AMSTERDAM — On a night to remember in different ways for Juan Agudelo and Bob Bradley, many of the marks for the US national team's smash 'n grab win at South Africa are encouraging.
Despite a handful of rough performances from veteran pros, the kids carved out a debutant's winner, with Mikkel Diskerud supplying a cool feed for shooting star Agudelo to bury a dreamy 85th-minute decider.
Of course, this match isn't about the result, and coach Bradley will now be able to organize and interpret answered questions all over the field.
Brad Guzan (7) - Aside from a shaky early corner defense, Guzan was calmly in command of his area and miserly closed down the two dangerous first half shooting chances by South Africa.
Eric Lichaj (5) - Another Aston Villa prodigy, Lichaj had several varieties of trouble in his own end and caused plenty at the other. His energy level may actually need to come down a notch, but watching him slice his way into attack is quite exciting.
Clarence Goodson (5.5) - There were a couple of early nervous moments, but from then on it was a typical show from the fresh Brøndby catch.
Tim Ream (6) - After being beaten by Bernard Parker for an early chance, the New York rookie sensation showed defensively why he played every minute of every Red Bulls game this season. There were also a couple of nice distributions from the back.
Jonathan Bornstein (5) - As the most capped man in the line-up, Tigres' new left back should have supplied a mature outing. Instead, old defensive spacing issues returned and he barely waved at Anele Ngconga going by for a shot at the quarter hour.
Logan Pause (4.5) - Neither holding midfielder was able to exert influence, with Pause's problems most often related to the "holding" part of his title.
Brian Carroll (4.5) - After a couple of good early plays, the "long time, no see" midfielder became rather sloppy on and around the ball.
Alejandro Bedoya (6.5) - Though he tired noticeably late, Bedoya showed a bit of all the reasons he is lauded in Sweden. He showed some attacking verve, ran his socks off and pitched in on defense.
Eddie Gaven (6.5) - Making his first USMNT start in over five years, the Crew workhorse was up for every challenge and sprinkled in some technical skill. His turnaround pass to tee up Robbie Rogers midway through the first was perfect in every way.
Robbie Rogers (6) - Though he perhaps could have done better with the aforementioned set-up by his Columbus teammate, Rogers continued teasing stateside fans with flashes of the flank skills sorely missing past the Dempsey/Donovan starting duo.
Robbie Findley (5) - Poorly cast at the top of the formation, Findley did not have one of his better halves.
Coach Bob Bradley (9.5) - Could the boss have asked for much more from this game? He gathered some helpful match data on several players, many of whom were previously untested, and grabbed a fun win in the bargain. What's more, the team had unusually smart spacing all night for a group that was doing countless introductions three days ago.
Jonathan Spector (4.5) - The West Ham defender did not look sharp in several facets of his game, most notably passing out of the back.
Teal Bunbury (5.5) - The Kansas City Wizards debutant brought a needed aerial element to forward play, but didn't really make much use of it. Bunbury showed enough around the ball to display promise, though.
Juan Agudelo (7.5) - It's been just past a month since the teenager made his MLS debut and now he's the youngest ever USMNT scorer. Not only were his touches and sense of intention commendable on the goal, he worked hard to run down the clock after.
Nat Borchers (6.5) - Appearing Red, White & Blue for the first time since 2005, Borchers demonstrated why he was a Defender of the Year finalist.
Mikkel Diskerud (7.5) - He didn't have long to show his stuff, but quickly made himself at home in the international game. The one known as "Mix" casually hypnotized the defense on the winning set-up, and then hustled late for a big block in his own end.
Gale Agbossoumonde (6) - Though given only a cameo debut, Agbossoumonde came up with a big headed clearance — that warrants a grade in my book.