USMNT Player Ratings: Tim Howard the lone standout on a tough night in Cyprus
The US national team never really looked on the same page during Wednesday night's 2-0 friendly loss to Ukraine in Cyprus, but there are certainly some players who will be much more eager to hide the report card.
The USMNT played very much like the group still becoming acquainted that they are, and their opponents played very much like a group feeling increased spirit in honor of their country. With a handful of US players responsible for major errors in front of him, Tim Howard kept the result was closer than it could have been.
GK Tim Howard (8.5) - Faced with multiple Ukraine jailbreaks, the US 'keeper did well to pile up six saves. Howard also did an admirable handling the ball when put in a couple pressure situations.
RB Geoff Cameron (6.5) - The Stoke ace was both the team's least culpable and most involved defender, but it was not a spotless showing. Cameron did well on several occasions to penetrate the opposite corner down his flank and a couple of his serves were quite tempting.
CB Oguchi Onyewu (5) - The burly center back really only had two red marks, but both were significant. The veteran gets dinged more for the poor communication with his fresh-faced new partner and was then quite slow getting back into position on the second Ukraine goal. It's a pity, because aside from those two incidents, Gooch was fairly assertive in defense and offered some nice possession help.
CB John Anthony Brooks (2.5) - Here's hoping he does not read this; this is what they would call a repeat shocker, but hopefully the Hertha defender took his lessons. Hold up your arm while a breakaway goes by? Not at this level. Wildly pushing up while your central partner is already out of his usual position? Any decent pro player can punish you for that. Blindly back-head a high switch? Never, never, never again. You don't do that at the family reunion picnic game.
LB Edgar Castillo (3) - That could be it for Castillo's Brazil hopes. He had all kinds of issues dealing with the Ukraine runners. That, of course, is one thing – lazily neglecting to recover after your error caused a dangerous rush is less forgivable for a coach.
CM Jermaine Jones (5.5) - Though he significantly improved after halftime, Jones was ineffective before it, especially at holding the gate. It does say something that just after his removal, Ukraine scored by running up the gut.
CM Sacha Kljestan (3) - Oof. In easily his worst US performance as a central midfielder, Kljestan put in a real head-scratcher. His first half spacing made one wonder if he was the same midfield as Jones, but he corrected it well out of intermission. However, the Anderlecht mainstay did not manage much of time-keeping or playmaking in a startlingly low 40 touches, a few of which ended in troubling turnovers. This was more than a missed roster chase opportunity, it was a setback
CAM Clint Dempsey (6) - There were several signs that his "preseason" with Fulham was not a total waste. Dempsey often helped the struggling back by dropping deeper for the ball and showed some power moving into attack. Still, we're waiting for maximum Deuce to resurface.
RW Alejandro Bedoya (6) - The Nantes man took over set-piece duties for the night, delivering several good balls into the mix. Bedoya didn't quite make the right connections in the final third (though not for a lack of trying), but he made some key defensive helps on the backtrack.
LW Fabian Johnson (5.5) - Speaking of track-back wingers of note, Johnson has clearly learned what wide defenders need to do in those positions in his time at at Hoffenheim. He'd made three huge plays in defense by the 20th minute. What he did not do much of, however, was have a great impact in attack. After switching to wing back after the hour, the No. 23 shirt proved rather shy at guarding the line for a stranded 'keeper.
FWD Jozy Altidore (3.5) - Rendered invisible for most of the opening frame, the chance-starved Sunderland striker was too late getting up for the header on a golden look late in the half. After the break, Altidore mostly bumbled touches until departing late. While certainly not the end of the world, it was easily his worst US showing in a long while.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (5.5) - It says here we should not be overly critical of the boss for this one; a short camp, some set questions to answer, plenty of players barely having been introduced and an opponent playing with incredible spirit to honor their troubled nation. Perhaps there should have been more and earlier subs, but at most, one could gripe that his midfield set-up looked woefully ill-prepared.
LW Brek Shea (6) - The winger hopped off the bench with energy and entry passing, but there's no writing home about his final passes. It was still a positive outing, but could have been better.
FWD Aron Jóhannsson (6.5) - On for 27 minutes, the kid again showed his ability to cut loose with a sharp volley that had to be cleared off the Ukraine line on short notice. Also worth noting as we look to World Cup: The AZ star showed enhanced skills at dealing with the pressure that happens to the guy behind the striker.
CM Daniel Williams (6.5) - Like Shea, Williams threw off his warmups ready to play. The move to Reading has really suited the soon-to-be 25-year-old and he showed a small array of abilities in just 20 minutes.
FWD Juan Agudelo (-) - A mere cameo.