A few players stood out amid a Red, White and Blue sea of frustration in the US national team's somewhat encouraging 1-0 friendly loss to Paraguay on Tuesday night.
The hosts lost an early game of set piece pinball and never recovered, though not for a lack of trying. The USMNT repeatedly moved upfield only to forgo end product for the evening.
US PLAYER RATINGS
Marcus Hahnemann (6) – The big guy can't be faulted for the goal and pitched in a couple of tidy saves.
Timothy Chandler (7) – So much to say about the birthday boy, so little space. The possibilities are enthralling and the night was pretty good, too. In defense or midfield, the wide man knows how to attack with or without the ball and is already among the top few crossers in the team. He can be beaten near the corner as a right back, but he solves this by tilting the field imposingly; Chandler's more likely to be asking questions down in the attacking end.
Jay DeMerit (5) – It was a rather short night due to injury. He still had time for a couple of slip-ups, but let's celebrate the way he attacked the far post on a set piece with his last hobbled action of the game.
Tim Ream (5) – The Red Bulls up-and-comer started the night with a couple of nice splitting long passes. Sometimes, though, Ream knows too well what he's capable of with the ball and tries to do too much, and twice was baited into turnovers by the organized Paraguayan midfield. He also got bumped down during the goal, losing the eventual scorer, but there was plenty of blame to go around on that play.
Jonathan Bornstein (5.5) – The Tigres man was generally steady at wingback after playing a lot of midfield in Mexico. He does seem to have gained some positional confidence and ghosted passing lanes well. Of course, old problems like back side marking, covering overlaps and wasteful crossing – that last a particular problem on the night – still flare up.
Maurice Edu (4.5) – It was a lackluster 45 minutes for the Rangers midfielder, who suffered from spotty passing and was unable to impose his will on either side of the ball. Oddly, he actually seems crisper when under direct pressure.
[inline_node:332392]Michael Bradley (7) – On one occasion, he made an unwise decision on the ball. The rest of the night, he was cool as can be and kept an often-sparkling US build humming along. A well-struck late equalizer bid was cruelly denied inches from paydirt.
Landon Donovan (5.5) – The night's captain provides so much in the transition from defense to offense, you almost hate to complain – but we will. More than half his restart serves were of no use, including all three after the break. With the US legs drawing so many danger free kicks, that's a lot of waste. Donovan also flubbed a late tight-angle chance to level.
Clint Dempsey (5.5) – See the first sentence of the Donovan rating (minus the armband). Deuce is always so busy banging and cutting across the grain, even his bad games are half-decent. Still, he marked poorly on the Paraguay goal and was frequently frustrated by hard fouling.
Juan Agudelo (6.5) – Watching this youngster play is like knowing your pizza will be done in two minutes. He's only 18, but the little flashes of brilliance are coming more and more rapidly. His special use of touch is already equal or better than that of any 'Nats attacker not named Clint or Landon. Agudelo not only links successfully, he does it with imagination.
[inline_node:332390]Jozy Altidore (5) – It was a rather quiet hour-long shift for the striker, who spent much of his attack time either bemoaning a lost touch or in a bear hug. It can be said that he always handles the rough stuff like an attack dog trainer, calmly surrendering himself to win fouls. The flip side is that he needs to show more aggression attacking chances in the box.
Coach Bob Bradley (6.5) – I'm sure some observers will credit his return to the original recipe bucket for the lively build play, but players strayed about quite freely. The latter is actually more impressive by my count; the boys were out to play ball as a team and the formation changes didn't alter that. However, needing a goal late, he might have been better off allowing the wheels of Chandler and Eric Lichaj to work the right together a bit longer.
Carlos Bocanegra (6) – An unexpected long shift at his unpreferred right central position actually seemed to focus the veteran. He didn't take chances, especially with the ball, and was mostly very tidy.
Jermaine Jones (5.5) – The Blackburn loan item looked more in control than on Saturday, but was fortunate to get away with a dreadful late ball handling slip. Otherwise, Jones was a consistent pest, at the least. His late bid for a tying goal was driven cleanly, but well within reach of the 'keeper.
David Yelldell (6) – The proud debutant didn't have a great deal to do. Yelldell may well have had the long-range post ringer covered, were it on net.
Eric Lichaj (6.5) – He had a couple of nervy moments at the back, but often cleans his own spills. His motor up the flank and ability to cause danger into the area makes him the kind of rare defender that can be an offensive sub.
Sacha Kljestan (–) – Given only 13 minutes, the Anderlecht midfielder quickly got into the building spirit without sparking any true danger.
Jonathan Spector (–) – The handyman received a rare USMNT midfield appearance, out wide of all places. Spector had little time to make a real impact, but like Kljestan, helped keep the ball moving a bit.