It was another offensive letdown for the US national team on Tuesday night, as they were unable to play up the right as they were up the left in a 1-0 friendly loss to Ecuador.
With the mischievous duo of Timothy Chandler and Brek Shea tilting the field at will, the US left side looked like running downhill. As prototype central midfielder Danny Williams was again miscast in a wide attacking role, the right flank seemed to be working uphill at all times.
The imbalance dulled long stretches of home dominance by the starting lineup, leaving Ecuador the opportunity to take advantage of subs for a late winner. Unfortunately, they obliged. Here are the player ratings for the USMNT:
Tim Howard (6) - It's always tough when a goalkeeper has little to do for 80 minutes and then suddenly needs to deal with a top chance. Howard reacted a little slowly on the winning header, but it would hard to fault him too much for it ending up in the net.
Steve Cherundolo (5) - It was a rather vanilla half from the Hannover 96 skipper going forward. Cherundolo was oddly eager to go along with negative play down his flank. He also had a couple of hairy moments at the back dealing with pace.
Oguchi Onyewu (8) - If you still have any doubts that Gooch is fully back as the clear starting right center back, please see a physician. No longer content just to play Godzilla at the back, Onyewu spent much of the final 20 minutes up the field ably and calmly helping in attack. The one time he booted out of the back, it was an inch-perfect long pass.
Carlos Bocanegra (6.5) - It was a rally performance from the captain, who had a very strange outing against Honduras. Bocanegra was solid as can be.
Timothy Chandler (7) - The first 45 minutes was his cleanest half at left back for the US, and he wasn't much worse after the break. He's still much better on the right, but Chandler is now showing real improvement on his off wing.
Kyle Beckerman (4) - It was a step back for the midfielder, who played much more negatively than he had on Saturday. Beckerman also lingered on the ball in his own end a couple times and offered too little resistance at key times.
Daniel Williams (4.5) - It's rather unfair to grade him, as he clearly is not a wide, attack-minded midfielder. In the 23rd minute, Williams found himself faced up to a lone defender on the side of the area with four teammates prowling the goalmouth. He quickly turned back looking for a drop pass, the US turned it over and Ecuador had a break. To steal from Arrested Development's George Bluth: And that's why you don't play defensive players as attackers.
Maurice Edu (5.5) - To an extent, the last Williams line applies here. However, Mo is a good bit more comfortable than that player and he generally moved things along more ably. Still, he was a clear shade or two off from Saturday.
Brek Shea (6.5) - Once again, the FC Dallas man was terrifying in approach, and once again he was often less than precise at the moments of truth. It often goes unnoticed, but Shea also positionally covers very well for a raiding left back.
Clint Dempsey (7) - Deuce always looked like he was poised to crack the game open, but never quite clicked the right combination. That being said, he has quickly bought into the idea of playing as the central playmaker behind the striker and got teammates involved.
Jozy Altidore (6) - Often left with too much to do alone, Altidore made several plays when the team was threatening that showed his growth at AZ Alkmaar. Now, instead of merely playing standard hold-up touches, he can also turn and release the winger expertly. If only he could get more service.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (4.5) - The result is not an issue here and the team held the game's reins before the halftime subs. However, the field imbalance problem from Saturday was repeated and never corrected. Simple mistakes like this can ruin all the good work done to create a positive playing attitude.
Jonathan Spector (3) - It was a rough outing for the Birmingham City handyman, who allowed the cross in for the Ecuador winner. Spector also squandered a couple of prime crossing opportunities and had a few other assorted mishaps.
Michael Bradley (5) - The traffic direction was there, but he provided no big plays off then bench. Bradley's dead-ball service started off well, then gradually regressed.
DaMarcus Beasley (5) - Run DMB provided some immediate jump. He eventually drifted too far inside, losing impact and leaving the left wing empty.
Juan Agudelo (5) - The youngster annoyingly buzzed around, as usual, yet never grabbed hold of the game.
Edson Buddle (4.5) - The Ingolstadt striker seemed to be with the program, but was unable to conjure any plays given a few workable attack situations.
Tim Ream (2) - The Red Bulls defender completely lost his man on the goal and also looked shaky on the ball.