Gold Cup: US player ratings from Group C loss to Panama
These grades will leave some red faces after the US suffered a disjointed Gold Cup defeat to Panama in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday night.
The Americans stayed with the lineup that played so smoothly against Canada, only to have them perform out of rhythm for most of the night.
The 'Nats were most hampered by a passing game that constantly left receivers either lunging or slamming on the brakes for the touch. The attacking four interchanged freely, offering a new wrinkle and 17 shots fired, but they failed to pull this one out of the fire.
Tim Howard (5) - Though he made a decent initial stop, he probably wishes he'd have done better with the rebound on Panama's opener. Other than that, he had a tidy night.
Steve Cherundolo (5) - It's tough to be too critical when the right back provided a forward thrust all night, but his crosses were so repeatedly disappointing as to leave no choice. However, aside from one glaring misstep, his defensive work stood above the other back liners.
Clarence Goodson (4.5) - It was largely an atypical bumbler of a night for the Brøndby man. He was bested by Luis Tejada for the rebound goal and later got away with being sadly beaten over the top by him. Goodson is always a palpable menace on corner kicks, which resulted in a fine lunging goal and saves this grade from the muck.
Tim Ream (3.5) - Though he was better in the second half, Ream never looked fully comfortable. His penalty kick foul out by the edge of the box was truly one for the gag reel, he was exposed by a good cross before that and a couple of his soft clearances invited real danger.
Carlos Bocanegra (4) - Like his opposite, the captain did well to help the team move up field, but his crosses were poor. Bocanegra, however, compounded problems by getting caught up several times. Most notably, he completely lost track of initial shooter Felipe Baloy on the first Panama goal play.
Michael Bradley (6) - Until his flick set up the Goodson goal, it was mostly a nondescript showing from the midfield general. For the most part, he kept things moving and avoided mistakes, but he also fell short of putting an authoritative stamp on the game. That late missed shot in the area is one Bradley usually buries.
Jermaine Jones (4) - The Blackburn target started the game looking alert and aggressive, but he was soon just out of sorts. His flub on the ball facilitated the yellow-card foul that preceded Panama's opener. It never really got that much better from there.
Landon Donovan (5) - The last Bradley sentence also applies here for the run of play work from the No. 10, part of the reason being he again looked somewhat indecisive in the final third. Seven of Donovan's dozen danger restarts were useful — a percentage a bit lower than one should expect from a team's sole taker.
Clint Dempsey (5.5) - The ball just never quite fell right for Deuce in this game, but he kept plugging and was about the only 'Nat out there interested in the concept of switching direction of play. Dempsey was probably also the victim of a few bad non-calls. Instead of getting frustrated (like some of his teammates), the Fulham star stayed after it all night.
Juan Agudelo (4) - The New York Red Bulls prodigy was one of those frustrated 'Nats. When he wasn't dribbling head down and solo into traps, Agudelo was fumbling touches. To his credit, he did offer something by tracking back to make a few important defensive helps.
Jozy Altidore (5) - Some of his hold-up touches were extra clunky, but to be fair, he was often having the hell beat out of him. Jozy deserved a game-tying assist for his fine work on Chris Wondolowski's least favorite YouTube clip. By the end, he had teed up four shots for teammates with various methods.
Coach Bob Bradley (4) - Let's start with this: This guy did not lose his marker or mishit passes or do whatever that was Ream did on the penalty call. Nevertheless, Bradley could not hit his magic adjustment button this time and there should now be some lineup scrutiny.
Sacha Kljestan (5) - The sub was patient enough on the ball to look for ways to unlock the Panama defense, but perhaps a little too timid to choose one.
Alejandro Bedoya (5) - After getting caught for a dive in search of spot kick payback, the hot transfer topic quickly caught the team bug of missing that last level of crispness.
Chris Wondolowski (1) - Not to be harsh, but Wondo normally could have sneezed that one home.