Photo by ISIPhotos.com
It wasn't the prettiest game, but there was an equal amount of positive and negative to be drawn from the U.S. men's national team's 2-2 tie vs. Poland on Saturday.
The positives? Among them, the play of the attack. The passing and movement by the 4-2-3-1 formation was encouraging, though Jozy Altidore's finishing kept it from being a more effective performance. You also had Stuart Holden and Jermaine Jones playing very well on the night.
The negatives? Altidore's finishing and the defense, which struggled at times to cope with Poland's speed. Oguchi Onyewu looked rusty at times, while Maurice Edu didn't look completely comfortable playing centerback, but did enough to merit more looks in the back-line.
Here are SBI's Player Grades for USA-Poland:
USA vs. POLAND Player Grades
Tim Howard (7). Made a clutch save on a breakaway and stopped the shots he had any chance on.
Steve Cherundolo (6). Steady once again on the right, providing some service getting forward and strong defending.
Carlos Bocanegra (4.5). Bocanegra struggles against speedy wingers and this was the case yet again. He's still a better left back option than anybody else in the pool, but Bob Bradley knows he needs to start developing new left backs ASAP.
Oguchi Onyewu (5.5). Rusty, but willing to get stuck into challenges and was more dominant in the air than the last time we saw him (his flubbed clearance on Poland's first goal notwithstanding).
Maurice Edu (5). Edu started out slowly, and had his moments of discomfort you expect from someone playing out of position. He's got the skill set to become a long-term option in the back, though you wonder if he'll get a look at his natural position of defensive midfielder.
Jermaine Jones (7). A stellar debut for the German-born midfielder, who's passing and athleticism bring new elements to the U.S. midfield. He did have a bad pass turn into Poland's equalizer, but he still gave U.S. fans plenty to be excited about.
Stuart Holden (7). Dynamic, creative and tenacious, Holden played with the confidence of a Premier League regular. His poor clearance attempt on Poland's first goal was the sole flub, but he made an emphatic case to remain a starter for the long haul.
Michael Bradley (5). Put in plenty of supporting work deep in midfield, but he also had several passes miss the mark. Seemed willing to defer to Jones in a pairing that should do well once they've had a few games together.
Benny Feilhaber (4). No player had less of an impact on the match than Feilhaber, who simply couldn't get involved in the match.
Clint Dempsey (6). One player who seemed to enjoy the new U.S. system, Dempsey worked well with his midfielders to move the ball around and made use of the freedom that came with playing behind Altidore.
Jozy Altidore (6). The misses will stand out, but it can't be ignored that he put himself in position for so many chances. He's improving as a player, but needs to start putting away chances at a greater rate if the U.S. attack is going to be truly dangerous.
Alejandro Bedoya (4). Didn't get too involved as the U.S. team's lone sub. He wasn't as bad as he was in the Brazil friendly, but didn't make a real impact either.
What did you think of the U.S. team's performance? Impressed with Jones and Holden? Worried about the future of the defense?
Share your thoughts below.