Well it wasn't the prettiest performance, but a win is a win is a win, and the U.S. needed the three points to have any hope of advancing to the knockout stages.
The starting U.S. line up looked like this:
The U.S. created chances but looked a tad sloppy. Freddy Adu, while creative, looked like he was getting pushed off the ball a little too much. I know he is not a big guy, but he is compact and quick. He held the ball too long and got stripped a little too frequently.
The lone goal was started with a bit of brilliant work and a lot of speed from Marvelle Wynn who blew by his defender and put a cross in. A poor clearance by the Japanese defense landed in front of Holden who put his foot well into the strike and scored the lone tally of the match.
The U.S. didn't look terrible, but against arguably the weakest opponent in the group, they didn't look all that great either. I know that Japan is an up and coming soccer nation and certainly earned the right to be in this tournament, but the U.S. has much better talent. They just don't seemed to have gelled all that well on the field. Peter Novak needs to do something to address that left back position or else the Dutch and Nigerians are going to pave a road to Guzan's doorstep right over Orozco. The risk of not having more defenders might prove costly. While I don't want it to happen, I need Guzan to have a slight injury, something to keep out for a couple of weeks, but not particularly bad, then Novak can call Frankie Hejduk to China. Normally Frankie plays right back, but he can play anywhere and Chris Seitz has proven he can play in the goal.
But I really don't want that to happen. Right now, I don't think Patrik Ianni would be any worse the Orozco.
The U.S. will play the Netherlands on Sunday (at O-dark early again). If the U.S. doesn't step up, getting to the Knockout rounds will be tough. The Dutch and Nigerian drew 0-0 so the U.S. has three points and sit atop the Group Standings. A win over the Dutch or Nigerians and they are into the next round, probably on the top of the group. Two draws and they will likely be second in the group.
Guzan--6. No mistakes, decent play, commanded the box. (On a personal note, the man should shave his head--at 24 years old he is already going bald. Do the Hahnemann/Friedel/Howard look--it seems to be the norm for American goalkeepers in England anyway)
Wynne--8. Nothing was getting by him and he made sure the Japanese attackers knew it. Solid bursts into attack.
Parkhurst--7. Quietly efficient, just like always.
Edu--7. For a man playing out of position, you would hardly know it.
Orozco--4. Unlike Edu, Orozco looks a little lost at left back. The right side of the Japanese attack might as well have had a red carpet for them.
Holden--8. Not only the goal, but generally making himself a nuisance for the opposing side, all over the place.
Bradely--5. For a guy who lit up the Eredivisie, I still don't see enough. I think he needs to be more involved in the attack and working with Freddy Adu in the attack.
Klejstan--6. Decent performance, but nothing stands out, good or bad.
Rodgers--6. See Klejstan.
Adu--6. Could have been 7, but I think teh bar is a little higher for him. I need more from him.
McBride--7. Clearly a solid choice for Novak. His experience is obvious and his contributions real. however, they seem wasted at times. He is brilliant with his back to goal, but needs someone to put the ball too and Adu wasn't it today.
Altidore--6. Surprised he didn't start, but decent performance.
Feilhaber--6. Short few minutes and seemed to work hard.
Szetela--5. Not his fault, but I probably would have brought him in sooner.