By Paul Kennedy
The USA's 4-3 win over Germany was one of those rare games where you can take away as many positives as negatives. Jozy Altidore had perhaps his greatest game ever with the national team, and Clint Dempsey scored two wonderfully taken goals as the USA matched its goal output for its first five games of the year. But what do you say about a defense that looks so shaky?
In two weeks, we'll know what all this means. Will the USA play with purpose and show the attacking spark it demonstrated all afternoon at RFK in the upcoming qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras? Or will it sleepwalk through the upcoming Hexagonal matches as it has so often done in qualifying? And will the USA pay dearly for its defense's frailties or will they continue, as is more likely, go unexposed against the lesser opposition it will face over the next three games?
In the meantime, here's what's to remember from a remarkable U.S. Soccer 100th birthday bash ...
GREAT GAMES FROM FRONT FIVE. The easy thing to say is that Altidore (with his first goal since the 2011 Gold Cup against Guadeloupe) and Dempsey (now second on the all-time U.S. scoring list) were the difference, but there were many players who contributed to the U.S. win. The Jermaine Jones-Michael Bradley combo had its best game ever. Bradley's composure on the ball allowed the USA to control play for long stretches of the game in midfield, while Jones added bite to the attack. Graham Zusi showed why Jurgen Klinsmann believes he doesn't need Landon Donovan, hitting a perfectly placed ball -- the kind that made Donovan so special -- to set up Altidore's opener.
EVANS IMPRESSES AT RIGHT BACK. Brad Evans at right back? The big surprise in the U.S. lineup was the presence of the Seattle Sounders midfielder at right back in place of Geoff Cameron, making him the fourth player to start there in the last six matches, and it turned out to be the one positive you could take away from an otherwise very shaky performance from the U.S. backline. Evans played with composure and made good touches for a performance that should signal the end of the Cameron experiment at right back.
MORE HORRIBLE DEFENDING. The seven goals the USA has allowed in last two games are only the third time in the last 40 years it allowed that many goals in consecutive games. The other times came in 1990 (2-1 friendly lose to Switzerland and 5-1 loss to Czechoslovakia in World Cup) and 2007 (4-1 loss to Argentina and 3-1 loss to Paraguay with "B" team at Copa America). Omar Gonzalez was supposed to be the answer for the USA in the middle of the defense, but he had another brain-freeze, losing Heiko Westermann on Germany's first goal. Matt Besler was better than Clarence Goodson alongside Gonzalez, but that isn't saying much. The USA gave Germany loads of chances inside the area and was lucky not to have been punished for more than just three goals. As for DaMarcus Beasley on the left side, you could say he hung in there, but at least that was better than what you could say about his replacement, Edgar Castillo, who was repeatedly beaten by Sidney Sam. And in goal? Tim Howard didn't exactly shine on the last two German goals.
GERMAN "B" TEAM ON VACATION. Unlike Belgium, which came to Cleveland with close to its first team and used its game against the USA as a warmup for Friday's key World Cup 2014 qualifier against Serbia, this was not the German national team that has won all six World Cup 2014 qualifiers, and they have nothing to prepare for. Only one starter from Germany's most recent qualifier -- central defender Per Mertesacker (burned on Altidore's goal) -- was in Joachim Loew's squad for its two-game U.S. tour. After scoring four goals in the first 24 minutes in Boca Raton, they gave up two goals to Ecuador and four more to the USA before heading off on vacation. Back home, the view was likely that they had already checked out on vacation.