Most of the involved US national-teamers received positive marks after posting a 1-0 friendly win over Honduras on a stormy Saturday night in Miami that really wasn't as close as the final score indicated.
While facing a less-than-full-strength Catrachos side lowered the degree of difficulty some, the rain and wind balanced things out in that regard. For the most part, the US played encouraging soccer, even if the work remains in progress.
Tim Howard (8) - After he got away with bouncing a nerve-wracking free kick up the middle early, Howard bailed out a few of his defenders with good saves. The early stop on Jerry Bengtson's breakaway was huge. High praise for his handling of the wet ball on a windy night extends all the way up to that late, easily fixable oops.
Steve Cherundolo (7) - Other than a vacant spell during the opening half of the second period, it was all vintage Cherundolo. In addition, all but one of his restart serves were dangerous, some especially so.
Michael Orozco Fiscal (5) - He should have gone into the book early after losing his man and tugging the shirt, but he did cover for his partner a couple times. I still am not seeing why he's so insistently being played in this position.
Carlos Bocanegra (4) - This was not the captain's finest night. There were head-scratching turnover passes, marking no one on restarts and other assorted foibles you don't normally see from Bocanegra.
Timothy Chandler (6) - Some may scoff at this grade for being too low, but there were as many negatives as positives to discuss. On the plus side, despite constantly looking like he wished he was on his right foot, Chandler made more than enough menace in attack in an exciting variety of ways. His partnership with Brek Shea had to be terrifying to face. On the other hand, he almost fatefully kept Bengtson onside for the above mentioned chance, made two bad turnover passes and failed to track a couple of dangerous back post runners.
Kyle Beckerman (6) - Though largely invisible before the break, the Real Salt Lake man rallied to enjoy a fine second half. His simple and quick ball movement sparked several US rushes.
Maurice Edu (7.5) - Anyone not believing in his form recent revival at Rangers had to be converted on Saturday night. Other than a bad yellow-card tackle, Edu was usually in control of central park. He basically was doing two jobs in the first half, and it may have been the best overall ball movement outing of his international career this far.
Daniel Williams (6.5) - Give the Hoffenheim youngster credit — he did well while clearly out of element on his US debut. Though his instincts did tend to vanish when crossing midfield, Williams stayed cool when presented with chances to take a shot at goal or link in attack. Of course, this was a Honduras B+ side, so I'd not suggest keeping him out wide. His traffic footwork, disruption skills and toughness belong inside.
Clint Dempsey (7) - Until he scored near halftime, it was a rather Clark Kent-esque performance. After the goal, Dempsey had ditched the suit and glasses, and went about flying around the pitch. His second strike should have counted; he was already up and away before minimal hand contact with the statuesque Honduras defender.
Brek Shea (7) - Up until the FC Dallas ace slipped his way out of a sitter attempt, he was final ball precision away from winger perfection. He threatened wide and inside, put balls in the box and even tracked back dutifully. After the comedic miss (and a move to the right), Shea played like a guy who was embarrassed. Still, it was another night of growth encouragement overall.
Jozy Altidore (7) - Proving that a striker need not score to excel, Altidore started by running his socks off all night. He was a little too playful in his own end once and took a silly card, but otherwise was giving the Honduras defense fits of all manners.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (7) - There's really two things to talk about here. Though not bothered by the formation change, I 'm not wild about starting three players out of natural position. It had some negative effect and, of course, any balance lacking in Klinsmann's selection is by his own choice.
That being said, the most important things to take away from the game — much more important than the result — was that the US fully grabbed onto to a pair of major concepts for the regularly intended 4-3-3 system. They started playing their defense in the other end and they embraced positive play as policy. It was fun, it was often effective and it was more progress.
Oguchi Onyewu (6.5) - So ... is everyone enjoying the crow? If only he'd buried that rebound gimme, I could have really made the people who pronounced him done with the USMNT feel silly. If he's not starting against Ecuador next week, it'll be confounding.
DaMarcus Beasley (7) - It was so like old school Run DMB that I could almost hear Jam Master Jay dropping the beat. Sure, he rushed a gifted late chance, but Beasley more than showed he is still a viable member of this team.
Michael Bradley (6.5) - His entry brought nice anticipation and those smooth outlet passes we've come to expect.
Jonathan Spector (6) - It was a short shift, but Spector was positionally strong and got robbed of an assist for his perfect cross on the disallowed Dempsey header.
Juan Agudelo (-) - No grade Saturday night, but the New York Red Bulls starlet packed a lot of running and threatening pressure into eight minutes.