It was a slightly better US national team performance against a marginally better tune-up opponent, but there is still plenty of cause for concern following Sunday's often untidy 2-1 win over Turkey at Red Bull Arena.
Typically, we talk about "a game of two halves" in terms of first and second. Always willing to be different, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann has parlayed some overtly questionable decision-making into a team that often looked ready for a nap in their own end, only to spring into action like cobras once they crossed midfield.
Tim Howard (6) - Despite all the confusion in front of him, the starter in net didn't have a great deal to do. Howard made a few saves, but also put Jermaine Jones in serious danger with an ill-advised short pass in the box.
Fabian Johnson (7) - Right off the bat, Johnson made a couple of plays in defense that could well be punished against, say, a World Cup "Group of Death" foe. After a brilliant run-and-finish on the short hop, though, the 'Gladbach recruit repeatedly menaced up the right flank for an hour.
Geoff Cameron (5) - It was a worrisome first half from the EPL right back-turned US central defender, and often because of simple communication issues. Cameron was considerably better after the break and cannot really be faulted for conceding a last-minute penalty guarding the line.
Matt Besler (4.5) - It was not a good shift for the Sporting KC defender, who managed to get beaten in a variety of ways. Besler was foiled over the top, caught out, betrayed by his pass and then pulled at the break.
Timothy Chandler (5) - Playing as an off-flank left back, Chandler unsurprisingly struggled for consistency. There were plenty of plus signs, such as his skill for jumping a passing lane and the lefty cross that was fumbled through for Clint Dempsey to score the winner. However, he is also far too lax in closing down opposing wingers in his corner and fell asleep in the 89th minute when he gifted possession to help Turkey get on the board. That last play simply cannot happen in Brazil.
Jermaine Jones (5) - As has become his USMNT norm, Jones ran hot and cold. Per usual, the bad midfield cop broke up several opposing moves with feeling. Of course, there was also an eighth minute fumble that could have proved fatal and several bad turnovers on what should be short and simple passes. For some reason, he seems to be more accurate with longer, firmer passing, and that is a considerable problem given his current role.
Michael Bradley (6.5) - After working a forceful opening period that included a delicious chipped assist that Johnson gobbled up, the midfield general uncharacteristically faded after intermission. Joining the crowd around him, Bradley also was charged with a particularly bad giveaway while Turkey were trying to get back in the game.
Graham Zusi (6) - The wide attacker started and closed his 69-minute outing with impact; his long diagonal ball to Julian Green was pure class. Then again, he did seem to vanish from the proceedings in the middle of his shift.
Brad Davis (6) - The Houston Dynamo ace had his flash moments and nearly every restart he serves is a big bother to the opposing defense. At the same time, there is a lot more work to be done by a wide man in this formation.
Clint Dempsey (6.5) - The Seattle star's movement was giving Turkey's backline absolute fits, which is an often subtle thing that might have gone unnoticed had he not been in the right place to capitalize on a defensive flub. Still, he can do more on the ball.
Jozy Altidore (6.5) - People need to chill with the frantic goal watch. Altidore had one waved off for a foul the intensity of a light peck on the cheek and another denied by a fingertip reaction save, which does actually occur to all other forwards on occasion. More importantly, the striker bulled his way around, opened up space to ramble and continued drawing dangerous free kicks. The goals will return if this all keeps up and everyone will forget the drought just like they did the last time the dam busted.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (4) - Since technically this is a game rating, the result (and the avoidance of obvious roster selection complaints) saves the boss' mark to a degree. Of course, this result does not matter. What matters is the fact that he's run off any notion of experience in defense and somewhat suddenly switched to a formation that appears ripe for dissecting by the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany. It took about 70 minutes for the team to show any sign of organization, likely because they had been drilled for nearly two years in a 4-2-3-1 that got the job done better than this.
Brad Guzan (7) - No offense to Howard at all, but is there one person even slightly worried about a scenario where the No. 1 is unable to start?
Kyle Beckerman (6.5) - The growing clamor for Beckerman to pair with Bradley may grow, even though the latter had a subpar second half. Beckerman came in to chew gum, guard the gate and move the ball safely. Long story short: He was all out of gum.
John Anthony Brooks (6.5) - The Hertha Berlin man absentmindedly helped allow a pair of good chances just after coming on, then turned ace air marshal once the visitors started shipping crosses.
Julian Green (4) - I hope this kid being charged with too much responsibility too soon doesn't mind constant questions about Landon Donovan when he is going unused in Brazil. Green's 73rd minute handling gaffe in his own end was a total no-no.
DeAndre Yedlin (6) - The young Seattle right back is showing that he can play more soundly in his own end, but he is clearly still learning on the job.
Mikkel Diskerud (6) - Mix tends to liven things up in attack. Though a bit starved for touches, Diskerud looks ready for a key bench role in Brazil.