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June 23, 2010

U.S. puts up brave fight to advance

Carlisle By Jeff Carlisle

As they have throughout this tournament, the Americans put up a brave fight. This time they delivered a victory, with their 1-0 win putting them through to the knockout stage. Here's how each individual U.S. player performed.

The Grades

Player ratings:
(1-10; 10 = best)

United States

Tim Howard, goalkeeper, 6.5 -- He wasn't asked to do much, but did well to parry a shot from Karim Matmour in the 38th minute. He was solid with his distribution, and it was his long throw that eventually led to the game-winning goal.

Jonathan Bornstein, defense, 6 -- He repaid Bob Bradley's faith. His distribution wasn't the greatest early in the match, but he defended his left side well from start to finish.

Carlos Bocanegra, defense, 8 -- Was about the only guy keeping things together in the early going. Solid in the air and maintained excellent positioning. His vital clearance in the 63rd minute saved a goal.

Jay DeMerit, defense, 7 -- Survived a very shaky opening and recovered to be a force in the air and on the ground.

Steve Cherundolo, defense, 7.5 -- Aside from one early communication mix-up with DeMerit, he didn't put a foot wrong. His defending was solid and he was a constant menace getting forward.

Clint Dempsey, midfield, 7 -- Per usual, he didn't quit. On a different day, he could have had two goals. Only the closest of offside decisions prevented him from scoring in the first half. He did well to find spaces inside, and he was denied by Algerian keeper Rais M'Bolhi on a deflected effort. Dempsey was moved up top in the second half, and hit the post on a glorious chance. His hustle and shot on Altidore's cross kept the play alive for Donovan to score in stoppage time.

Maurice Edu, midfield, 6 -- Provided the physical presence the U.S. needed in the center of the park. Edu was tidy enough with his passing to keep the U.S. attack ticking.

Michael Bradley, midfield, 7.5 -- His late runs into the box created all kinds of problems for Algeria. Bradley could have had at least two assists but for some wayward finishing. He gave his usual herculean effort on the defensive side as well. His late pile-driver of a free kick forced a fine save from M'Bolhi.

Landon Donovan, midfield, 8 -- Continuing his fine run of form, Donovan was at the center of the Americans' best moves. He went off the boil a bit in the second half, but was in the right place at the right time to slot home the game winner.

Jozy Altidore, forward, 7 -- Did so much good work with some nice touches and powerful runs. He'll have regrets about his close-range miss in the first half, but his assist on the game winner was sublime.

Herculez Gomez, 6 -- Took up some good positions and was always available to help out defensively. Probably could have done better with a first-half shot that was saved by M'Bolhi, and it was a bit surprising to see him taken off at halftime.


Benny Feilhaber, forward, 6 -- Didn't have a massive impact early on, but looked much more comfortable once he moved into the center of midfield.

Edson Buddle, forward, 6 -- Nearly won the match with a point-blank header that was well-saved by M'Bolhi. Should have delivered a better pass on a deep run into the box late in the match.

DaMarcus Beasley, defense, 6 -- Defended well when thrust into a role as a left back late in the match.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPNsoccernet. He is also the author of "Soccer's Most Wanted II: The Top 10 Book of More Glorious Goals, Superb Saves and Fantastic Free-Kicks." He can be reached at