The US national team got back to action with a 4-2 friendly loss to Belgium in Cleveland that was a tale of two halves, with several starters suffering on the report card after halftime.
There was plenty to be happy about in the first half, despite an away opener scored on what appeared to be a offside play. The US dutifully battled back, though never so much as to threaten to win the game.
US PLAYER RATINGS:
Tim Howard (8) - Although victimized by a napping backline (or missing offside flag, depending on who you ask), the Everton man was in top form. One half from Howard gets you sturdy punches, a nice save or two and a some nice anticipation off the line.
Geoff Cameron (6) - In addition to getting his first US goal, the right back keyed some dangerous first half rushes with positive passing. Cameron had a few minor labors on defense, however.
Omar Gonzalez (4.5) - It was largely a solid opening frame for the Galaxy star, but he suffered a couple of meltdown moments on goal leaks. Sometimes, Gonzo, you just need to boot it away.
Clarence Goodson (5) - A couple of hesitation incidents in defense cost the team. Goodson did, however, provide a lot of reliable ball movement in the first half.
DaMarcus Beasley (5.5) - The century cap man did a lot of good things on the night, with a majority in the attack half. Still, Beasley's relative backline inexperience saw him burned over the top on the last Belgium goal.
Jermaine Jones (4.5) - Like so many of the starters, the Schalke ace did some fine work before intermission. The predictable problem was that Jones too often left a swinging gate in front of the defense.
Sacha Kljestan (5) - After a shaky start, the Anderlecht midfielder settled to play a solid first half typical of his work for the Belgian champs. Kljestan's impact then sadly waned.
Graham Zusi (6) - The Sporting KC playmaker pitched in with loads of technique and hustle over the first 45 minutes before disappearing a bit. One particular early bit of back tracking likely saved a goal and his corner serve led to the Cameron goal.
Brad Davis (5.5) - Though not quite as effective as his opposite wing man, Davis worked a fairly professional half.
Clint Dempsey (6) - With Altidore and then Johnson fanning out wide a lot, Deuce often became the stranded one. Nevertheless, he found occasion to notch a textbook flick-on assist and a well-taken penalty goal.
Jozy Altidore (6) - Only a pair of fine defensive plays kept the US striker from snapping his international drought. Altidore is still not seeing the ball enough, but he managed to free Cameron for the goal by drawing two defenders and drop a couple dangerous crosses into the area.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (5.5) - The team played a decent brand of ball in the first half and were again burnt by individual goofs, but structural problems continue to be a big concern. For instance, asking Jones to essentially play as the lone defensive midfielder in an empty bucket formation against a team like Belgium is asking for trouble.
Let's not count off for second-half subs that had the USMNT looking confused until the last quarter-hour – call it friendly license, if you will.
Eddie Johnson (6.5) - There wasn't much to say about EJ for the first half hour of his shift, but he suddenly turned quite dangerous. Johnson eventually got loose to good effect, including the cross that drew Deuce's penalty kick.
Brad Guzan (5.5) - He could not be faulted on Belgium's first two second-half goals, but it's a good bet Guzan will think the third was stoppable. The Aston Villa backstop also got away with one uncharacteristic distribution flub.
Terrence Boyd (5) - It was a fairly quiet relief appearance for the Rapid Vienna goal shark, whose most notable play involved failing to move the ball clear just before Belgium's third.
Brad Evans (6) - The midfielder helped the team finish fairly strong. Plus, you have to love Evans for hustling so hard after a consolation goal in the waning moments of a friendly that he ends up headbutting the sign boards.
Matt Besler (5.5) - Again, the SKC defender was mostly solid with a sprinkle of worrying moments.
Stuart Holden (-) - Welcome back, cameo man.