By Mike Woitalla
If you didn't know which was the World Cup-bound team, you certainly wouldn't have guessed the guys in the shiny new white polo shirts. Lacking spirit, cohesion and a competent backline, the Americans fell, 2-0, to Ukraine in Cyprus on Wednesday.
The bubble players aiming to impress Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t raise their stock while Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey didn’t play like the World Cup roster shoo-ins -- or team leaders -- they’re supposed to be.
The backline looked like a collection of lost boys. The Americans’ rare combination play occurred mainly in their own half and fell apart long before they neared the Ukrainians' goal. A U.S. frontline was nowhere to be found.
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
5 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 97/0
His best saves were deflections the Ukrainians converted into goals.
3 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG) 24/1
Defensively, the right back fared a bit better than his backline mates. But going forward? Of his seven crossing opportunities he mis-hit five.
2 John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER) 3/0
Allowed Denys Garmash to streak straight into the penalty area on the first goal. Saved by offside flag on another bad mark-up. Sloppy header in midfield nearly resulted in long-range goal. No help on the second goal, which also came through the center.
2 Oguchi Onyewu (Sheffield Wednesday/ENG) 69/6
Nearly scored an own goal. Didn’t recover to help on the first goal. Stumbled instead of intercepting a pass that led to Ukraine’s second goal.
2 Edgar Castillo (Tijuana/MEX) 16/0
Saw but ignored Andriy Yarmolenko, allowing him to cruise in to easily stroke home Ukraine’s first goal. Did nothing offensively, which should be his strength.
4 Jermaine Jones (Besiktas/TUR) 39/2
Had more of the ball than any of the midfielders but delivered only one penetrating pass, which Dempsey failed to reach in time.
2 Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/BEL) 46/4
Posed no danger going forward, often lost the ball, and USA was lucky not to concede a goal when he coughed it up in the 31st minute.
4 Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/FRA) 26/1
Alhough the most active of the midfielders offensively his efforts bore no fruit.
2 Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) 102/36
Invisible for first 20 minutes until he moved deep into midfield, where he failed to orchestrate anything interesting. In the second half, wasted a headed chance and a through ball he let roll to the keeper.
3 Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER) 18/0
A non-factor offensively on the left side and struggled along with Castillo on other side of ball.
3 Jozy Altidore (Sunderland/ENG) 67/21
Misplayed rare service he received and headed over crossbar (from Cameron cross) on only chance.
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
4 Aron Johannsson (AZ/NED) 6/1
Came closest to scoring: His sharp volley off corner kick was cleared off the line.
3 Brek Shea (Barnsley/ENG) 26/2
Didn’t provide the spark he’s supposed to as a late sub.
NR Danny Williams (Reading/ENG) 13/0
Replaced Jones for final 10 minutes.
NR Juan Agudelo (FC Utrecht/NED) 18/2
Replaced Altidore for last five minutes.
(1=low; 5-medium; 10=high.)