Not a particularly inspiring performance was it? That said, the US did create a few decent chances and the goal they surrendered would probably not have been allowed by many refs as a Swedish attacker shoved away his defender in the buildup. Of course, the Swedes did fashion more and better chances than the US and had they not scored on that chance they may have kept up the pressure and eventually netted another. So let's take a look at the US, line-by-line:
Howard was solid, making a few reflex saves and generally hugging his line a bit too much when he should be out commanding the box - as is his wont. Perhaps he's a bit gun-shy after making a few mistakes at Man U that he probably caught hell for. Oh well, he's a quality athlete and maybe better command of the box with come with a couple of confidence- and experience-building years in the Everton net.
The central pairing of Boca-Gooch was better than in the Gold Cup, though they were split open a couple of times, only to have Howard spare their blushes. Gooch looked a bit more confident and decisive, particularly once the admittedly hard to handle Ibrahimovic was subbed out. Perhaps this is a result of being back in the comfortable confines of Liege, rather than struggling to adapt to the Premiership.
The fullbacks were not particularly impressive, but nor were they a disaster. Cherundolo looked very rusty, though as the game wore on, he began to make the positive contributions to the attack that make him so valuable. Bornstein and Spector were competent and Bornstein seems to be gaining a bit of confidence going forward, which is a positive sign.
Bradley's first half was bad - poor touches, wasted passes, rash tackles - it was all on display, which made Mastroeni look golden by comparison, even if he didn't contribute much. His second half was a more controlled performance, and the US attack benefited by moving Feilhaber from the wing, where he was largely ineffective. The negative was that the US was more vulnerable to the counter.
Feilhaber didn't look like the player who was so impressive this summer. He's still good on the ball and can maintain possession, but he looked off when it came to distribution. Maybe that's rust - maybe he's in too much flux right now with the transition to Derby. Whatever it was, his normally incisive passing was well off as he delivered a number of balls directly to Swedish players.
On the wings, Beasley had a decent night, Convey looked rusty and just plain bad after his long layoff, and Zizzo didn't get very involved in his limited minutes. Still, it was good to see Bradley blooding the young guns - now let us hope that he decides sooner rather than later to include a certain Mr. Altidore in his plans.
You know, if Dempsey could finish consistently, he wouldn't be a half bad target man. He's strong on the ball, can hold it up, has decent size, is relatively good in the air, can run at defenders, has a big bag o' tricks, and plays quick little touch-passes very well - sort of a Zlatan Lite. Unfortunately, he's just never proved to be a finisher - witness his horrifying misses for Fulham last week and in the preseason tourney in Asia and his tame roller that really should have found net yesterday. He wasn't helped by the fact that his striking partner Donovan seemed to be holding back from challenges and not giving a full effort. Maybe he was conserving energy for his match with LA tonight, or maybe he's just allergic to Europe. Based on all previous evidence, I'm going with the later ;-).
Hill had a few decent runs on the ball, but didn't show me anything special. Davies really didn't have much of a chance to impress. I'll say it again - Altidore now! I know that the Red Bulls had an important match last night (I'll get to that soon - and relish it!), but we've got to find a real goal threat up top. You saw what a difference Ibrahimovic made to Sweden. They were largely ordinary, but whenever he got the ball, you could sense danger. I never got that feeling from a US attacker.
So overall, it wasn't an embarrassing performance, and the team that we fielded would probably skate through CONCACAF qualifying. The biggest problem continues to be a distinctly toothless attack. Can we naturalize Luciano Emilio - it's not like he's every going to play for Brazil? Failing that (tongue-in-cheek) suggestion, Bradley needs to dredge the player pool and dig up a consistent goal threat or we'll never be more than a passable international side.