Not a moment too early, allow me to share the rest of my 2011 grades of every player to earn a senior cap for the U.S. men’s senior team this year. Links to lists one and two, featuring players whose last names start with the letters A-L, can be found at the end of the post.
Dax McCarty: B- – one cap, one start – After an impressive outing for the U.S. against Chile in January, it seemed possible the clever central midfielder might steal his way into Bob Bradley’s midfield pecking order. McCarty, however, struggled to adapt to life in a new midfield for DC United after moving from FC Dallas and was ultimately shipped to New York for Dwayne DeRosario midseason. It was a transitional year for McCarty – not a bad one, mind you, just one full of change and stagnant play. But hey, remember this?
Oguchi Onyewu: C+ – four caps, three starts – It was a mostly turbulent 2011 for the 62-times-capped man, as midyear was probably his low point for the U.S. since becoming a regular in 2005. A January loan to FC Twente yielded mixed results, and he showed so poorly in friendlies leading up to the Gold Cup that he was dropped from Bob Bradley’s rosters in the tournament entirely. Most of the talk at the time revolved around a real curiosity whether Gooch would ever get called in again. The last three or so months have been something of a renaissance for the giant center back as Sporting Lisbon has provided ample playing time – he’s repaid them with his best form since summer 2009. Two appearances for Jurgen Klinmann followed.
Michael Orozco-Fiscal: C- – three caps, three starts – You’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re hoping for a scathing takedown of the San Luis defender – I promise they won’t be hard to find. Simply put, it wasn’t a banner year for the former Philadelphia Union center back. He managed only 12 appearances in the Clausura and – even if a small measure of tabular data suggests he was better than we all gave him credit for – he wasn’t exactly convincing in his national team appearances. Only 25, we likely haven’t seen the last of him – here’s hoping better is to come.
Tim Ream: B – six caps, five starts – As these things often tend to go, Tim Ream’s 2011 will be remembered for unfair highs and lows created largely by the media and fans. That is to say, I don’t think he was ever quite as good as he was made out to be early in 2011, and certainly not as bad as he was made out to be toward year’s end. His year in a U.S. shirt was largely defined by two mistakes – giving a poor penalty against Panama in Gold Cup and losing his mark on Ecuador’s lone goal in October – and his year in a Red Bull kit is similarly defined. There were plenty of mistakes, sure, but it’s easy to forget he was done no favors by Hans Backe, who played him beside similarly-styled Rafa Marquez most of the season. Bottom line – he’s not ready, I don’t think, to start at LCB for the U.S., but he’s also not some lost cause too soft to ever cut it internationally.
Nick Rimando: A- – one cap, one start – It’d be hard to ask for much more from the diminutive Real Salt Lake backstop. He was his usual best XI self for RSL and held a clean sheet in the 45 minutes he featured for the stars and stripes. He’s likely never going to be the U.S. #1 – or the #2 for that matter – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a hell of a ‘keeper.
Robbie Rogers: C – five caps, two starts – Meh.
Brek Shea: B+ – eight caps, six starts – Poor Brek – it would be an A if not for a stumbling start to the year and a pesky not-so-good tail end. But what came in between was more than enough to land the FC Dallas winger onto the transfer wish list of several top European clubs and squarely into Jurgen Klinsmann’s #11 shirt – so I doubt he’ll complain. My favorite Brek Shea moment was his attempt to punish Torsten Frings for his handball on the line in the 2002 World Cup – or at least I like to think that’s what he was doing during this breathtaking run in July vs. Toronto.
Jonathan Spector: C – five caps, two starts – Well, say this for Jonathan Spector – it wasn’t just Bob Bradley the midfielder-cum-outside back-cum-midfielder was able to impress – Jurgen Klinsmann gave him two appearances as well. But, well, Spector won’t likely look back on 2011 with the affection he will with other years. He was a sometimes starter for the first half of the year for West Ham on their slow train to relegation and has spent the fall term on newly-relegated Birmingham (who is currently 15th in the Championship). His U.S. shifts were mostly uneventful and often underwhelming.
Jose Francisco Torres: B – three caps, three starts – El Gringo got a new lease on national team life when Bob Bradley, who had no place for the clever lefty, was canned and the more appreciative Jurgen Klinsmann was installed. He impressed in his three starts for the new manager before foot surgery prematurely ended his 2011 in September. I’ll be honest in saying I don’t get very many (re: any) Pachuca matches, but it seems the midfielder – who looked on his way out in January – mended his relationship with the club and returned to his usual place in the middle of Pachuca’s XI.
Anthony Wallace: C- – one cap – The athletic left back is brimming with promise – or speed, at least – but this was not the year for him. He failed to stake a regular spot in Colorado’s back four before injury cut his year short. He made one late, uneventful substitute appearance for Bob Bradley against Chile in January.
Daniel Williams: B – four caps, three starts – Really, I could just copy+paste Fabian Johnson’s write-up from a few weeks ago, as Williams followed a very similar path. He spent the first half of his year unused for Freiburg (though he was hurt for a large chunk of that) before a summer move to Hoffenheim afforded the holding midfielder regular Bundesliga minutes. His U.S. performances get an Incomplete, as he is yet to play in his preferred position in red, white and blue. He’s looked out of place on the right wing because, well, he is out of place on the right wing. He’s shown enough to encourage me, though, which is all that really matters for this silly little blog post.
Christ Wondolowski: B – five caps, two starts – It was the tale of two years for Wondo – or, perhaps better explained, the tale of two uniforms. In his San Jose shirt, Wondo was MLS’s second-leading scorer and the only thing worth watching for the Quakes this year beside Stephen Lenhart’s meltdowns. Wondolowski, however, has yet to look at home in a national team shirt, where he seldom found the game in his appearances and missed a sitter that would have brought the Yanks level against Panama in the Gold Cup group stages.
Marvell Wynne: B- – one cap, one start – It was another solid MLS campaign for Wynne, who played a speedy foil to the steady Drew Moor beside him. His Rapids qualified for the playoffs out of the Western Conference and almost made it out of group play in CONCACAF Champion’s League. He’s still way too raw and plays too little soccer to warrant any real consideration or praise, but he’s certainly good at being fast. His national team appearance was a pretty shoddy start against Chile in January during which his lost mark scored Chile’s goal.
David Yelldell: C+ – one cap – David Yelldell found out first hand what happens when you have one bad game for a top club – his four-goals-allowed start for Bayern Leverkusen in July was all the manager needed to see before benching the German-American, and he hasn’t seen the field since. Before that disaster, he enjoyed a nice campaign for Duisberg in the 2.Bundesliga – so nice, in fact, it led to being signed by Leverkusen. But, well, we’ve seen how well that’s gone so far. He made one appearance – his first, in fact – for the U.S. in an uneventful substitute appearance against Paraguay in March.