Player ratings from the U.S. team's 1-0 win over Algeria (scale of 1-10):
GK, Tim Howard, 7: Not a bunch to do in his quietest night yet in South Africa. Like in the first two matches here, he was always taking the safer option with this flaky ball, punching and deflecting rather than gambling with the catch on anything zippy. He was sure-handed whenever called upon. Calmly talked World Cup debutante Jonathan Bornstein through some situations. Howard deserves some credit on the historic goal; his rapid distribution and big throw out to Landon Donovan set the 4-on-2 sequence into motion.
D, Steve Cherundolo, 8: For the third consecutive match, one of the best players in a U.S. shirt. Busier in the first half when he had four crosses, including three in useful spots. His second-half cross to Edson Buddle in front of goal in the 67th was actually from the left, which says a lot about commitment and effort for the starting right back. Imagine, at this time last year some people wanted to see Jonathan Spector rather than the German league vet. Cherundolo did have his first truly bad moment of the tourney, flailing at one early ball that could have turned to disaster.
D, Jay DeMerit, 6: Another purposeful, blue-collar night of winning more than his share of challenges -- after an early mistake, anyway. It surely was a bad one, as he nearly was responsible for yet another early goal against the Americans. Generally had good positioning on crosses, and tracked runners as if his life depended on it.
D, Carlos Bocanegra, 7: Coach Bob Bradley opted for a big change in the back (replacing the struggling Oguchi Onyewu) and Bocanegra made the coach look good for it. The U.S. back-line organization looked night-and-day better with Bocanegra acting as traffic cop. He had a nice, quiet first half, preferring DeMerit do most of the man-marking while he adopted more of a covering role. Bocanegra had more to do after the break but never really put a foot wrong. Astute positioning meant he rarely had to stretch himself, although he did contribute one huge intervention in front of the U.S. goal in the 63rd minute.
D, Jonathan Bornstein, 5: Mostly nice and safe in his World Cup debut -- making that first start against Algeria rather than England or even Slovenia surely helped. He snuffed a couple of crosses but was sucked out position once in the first half, subsequently bailed out by an iffy offside decision. Not much of a contribution on the offensive end, which is a little disappointing, but caution was probably the better course. Needed to fight just a little harder for a couple of balls in the air.
M, Landon Donovan, 8: Where would this team be without him? The man keeps finding ways to get it done, supplying one of the most important goals in U.S. Soccer history. He was the U.S. danger man from the start, stalking, lurking, pushed up high on the right. His best moment before intermission was picking out a charging Clint Dempsey with a wonderful ball. He was strangely quiet for about 30 minutes of the second half, but even then he was still the best U.S. passer.
M, Maurice Edu, 6: Making his first World Cup start, he usually sat deeper than Michael Bradley. Edu's passing over distance lacked a lot, but his short and medium work was fine, as he had a fairly useful and effective night otherwise. He won a lot of little battles for possession, helping his side retain more of the ball. Did have one or two giveaways in unfortunate spots, although never in a terrible spot. Left in the 65th as the U.S. looked to add offensive muscle.
M, Michael Bradley, 6: Managed the match from his midfield spot and popped up in some good places in the final third throughout the evening. Otherwise, it was an unremarkable night. He appeared to tire after about 75 minutes, but still won an important tackle here and there. His passing needed to be better in spots, as it sometimes lacked some needed zip. Had one nice shot to force a solid save in the 79th off a restart.
M, Clint Dempsey, 6: He ran at the Algerian defense some, although often without any sort of punctuation mark. Spent a lot of the night on the ground, on the business end of some penalty area rough stuff. Started on the left, as usual, but moved around some trying to find the way through. He joined the long range shooting gallery a couple of times and may have opened the scoring with his far-post tuck-away, the one ruled offside. His great little touch shot in the 57th minute nearly delivered the goods, although he needed to be better with the rebound on that same sequence. It was his effort at Altidore's ball across goal that caused the Algerian 'keeper to spill conveniently for Donovan in stoppage time.
F, Herculez Gomez, 6: His work up front was just OK, but his effort to chase the game and cover ground for others was a master class in a respectable World Cup starting debut. Gomez forced one early first-half save, but surely should have scored from point blank range on the bang-bang sequence that ended with Dempsey's nullified goal.
F, Jozy Altidore, 7: If FIFA gave an award for drawing opposition yellow cards, the young striker would surely be running away with it in South Africa. He was responsible for three Algerian bookings, and that makes five for the tournament. There were times when he tore up the Algerian defense with his speed and bravery on the turn. He made a good choice on the game-winner; Altidore could have shot or cut the ball back to Donovan. As it turned out, he made the right call with the ball across goal. His contribution was fitting for a man who has done so much for his country over two matches.
M, Benny Feilhaber, 6: Bob Bradley's utility knife once again, playing on the left initially and then moving inside to inherit Edu's spot. As a central player, not recognizable either way, for much good or bad. Quietly effective.
M, Edson Buddle, 5: Entered for Edu in the 65th and didn't need time to work into the game, running at the Algerians with his first touch and then nearly settling matters with a header two minutes later. Fairly contained from there, however.
M, DaMarcus Beasley, 5: Came in late for Bornstein as a left back as Bob Bradley probed for yet another way to get the goal. Cautioned for an intentional handball inside the Algerian penalty area.