The U.S. midfield of Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, a surprisingly subdued Clint Dempsey and Beasley were simply no match for Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Owen Hargreaves and Frank Lampard. The Americans were back on their heels for most of the night and did little better when England coach Fabio Capello began substituting in the second half.
Except on rare occasions, the U.S. midfield could not make short passes linking with the forwards and the Americans created nothing dangerous until very late in the match.
The American defense actually did not play badly, but was put under constant pressure, not only by the speed of strikers Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney, but from the large number of dangerous free kicks given the English by foolish fouling.
The first England goal came off defender and captain John Terry's header off a Beckham free kick in the 38th minute. In the 59th minute, Gerrard made it 2-0 after the U.S. defense lost him as he came in from the left side left side with no U.S. midfielder in position to offer any help.
England was not overly impressive with its workmanlike performance at home against an overmatched opponent. It should have won by more and more easily.
As opposed to a number of U.S. victories over the past few months -- especially against Poland -- the Americans faced an opponent tonight with a full squad looking to impress its coach. The difference in quality was stark.
U.S. player ratings
Goalkeeper Tim Howard -- 4.5: Frankly, he looked a bit tired after a long English season. He did not react well to Terry's header that squeezed between him and the post for the first English goal. A sub-par effort.
Defender Heath Pearce - 5.5: Had some very strong moments and looks like he has taken the left side as his spot for at least the time being. Did not play much in the final weeks of the German season, so he was not really match fit, but he did give a good accounting for himself through most of the game.
Defender Carlos Bocanegra - 6: Was the best U.S. defender and probably the best player overall. Was solid on defense and, at times, pushed far forward, especially on set plays.
Defender Oguchi Onyewu - 5.5: Lack of speed seemed to be an issue. He lost contact with Gerrard on the second goal and simply could not catch him. Otherwise, he had a good night and was effective, as usual, in the air.
Defender Steve Cherundolo - 5.5: He had a tough assignment marking a Gerrard. Generally, he did well, showing good speed and the ability to recover as he was called on to help out all over the back-line.
Midfielder Ricardo Clark - 4.5: Was simply outclassed by the England midfield. Worked hard, but to little effect.
Midfielder Michael Bradley - 5: Early in the match, he pushed forward and maneuvered into a dangerous position on a couple of occasions. Otherwise, he did little and he too was overmatched by the more talented English midfield.
Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley -- 5.5: He clearly not sharp, having played only a pair of matches since missing half the season with injury for Glasgow Rangers. Still, he was the fastest American and tried to carry the attack, but was a marked man and took a pounding from the physical English defense.
Midfielder Clint Dempsey - 4.5: From time to time, he made good plays, but they were few and far between. He too looked tired after Fulham's emotionally draining battle to stay in the English Premier League.
Forward Josh Wolff - 4 He Simply had little to no impact on the match. The midfield was unable to get him the ball and he was equally unable to create much for himself.
Forward Eddie Johnson - 5: Offered tantalizing moments. At times, he was able to create openings, but then did little with them. He always shows potential, but did little to demonstrate he matured much from his time spent at Fulham.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan (46th minute for Howard) - 5.5: Turned in a solid effort, making a couple of strong saves, and commanded his area well while under more pressure than Howard was in the first half. He could do little with Gerrard's one-on-one goal.
Defender Frankie Hejduk (46th minute for Cherundolo) -- 5.5: The veteran showed he still has the ability to play at a high level. Played a strong defensive game and was able to get forward, especially late. A positive evening for him.
Midfielder Eddie Lewis (68th minute for Beasley) - 6: He is the type of winger who stays wide and serves the ball, rather then running at people. He did it well and presented England keeper David James with his most difficult moment of the match.
Forward Freddy Adu (68th minute for Wolff) - 5.5: Did well enough in his relatively short appearance to wonder what might have been if he had started instead of Wolff. Created a couple of good chances and had one good shot, one of only two on frame for the Americans.
Midfielder Maurice Edu (78th minute for Clark) - 5: Made a few good defensive plays, but otherwise had little effect on the match.
Forward Nate Jaqua (89th minute for Johnson) - no rating: A token appearance.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Carlos Bocanegra.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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