On CONCACAF Hexagonal opening day, US national team report cards reflect a bad performance in Honduras that seemed off from the start.
A green defense was disorganized while Carlos Bocanegra sat on the bench. Jurgen Klinsmann's charges clearly seemed content to let Honduras dictate the tempo and a slew of concentration mistakes followed.
Meanwhile, the attack was too rarely called upon by the midfield. Possession was never the plan, an odd strategy when heat, humidity and elevation were supposedly great concerns. All in all, the coach got it wrong and his players followed along.
US PLAYER RATINGS
Tim Howard (7) - The netminder was alert on a couple of first half shots. Some may partially fault him for the mishap on Honduras' winner, but he never should have been put in that situation.
Timothy Chandler (3.5) - The right back provided little support going forward and repeatedly made focus errors at the back, including a nutmeg sprinkling by Carlos Costly. Chandler's grade is "saved" somewhat by the fact that he was not to blame on either goal.
Omar Gonzalez (4) - Let's start with the good: Gonzo's line step-ups nabbed Honduras time and again. Now, the tough love: The most annoying errors are the one's you'd not expect him to make, such as rebound-watching with 10 to play in a tied game. Gonzalez also flubbed the late chance at a restart equalizer.
Geoff Cameron (3.5) - After getting away with losing the plot twice, the third time was Honduras' charm. Communication issues were another recurring theme. On the plus side, Cameron was one of the few US players to show some energy – it's too bad he didn't start in defensive midfield instead.
Fabian Johnson (4) - Like Chandler, the opposite fullback really only got forward to any effect once. Johnson was lackadaisical out to confront the crosser too many times, and later sagged off Jerry Bengtson far too much in allowing a prime shooting chance.
Daniel Williams (4) - The young midfielder was all too often missing on patrol, including a tribute to statues on the first Honduras goal. Williams was fairly tidy with the ball, mainly because he never attempted much of impact with it.
Jermaine Jones (5.5) - The Schalke man was another player showing some initiative, and it was largely positive in the first half. Jones' lob assist to Dempsey was perfectly weighted – he nearly got an average grade just for being the only guy willing to step out of the tactical funk in playmaking.
Michael Bradley (5) - This may have been the most anonymous US showing from the bald eagle in a couple of years. You normally don't expect him to be marked off for ball-watching, as he was on the first goal. Bradley certainly wasn't all bad, but he never managed to wrap his claws around the game.
Eddie Johnson (5.5) - The left-sider did some nice things in attack during the first half hour, then drifted out of the game, partially of his own doing. The run that paused a defender to allow Dempsey's clean shot and a fair dose of defensive help puts Johnson's grade near passing.
Clint Dempsey (6) - Though he didn't see the ball nearly enough, Deuce operated fairly well in build play when he had it. The goal could not have been taken any better and the run for it was nearly as good.
Jozy Altidore (5.5) - The striker was not on top form, but he worked a few decent moves when his teammates actually bothered to notice he was on the field. Altidore nearly made his own early breakaway with a swipe, but maybe should have beaten the defender to Johnson's cross near the half hour.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (3) - There were far too many silly mistakes by players for too much blame to go on the boss. However, it's also impossible to avoid the feeling that this result was facilitated by Klinsi's narrow approach to the game.
Not only was there precious little quality wide play, but the lazy game plan seemed to breed focus errors. Playing not to lose is just another way of not playing to win. Wasn't Klinsmann meant to bring us tactical confidence?
Sacha Kljestan (5) - The Anderlecht mainstay did have a few opportunities to put a stamp on the proceedings, but failed to do so.
Maurice Edu (6) - Relative to time played, the midfielder was among the cleanest US players on the day. He made a few nice defensive plays and moved the ball positively.
Graham Zusi (5.5) - Until the last-gasp corner serve, the Sporting KC playmaker made little impact.