Player ratings from Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic (scale of 1-10):
Goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, 4: The Aston Villa backup didn't do anything wrong necessarily. On the other hand, if you're going to be the No. 2 in a World Cup, it would be nice to save your team's bacon with a highlight-making stop or two.
Right back, Steve Cherundolo, 6: The Bundesliga vet's experience showed. His mission this May is clearly to win a starting spot, not just a seat on the plane. Cherundolo's defending and his choices on attack were rock solid. He showed some nice control in tight spots occasionally.
Center back, Oguchi Onyewu, 4: The man on everyone's mind really didn't provide many answers. Was that immobile moment that allowed the Czech's first goal a hiccup, or was it an alarming snapshot of where his recovery bid stands? His inability to move into position to issue a challenge on Tomas Sivok's header (not to mention that worrisome, ineffective leap) made fans across the country wince. We can only assume that Bradley has seen more and knows more from a week of training.
Center back, Clarence Goodson, 6: A big night for the man who seemed like a long shot just a few weeks ago. He stirred the goalmouth blender on the first U.S. goal and battled to get into position to arrange the second. Those moments are huge. His ability to assist on attacking set-pieces is significant given this team's reliance on dead balls. On defense he had a couple of important first-half aerial interventions. Later, he could have been more assertive in clearing the Czech game winner. Still, given the back line injury uncertainty and his stand-up night, he looks like a lock for South Africa at this point.
Left back, Jonathan Bornstein, 4: A stretch of about four minutes in the first half tells the story of his night, the highlight of which was an early cross. During the brief, telling window of play, Bornstein gave away possession cheaply, committed a reckless foul and then conceded a free kick in a dangerous spot with yet another foul. It wasn't a good night ... but the limited options at left back means he's probably going to South Africa.
Midfielder, Stuart Holden, 6: He did a lot to help his cause with a lively night. Crisp set-piece delivery led to two goals. The fact that he's trusted to hit those balls means good things for his chances, too. He linked more cleverly with right back Cherundolo as the night went on and later showed useful versatility by playing centrally for the last 25 or so minutes. Even at the end, he was digging and chasing; not bad for a man without extensive playing time since March.
Midfielder, Maurice Edu, 5: Did what he needed in holding the center of the park with adequate passing and positioning and a willingness to throw his body in front of shots. Two tough fouls in the first six minutes is a bit concerning, reminding us that Edu remains prone to collecting cards. He adds value with the ability to play at center back, as he did for 24 minutes -- although he made a major mess of a routine play that led to the Czech's stoppage time goal.
Midfielder, Jose Torres, 5: The tidy and technical midfielder didn't do anything wrong, necessarily, although he could have ranged a little further up the field. But if Torres' role on this team is to offer something creative, to supply a little attacking pep, then it really would be nice to see him be more adventurous. Too many passes were lateral or backwards. He tried to tackle a few times; he just isn't very good at it.
Midfielder, DaMarcus Beasley, 6: Beasley needed to demonstrate that he still has a little fire in his belly and some ability to impact a match. He did just that. Looking like the good Beasley (rather than the haphazard Beasley we sometimes see) he rummaged around and found ways to get involved, just what you'd want to see from a man fighting for a spot.
Forward, Edson Buddle, 5: He found more ways to get involved than Eddie Johnson. And a little blood on the shirt never hurts. He hustled back to defend in a couple of spots and dropped deep here and there in search of the ball. In the end, it may not have been enough.
Forward, Eddie Johnson, 4: Two seasons abroad just haven't done much to sharpen his target play. Most balls into Johnson went backward harmlessly if he managed to hold them at all, and we've all seen that movie before. He was just a little too static for someone who needed to make an impression.
Left back, Heath Pearce, 3: He was partially culpable on two goals. Pearce lost position on the Czech's second strike and, later, he was late and slow on a tackle as the visitors built a game-winner. Crosses were poor when he did manage to hit them. Most issues with Pearce come down to that little bit of speed he lacks at the international level, as we saw once again. And yet, injuries along the back line may get him a seat on the plane despite it all.
Midfielder, Robbie Rogers, 5: Another one who probably needed to do more to make Bob Bradley think hard. He had a couple of nice moments, like a 61st-minute shot that made Petr Cech stretch. On the other hand, Rogers made hash of an 87th-minute ball that rolled toward him begging to be struck.
Midfielder, Sacha Kljestan, 4: Started lively enough, making a couple of penetrating passes that Torres wasn't offering. But Kljestan needed to impose himself on the game more over the last 20 minutes to really persuade Bradley. Plus, he was a guilty bystander on the third Czech goal.
Forward, Brian Ching, 5: Did what he always does, working the field with able hold-up play. He may not excite U.S. fans, but he works awfully hard to retain possession and to connect with attackers around him -- and wouldn't folks like to see a little more of that from Johnson? Ching makes himself more than a stationary target, and that means something.
Forward, Herculez Gomez, 6: Ah, the latest volley in the classic striker debate. He didn't do much, but he did score! Never mind that Goodson did the heavy lifting; a striker who strikes is a striker who gets noticed. He also managed a quick release shot in the 64th that forced a nice save from Cech.
Midfielder, Alejandro Bedoya, 5: Finished out playing out on the right as Holden moved inside and Edu dropped to center back. Bedoya needed to make every minute count and probably didn't do enough.
Coach, Bob Bradley: Anyone else get the feeling that he knew most of the 23 before Tuesday's kickoff? Although he did say "certain things were on the fence." Bradley rested the sure things and followed the plan of getting Onyewu 60-65 minutes. He kept only one forward or midfielder on for the entire match: Holden, as the former Houston Dynamo man surely needs to play his way into optimum shape.
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.