What a difference a game makes, as several members of the US Under-23 national team will want to hide the report card after a distressing 2-0 loss to rude guests Canada in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying action on Saturday night.
The hosts generally ran play over the opening half hour, but then slowly came apart at the seams with several key players unable to ace their individual assignments against the Maple Leaf boys.
Bill Hamid (4.5) - Calm and cool before halftime, the D.C. United youngster went erratic after. Hamid flailed at the Canada opener, then rallied himself to keep his side in with a big stop ... and the he got frozen cross-watching, failing to attack the shooter on the capper.
Zarek Valentin (5) - Switching over to his natural right side, the Montreal man appeared content to play solid passenger again. No pun intended, the US could use a bit more impact out of Valentin, who seemingly shouldn't perform better feeding the flank from left back.
Ike Opara (4) - After a typical first half showing, the Earthquakes defender went haywire in the second frame. Repeatedly off balance and reaching, Opara flat lost both scorers with a mouthful of dust from it. I think he'd agree: That's not typical.
Perry Kitchen (4) - We're through two tourney matches and he's yet to convince as an international center back. Kitchen was dizzied by Canada's hard-working forwards.
Jorge Villafaña (5.5) - While the edges on his game are a little rough, it was a decent night for the left back. Villafaña didn't always complete the move, but the intention was there and his feet kept up.
Jared Jeffrey (4.5) - Clearly miscast against this opponent, Jeffrey began solidly with his smooth outlet game before gradually losing grip on the proceedings. One particular turnover pass in the US end was an absolute no-no from idea conception, but he fortunately got away with it. Still, it may have been the best "Canada pass" on the night. Ouch, eh?
Mikkel Diskerud (5.5) - All the switches and ball possession were still exemplary in effort, but he had too much heat with no proper midfield stopper behind him to make any magic.
Joe Corona (4.5) - The daring link wizardry seen against Cuba went missing, with much of his action over 45 minutes moving laterally. Against this physical opponent, it may have been better to swap his position with Freddy Adu's.
Freddy Adu (7) - Speaking of the playmaker, it's a wonder he didn't produce a goal. Aside from going closest to scoring with a deft one-timer, Adu was the author of most dangerous US serves. Though he faded out of the game during the middle half hour, that's not entirely his fault.
Brek Shea (5.5) - It wasn't always working, but the FC Dallas man just kept coming and coming and coming. For much of the night, Shea was the only US player forcing wide play to stretch Canada. The mark dips below average solely because he shot wide instead of squaring the ball for the onrushing horde when free in the box.
Teal Bunbury (4.5) - Again, the motor was chugging. Again, it needed a governor. Bunbury can't be so intent on turning and running; the simple touch and a firm, flat drop pass are usually quite acceptable with back to goal.
Coach Caleb Porter (3) - If he got the top mark for the Cuba showing, then it's only fair he take the most guff after this monkey wrench of a match. It's probably easily explainable, too. The team didn't remain patient on the ball, while Porter waited too long to change the dynamic with a line-up visibly suffering from midfield match-up problems.
Joseph Gyau (6) - For the second time in a row, the Hoffenheim wing apprentice hopped off the bench onto a galloping horse to poke and prod at the opposing defense. All Gyau's jousting again failed to knock anything over, but getting behind the defense isn't only good when it makes a perfect goal chance.
Terrence Boyd (4.5) - Less energetic than Bunbury, Boyd also failed to connect with the game plan. His grade matches the starter because he actually slowed down to play some hold-up touches when needed. He's capable of a lot more.
Amobi Okugo (5.5) - It took a few moments for the last sub to catch up to the game flow, and then he stood ground as expected.