Monday, June 23, 2008

Canada - St. Vincent player ratings

Allow me to explain why I've chosen to wait 3 days since the Canada - St. Vincent match to give my thoughts about player performances:
  1. I didn't get to see the match on Friday.
  2. I wasn't able to download it until Saturday.
  3. After the shocking performance by the Dutch (although given their history in big moments, it shouldn't have come as a surprise) on Saturday, I wasn't in the mood for soccer.
  4. With almost 60 days until our next match, I felt the need to pace myself.
The last thing I want to do is read too much into one televised performance against a Caribbean minnow. The Brazil match probably showed more about who in this team can deliver the goods against quality competition. But like I said, with almost two months until the next clash, I need something to talk about.

Rating scale: 0 - absolutely wretched to 10 - godlike

Pat Onstad - 6: Goalkeeper is probably the hardest position to judge in a match like this. On the Vincy Heat goal (that nickname is really growing on me) I felt he got caught in between positions, but there were a heap of things that went wrong on that play. He organizes the team well, but I don't have the same confidence in him as a shot-stopper that I would with Lars Hirschfeld.

Paul Stalteri - 6.5: I recall at least one play where Paul was beaten one-on-one, similar to how Robinho juked him in Seattle. But St. Vincent isn't Brazil, and that shouldn't happen. On the other hand, if they counted secondary assists like they do in hockey, Stalteri would have two (the first De Rosario goal and the second from Gerba).

Adrian Serioux - 7: Adrian #1 was given the job of man-marking St. Vincent's only decent player, Marlon James, and most of the time came out on top. He also has confidence bringing up the ball from the back which we haven't always seen from Canadian centre-halfs.

Adrian Cann - 5.5: Maybe I'm being too harsh, but Adrian #2 showed his inexperience on the goal. He underestimated how poor CONCACAF officiating really can be and then was slow on the re-start. He's a strong defender for the USL, but at age 27, it's unlikely he'll ever be as good as some of the other options. Which begs the question: Why didn't Hainault play?

Mike Klukowski - 8: My man-crush on this guy from the Brazil match hasn't entirely worn off. He seemed to do less attacking in this match, but maybe it only seemed that way because he played only the first half. His tackling was sure, and his marking excellent, and I feel like the left back job is his if he's healthy.

Jim Brennan - 6: The only sub to get a grade, because he also played 45 minutes. He lacks a certain "Klukowski"-ness, but he's serviceable. I actually liked him better in the final minutes when De Jong came on and took over the left back spot and Jim pushed up into midfield. That kind of versatility is what makes Brennan handy to have around.


Issey Nakajima-Farran - 7: I initially thought INF had a pretty poor match, but on further reflection it wasn't so bad. He scored a legit goal that was called back for offside, and made some other nice plays, working the counter-attack nicely on the final Gerba goal.

Atiba Hutchinson - 8: I remember a few years ago reading about any number of Canadian matches at the forum and noting the wildly divergent opinions about the performance of Daniel Imhof. Atiba's role in this match was similar to that of Daniel Imhof in those days, and he performed admirably. He blunted a lot of attacks, and was instrumental in starting the counter-attack, over and over. And his first half blast where Nakajima-Farran put home the rebound was nice as well.

Julian de Guzman - 8: Julian showed his class in this match without pushing it too much. It may be that he's still carrying an injury, or merely that he was in cruise control because he has so much quality, but he looked relaxed and supremely confident. He is the leader of this team and for good reason.

Dwayne de Rosario - 8.5: If they were counting goals and assists like they do in MLS, this would have been a 4-point night for Dwayne. The reason for his success in MLS, I feel, is that defenders give a lot of space to attacking players in that league, as did St. Vincent. He might not get that kind of space against Honduras or Mexico, but if either of those sides are pressing, he can be lethal on the counter.

Tomasz Radzinski - 6: He "assisted" on the De Rosario goals, but his tantrum that led to his yellow card was rather distressing sign of immaturity for one of the oldest players on the team. This is CONCACAF and calls won't go your way very often. I'll admit that his fit was likely the result of rough treatment the whole game that went unpunished. Our midfield is clearly the strength of this team, but there is room for improvement on the wings with Issey and Radzinski (Josh Simpson is an option).

Ali Gerba - 7.5: Scored two goals, missed plenty of other chances. Rob Friend is clearly my first choice, but I'm comfortable with Ali as a second option.

As you can see, the numbers get higher as you move from back to front on the pitch. I think Canada can have a solid back line in the next round of qualifying, but Stalteri may need to pull up his socks a bit, and Cann clearly isn't the answer alongside Serioux.

The pitch at Stade Saputo - 10: I can understand why the players all have boners for this surface. It was great, and looked a heck of a lot better than the trucked in surface Holland and Russia played on, or the patched-up field for Spain-Italy.

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By the by, take note of the new poll. Voting starts now and continues indefinitely.

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