USMNT Player Ratings: Poor finishing, spotty defense contribute to year-end loss in Austria
The US national team dropped its final game of 2013 in a spotty performance that belied what has been a fine year, falling 1-0 at Austria in Vienna on Tuesday to take home a wide variety of grades.
Despite a wide possession advantage and stretches of brisk ball movement, the US attack often seized up upon approaching the home area. Meanwhile, many of the players toward the back made multiple errors, some of which allowed Austria to grab the game's only goal.
GK Tim Howard (7) - It was another good show from the main man in goal, who looked comfy making four saves. Howard, who had slim to no chance on the goal, also enjoyed a nice distribution night.
RB Geoff Cameron (7) - Until the last few minutes of his 80 in the field, Cameron was among the US standouts. Tricky Stoke teammate Marko Arnautovic beat him once, but then spent most of the night working closer to the middle. Left alone for long stretches, Cameron aided the attack on several occasions. He could have had a pair of scrappy goals on another night ... or at least one with a spot kick earned.
CB Omar Gonzalez (5) - Gonzo did a lot of tidying up across the night, especially in the first half. However, some of it was cleaning his own mess and one painfully soft pass at the top of his area could have easily been fatal. There is still good and bad to sort through here.
CB John Brooks (5) - It was a rough first half for the youngster, most notably when he ghosted through the centering feed that ended up in the US net. Brooks, who does happily add a penetrating pass element, was much more in command after intermission.
LB DaMarcus Beasley (4) - In his effort to defend more like a wingback, Beasley seems to at least temporarily have given up raiding the opposite end. And on this night, the left-sider repeatedly fell apart in his own end during the first half. He was among the culpable on the Austria goal and his failure to come close to holding the line nearly cost the team just after the break.
CM Jermaine Jones (4) - It certainly wasn't for a lack of trying, but the Schalke man had a rather negative night. Jones was a turnover machine in the first half. He improved after halftime, but was pulled just after a reckless streak occurred.
CM Michael Bradley (7) - The AS Roma midfielder predictably held the metronome and his mid-range lobs into the box are becoming a pinpoint threat. Bradley also made a couple of key plays in the US box.
RM Alejandro Bedoya (6) - It was hard to tell if the team realized Bedoya was out there in the first half. The Nantes attacker eventually got himself into the game to do plenty of the little things, such as when his aerial challenge against two defenders earned Cameron a point blank shot on goal.
AM Aron Jóhannsson (5) - Aside from one shot from distance, it was quite the off night for Jóhannsson, who did not embrace the fuse-lighting aspect of his No. 10 role test. The AZ Alkmaar ace did not feed his wings, which only limited his space and facilitated turnovers.
LM Brek Shea (5) - Given a big start, the left winger made no impact of any kind in attack. His grade is partially rescued by the fact that he saw the ball less than four of the subs, including his own on 56 minutes.
F Jozy Altidore (6.5) - The striker was much more involved and aggressive than against Scotland, with both the visitors' best-conjured shot opportunity and their most troublesome cross from the flank. But despite battling well against rising star defender Aleksandar Dragovic, he wasn't quite able to find the back of the net.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (4) - This grade is not a result of the loss, be sure of that. Klinsi obviously wants to take time for making the Bradley-Jones holding tandem click, but this space will continue to warn it's not an ideal puzzle fit.
Pile on top of that, starting Jóhannsson in his least favorable spot while two playmakers sat on the bench -- we'll just hope such structural issues can be temporary. Oh, and please let's not fall too in love with all the short corners. It makes all the US set-piece threats lonely and no area of play can use more live reps on the road to a short tourney than restarts.
AM Mikkel Diskerud (6) - Mix was successful in moving the team around in attack, but not in his usual effective manners of slip passing and point-of-entry changes.
LM Eddie Johnson (5) - The Seattle forward was again set out on the wing and was rather timid for many of his 34 minutes. EJ got more involved near the end, but to no great effect.
CM Terrence Boyd (6.5) - Playing on his club's home field for European matches, the Rapid Vienna goal shark dove into the proceedings smelling chum. Boyd got a fair shot off, banged with everyone he could find and played a couple of troublesome flick-ons.
RM Sacha Kljestan (6) - Given a quarter-hour, Kljestan showed plenty of ball skills without ever cracking the Austria code.
RB Eric Lichaj (5.5) - The Nottingham Forest right back was largely successful in a short shift, but was almost beaten as last man on the final play of the game.
F Chris Wondolowski (-) - It was a really small cup of coffee for Wondo.