U.S. player ratings against Mexico
Left back Edgar Castillo made U.S. fans long for the days of Jonathan Bornstein
Led by Brek Shea and Robbie Rogers, the substitutions made late impacts
Jurgen Klinsmann's joy will continue to be infectious during his tenure as coach
U.S. player ratings vs. Mexico (scale of 1-10):
GK, Tim Howard, 6 -- Not very much to do for the U.S. No. 1. Heck, he could have made a couple more of those Allstate commercials with all the idle time back there. No fault on Mexico's goal and sure-handed on all the little stuff. Howard could be seen trying to encourage young Edgar Castillo here and there, and that's always nice to see for the man who is so vital to everything happening around the U.S. program.
D, Steve Cherundolo, 4 -- He's been better, and he'll be better again, but he looked painfully rusty in this one. That's not surprising considering his inactivity with Hannover; he's still recovering from that Gold Cup injury. His passing and dribbling was sluggish, he didn't get forward much other than a 10-15 minute spell late in the first half, and he got into some silliness with two or three Mexican players at one point. He couldn't even get forward enough to exploit the usual prescient link that he typically enjoys with Donovan.
D, Carlos Bocanegra, 7 -- Easily the best U.S. defender, with steely concentration, good timing in the tackle and more than a few critical interventions. The man with the captain's armband nearly turned huge hero with his header from eight yards off a corner kick, forcing a credible save from Guillermo Ochoa.
D, Michael Orozco Fiscal, 5 -- How happy was he that Javier Hernandez wasn't buzzing around to really complicate things? Fiscal, back in the U.S. fold for now, wasn't bad while earning his second U.S. cap -- but probably needed to do a little more to displace guys like Clarence Goodson and Tim Ream in the center back pecking order. He was too aggressive early, fouling once unnecessarily in a bad spot; that propensity for ill-advised infractions was always a knock on him at Philadelphia last year. Fiscal's clearances lacked authority, which caused an issue here and there.
D, Edgar Castillo, 2 -- Is it really possible that someone could have such a shockingly distressed night that U.S. supporters would actually long for the "good ol' days" of Jonathan Bornstein? So much went wrong, it's hard to know where to start. Let's see, jittery passing, splotchy dribbling, faulty positioning, lack of aggression in getting forward. He "hid" too often when Bocanegra needed a left-sided outlet. One ball pinged off his head for a corner, and shortly thereafter he actually whiffed on a clearance. Oooof!
M, Jermaine Jones, 4 -- There was so much hope and promise when Jones spurned any lingering chances at lining up for Germany and chose to don the red, white and blue. But too many of his nights for the United States are wholly underwhelming, and this was yet another one. He passing was unimaginative and imprecise while his defensive work was nothing special. He was easily the worst of the three U.S. central midfielders.
M, Kyle Beckerman, 6 -- The Real Salt Lake man made good on his chance to elbow his way into the established central midfield order. Jurgen Klinsmann trusted Beckerman to be the holding anchor in a 4-1-4-1 (well, maybe it was supposed to be a 4-3-3, but if we're being honest ... ). His tackling was sharp and precise. His distribution was simple and mostly unbothered, although he needed to move the ball just a little faster here and there. Beckerman did seem to tire and, by the 75th, was struggling a bit to keep up with the game and remain in good defensive spots.
M, Landon Donovan, 7 -- Played on the right in Klinsmann's first arrangement and was the most consistent offensive performer through the night. That's saying something since he also tracked back willingly to assist with Mexican left back Carlos Salcido, who was determined to get forward more than any fullback in North America on this night. Donovan's signature bursts of speed kicked up plenty of trouble, as when he probably earned a penalty in the 77th minute (one that went uncalled).
M, Michael Bradley, 6 -- Not a bad night considering he was slightly out of his element as a more advanced central midfielder, playing alongside Jones and ahead of Beckerman. In all honesty, he's not the answer as a creative force in central areas, a solid passer but not one blessed with an artist's eye. That said, he was in the passing sequence on almost every successful U.S. offensive thrust. It was Bradley who was beaten by Oribe Peralta for Mexico's goal, but it wasn't a horrible defensive indiscretion. His solid body of work around the field atoned.
M, Jose Torres, 4 -- Maybe he'll get another chance, perhaps in a role closer to the inside rather than out wide left as Wednesday. But the chances will dwindle quickly if he can't show more than he did Wednesday. Torres, unseen in the U.S. shirt since last summer in South Africa, was more or less unseen over the first 20 minutes. He found more action later in the first half and was slightly more effective when shifted into the middle at about the 60th minute. But his defensive inattention and lack of versatility will be limiting going forward. So will those instincts to always play at a slow-build pace, something that doesn't fly against teams that press aggressively and something that frustrates teammates who want to move the ball quicker.
F, Edson Buddle, 3 -- Count him among the men for whom this was more or less an audition. Only, he didn't seem to get it. Klinsmann isn't just looking for technical ability; he's looking for desire and willingness to find a way. So Buddle, a lone striker, needed to fight more for balls nearby, maybe shake something loose off a turnover. He needed to make that extra run. Yes, he was stranded as that lone forward, with no natural connection to Jones, Torres or Donovan. Still, that's all the more reason to bust his butt every time a ball did come near.
F, Juan Agudelo, 6 -- Upon his 59th-minute introduction for Buddle, the Red Bulls' youngster immediately began putting Mexican defenders under more pressure than the man he replaced. Agudelo earned a penalty appeal, although the Jamaican referee was probably right to deny that one. And Agudelo was involved in the goal, putting Brek Shea through to the byline with a quick touch. All in all, Agudelo did nothing to hurt his stock in Klinsmann's eyes.
M, Brek Shea, 7 -- The FC Dallas man made a big impression after entering in the 59th minute for the muted Jones. He soon stretched those long legs to wiggle free and provide Robbie Rogers with the easiest of tap-ins on the U.S. goal. Overall, he certainly enlivened a distressingly staid left side with aggressive running off the ball. One of those runs put Shea through for a great chance in the 82nd, forcing a nice save off Ochoa.
M, Robbie Rogers, 6 -- Well, it wasn't a tough finish, but so what? Scoring a goal always counts. He tucked in Shea's cross and later drew a red card when dragged down by Gerardo Torrado. Well, it should have been a red; the only man in the greater Philadelphia area who didn't seem to think so was Jamaican referee Raymond Bogle.
M, Ricardo Clark, 5 -- Got a big smile and pat on the back from Klinsmann as he entered in the 84th for Torres, his first U.S. appearance since getting yanked after one half in the loss to Ghana during last year's World Cup. So it must have been super-special when he played Rogers through on that controversial play. Later, Clark got a little ambitious in the offensive third, probably not making the wisest of choices with the Mexicans on their heels. Still, not a bad few minutes for Clark as he tries to squeeze back into the A-team pool.
Jurgen Klinsmann -- Bitter border rivalry or no, this one was obviously all about Herr Klinsmann. He surely won over a few more fans hours before kickoff with the announcement of old-school jerseys, numbered 1-11 and sans surnames. Very cool. The choice to use Torres out wide didn't work out. Nor did Castillo's assignment at left back -- proving that no amount of Klinsi magic, apparently, can solve a left fullback headache that just won't quit. Those second-half introductions and personnel shifts proved useful, although they fairly were obvious moves. Klinsmann kept a smile through it all, and that joy will surely continue to be infectious and possibly quite useful.