US Player Ratings: Some positives, but no result vs. Ticos
It was a tale of two halves for the new-look United States, who excelled in the new style before reverting to bad habits in the 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on Friday night.
Running a set more similar to the target outlined in Claudio Reyna's new system guidebook than any we've seen since Bob Bradley's first game in charge, the US were in total command for most of the opening frame.
However, their failing to capitalize on domination was punished when the Yanks regressed into a less-daring posture. Out went wide threats, simple passing and play switches, and in came the setting for a wide defensive breakdown that proved fatal.
Tim Howard (7) - Though practically in a leisure chair for the first half, Timmy reminded why he's the man after the break. Sadly, his best stop of the night directly preceded a goal he had no chance to deny.
Timothy Chandler (4) - It was a shame he had little opportunity to rampage down the right, but it was not totally his fault. However, his overplay led to Costa Rica's first shot near the break and a shocking misplay sent the Ticos running after. Finally, he inexcusably failed to mark the rebound poacher.
Michael Orozco Fiscal (3.5) - Though quite tidy before intermission, the defender offered a list of reasons why he's being miscast as a starting right center back. Most notably, the No. 4 shirt managed to both underplay and overplay on the goal sequence. There were also issues on the ball.
Carlos Bocanegra (5) - A couple of bad moments at the back really spoiled an otherwise fine showing, most damningly his line slack on the goal play. However, Bocanegra was spotless until after the break, stepping high and even charging forward on the ball to lead the winger.
Edgar Castillo (4) - He had a decent first half positionally, but was never anything to write home about going forward. There were then some overt troubles at the back in the second stanza.
Maurice Edu (6) - Though he didn't look comfortable early and labored with a few touches, the Rangers stalwart settled in nicely as the game progressed and raised his level when Costa Rica finally showed up. Some may have moaned when his shot from distance went awry, but that's a very important one to take in order to tempt the center backs out.
José Francisco Torres (8) - Where was this guy against Slovenia, huh? Where do we even start? He controlled the time like a Swiss technician, dealt nearly every incisive ball the US offered, tested the keeper from above the box, guarded possession fiercely and made some important tackles. The only thing this performance lacked was the highlight reel moment.
Landon Donovan (5) - It just never quite clicked out there for the Galaxy star, who often wandered out of combo range from his striker. Donovan also twice shorted a teammate breaking into the area and his restarts were pedestrian. He often found occasion to make the defense back-pedal, but never punished it.
Robbie Rogers (4.5) - While he made a couple of nice defensive plays tracking back and served a couple of threatening balls, Rogers just didn't embrace his true winger self on the night. He failed to worm an effective relationship with Chandler and strayed inside far too often.
Brek Shea (6) - The FC Dallas man also eventually started floating inside, but he did spend about an hour in total stretching the defense with positioning. He caused a few episodes of danger, but could never quite make the big play.
Jozy Altidore (6.5) - He needed to see the ball (and Donovan) more, but it's already easy to see how good AZ schooling has been for the striker. On hold-up play alone, he looks a new man.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (6) - This is a tough grade to give because there was so much to enjoy in the first half; perhaps like watching the first day of construction in Rome. The mark dips below average because the side needed a boost and Klinsi only drew two subs from his holster. They were good changes, which helps beg the question: Why so few in your second friendly? Plenty of people will be steamed at the loss, but don't lose sight that there were several excellent indicators of progress tonight - and that's the mode the US are in right now. Changing your style is about steps and the Yanks took more than an acceptable amount overall.
Juan Agudelo (6.5) - Initially had trouble receiving opportunities to shine, so he decided to force his own. Agudelo displayed some nice hustle, skill and grit.
Sacha Kljestan (7) - All those lanes that seemed to have disappeared suddenly re-opened for business when the Anderlecht man entered the game. Kljestan also looked more decisive on the ball than he usually does in a US shirt.