US Player Ratings: Yanks underwhelm in WCQ opener

Herculez Gomez

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The US national team opened CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with a "W" against Antigua and Barbuda in Tampa on Friday night, but the 3-1 result and the report card marks are a little underwhelming against a team many expected the Yanks to beat comfortably.

For long stretches, the home side lacked a cutting edge to match their dominant possession. Mistakes in their own end eventually proved costly, leaving the US with an opening victory that doubles as the bare acceptable minimum.

FULL LINEUPS AND BOX SCORE

Tim Howard (6) - The Everton 'keeper could put his feet up for most of the night.

Steve Cherundolo (6) - The veteran right back did well jumping into passing lanes and pushing up the flank, though he failed to make an impression in the attack.

Clarence Goodson (6) - The best US defensive play of the game was a big block in the box from the Brøndby captain. Beyond that, Goodson was largely untested and tidy with simple passes.

Carlos Bocanegra (7) - The captain shoved home a classic back post poach to give the US an early lead and nearly set up a goal after being switched to left back in the second half. Until shifting over, Bocanegra was very sharp defensively, albeit untested for long stretches.

José Francisco Torres (5.5) - It certainly wasn't a bad left back outing before the injury and he pushed up his wing well, it was partly the quality of opponent that afforded him that sort of ease. Torres eventually managed a couple of fine balls into the box, but also got away with a few instances of bad positionining.

Maurice Edu (5) - Aside from a fairly shocking turnover in his own end, the Rangers standout had a solid opening hour. In the late going, Edu played at least some part in two giveaways that were far worse.

Michael Bradley (6) - An all-purpose, steady performance. The team's lack of structure likely helped to stifle his opportunity to sheriff midfield, but he still did far more against a much better (if less motivated) Scotland team last week.

Jermaine Jones (5) - The Schalke midfielder also fell short of his Scotland show, and wasn't nearly as secure a presence in both halves of the field as Bradley.

Landon Donovan (6.5) - The Galaxy star won the penalty for the second US goal and asked plenty of questions with his service from set pieces, one of which eventually went into the net. Donovan also pushed the team into dangerous positions for much of the night. Still, there were too many passed up shots and participation in a terrible late giveaway that the US were lucky not to concede from.

Herculez Gomez (7) - The Mexican league king took a licking, kept on ticking and put the game away with a goal borne of persistence. Despite easily having the least touches among US starters, Gomez may have been the most difficult of the team to handle on the night.

Clint Dempsey (6.5) - Deuce was the attack's driving force in the first half and got his just reward from the spot. Like a few others, Dempsey seemed to tire toward the end.

OPTA Chalkboard: US struggles in final third

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (2) - Much of the blame for a disjointed effort goes to the coach's lineup choices. He was meant to be done experimenting, but three key players working from spots where he's never played them qualifies as such. What's more, he should be aware from all his time in the lab that an Edu-Jones-Bradley midfield trio does not have enough ideas to break down a packed defense. Not to pile on, but with injuries piling up, the two-a-day training sessions must now come under some scrutiny.

Subs:

Oguchi Onyewu (4) - Shortly after entering, an unnecessary lunge got him turned in an ugly way on the visitors' goal. After that, he helped deal with a couple of sticky situations.

Terrence Boyd (-) - The late sub seemed to leave his touch in the locker room.

Jozy Altidore (6.5) - Teeing up one prime chance with a clever cutback in 10 minutes of action earns the AZ striker a grade.