Dempsey shines, but Clark suffers

Bob Bradley takes a knock for personnel moves in Ghana loss

The US national team managed to stretch Ghana to extra time, but the marks are bound to be punitive after the youngest team in the field sent the Red, White & Blue home by making them look green.

U.S. PLAYER RATINGS

Tim Howard (4.5) - He would tell you he should have had both goals, so we’ll do the same. Howard was slow to get low on the short side opener and ducked under the winner, clearly the greater crime. In between these events, he was perfectly fine.

Steve Cherundolo (4) - The veteran was as poor in this game as he was outstanding in the first three. Cherundolo had more than a half dozen nice 'n easy chances to cross and only his last serve was useful. He had a few troubles in defense as well.

Jay DeMerit (4.5) - The center back was again sloppy early. With Clark rallying in support, he should have stepped up to the shooter on the opener. DeMerit was also again fantastic in the second half, including a terrific low cross interception. In extras, he went back to poor, failing to offer Bocanegra proper support on the Gyan winner.

Carlos Bocanegra (5) - Up until being schooled by his Rennes teammate on the fatal goal, the skipper had mostly kept things very tidy in his bubble, even if his passing was sub-par. After that error, he looked a little tame and squandered a great last gasp chance to cross.

Jonathan Bornstein (6.5) - In the first half, the Chivas USA man was extremely timid in the defensive lines taken to ball carriers and got beat a couple times early. After the break, he was extremely solid and managed to wiggle a couple of dangerous balls into the area.

Michael Bradley (5) - Like Cherundolo, the central midfielder had easily his worst World Cup 2010 showing against Ghana. It wasn't so much awful as just very disappointing. Both his outlet passes and area raids fell flat, but he did make some defensive plays.

Ricardo Clark (4) - It's a little difficult to hammer him too hard, if only because he barely made the half hour. If Clark looked tentative before the turnover that led to Ghana's opener and a quick yellow card, he looked even more so after.

Landon Donovan (5.5) - His clever touch released Dempsey for the penalty reward and he pinged the spot kick in off the post. This all happened to cap the best period Donovan enjoyed, from halftime to the goal. Before and after that he was all but invisible when he wasn't applying a poor touch. In other words, the scoring sequence raised his grade considerably.

Clint Dempsey (8) - If anyone out there doesn't have Deuce as their U.S. top performer, I want to check if they've had any sleep. Dempsey was in the middle of nearly every positive American sequence, most notably to win the equalizing penalty.

Robbie Findley (4) - It was another so-so 45-minute outing overall, but he has to do better on the golden chance. Has. To.

Jozy Altidore (5) - The Tractor still plowed, but not as much and not to as great effect. His touches were also a bit shabbier, but he battled through it. Altidore also had a few very nice pressure relief passes, but the name of the game is finding your chance and he didn't.

Coach Bob Bradley (3) - Let me first say that I am actually being a little lenient on the coach because most of his players simply didn't deliver. Now... where do I begin complaining? Restoring Findley to the line-up ended predictably, the Clark call was a misfire and again the team stumbled out of the blocks. The stumble lasted a good while, no doubt in part because of fatigue at elevation. His changes had some impact, but offered zero in the way of surprise to Ghana - they were ready for them. The bottom line against Ghana strikes at the heart of the same gripe I've had since Bradley married this empty bucket formation with patient, safe, opportunistic tactics early in his tenure. There wasn't enough impetus, enough imposition, enough daring. And most shockingly, there wasn't nearly enough fire in the bellies. I mean, at what point does the boss decide to begin a game with the personnel and approach that always is asked to rescue them in the second half? It's been a decent World Cup campaign for Bradley, but this was an ugly exit.

Subs:

Maurice Edu (6.5) - There were a couple of hiccups, but the Rangers midfielder generally offered stifling ball pressure, plenty of starts forward and some prohibitive positioning. He wasn't great, but he was certainly good enough that many observers will wonder why he didn't start.

Benny Feilhaber (5.5) - His first 15 minutes or so were terrific, just the type of impact the boss wanted. From there, he floated out of the game, relegated mostly to the occasional hustle defensive play or traffic direction easy ball.

Herculez Gomez (5) - He worked hard, but failed to have much impact in 30 minutes against tired defenders.