TAMPA -- Three thoughts after the U.S. B-team's 2-1 victory over El Salvador on Wednesday night:
* Depth is still a big concern. The U.S.'s MLS-based players have had two big chances this year to show they have what it takes to make the World Cup team, and the results have been decidedly mixed. The 3-1 loss to Honduras last month was marred by an early red card to Jimmy Conrad, but the Yanks played with no such disadvantage in this game and still had to come from behind at home against a mediocre regional foe. Still, fighting back for the victory showed this team does have a competitive spirit. Which players improved their cases to earn one of the 23 golden tickets in June? I'd say forward Brian Ching, whose goal and general danger in the box showed he could provide depth in South Africa; left back Heath Pearce, who sent a nice cross to Ching for the goal and had success down the left side; and perhaps midfielder Sacha Kljestan, whose game-winning goal came after he had missed two scoring chances in the first half. Defenders Clarence Goodson and Jonathan Bornstein were pretty solid in the central defense, too. That's about it, though.
* Other players didn't make a good case for World Cup inclusion. Robbie Rogers struggled in the first half on the right side of midfield, lacking sharpness and cohesion with his teammates and seeming out of sorts. Things improved slightly for Rogers on the left side in the second half, but he still didn't look like a player who could come on as a late-game sub in South Africa. Right back Brad Evans was dangerous on a couple of set-piece headers early, but his bad back-pass header led directly to El Salvador's goal. Meanwhile, midfielder Kyle Beckerman and starting forwards Conor Casey and Robbie Findley didn't look bad, but they didn't get the breakout performances that they could have used, either.
* Onward to Amsterdam. The importance of this game will pale in comparison to the A-squad's game next Wednesday at the Amsterdam Arena against the Netherlands. Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra and Co. will be back in action for the U.S. for the first time since last October's final World Cup qualifier in Washington D.C. How will they respond to playing one of the world's top teams in an intimidating atmosphere? Tonight's game was another reminder that MLS players don't figure to make much of an impact on the U.S. World Cup team in South Africa.
Who do you think helped their cause? Which of these U.S. players would you be comfortable with on the field in South Africa? What were your thoughts on the game? Feel free to post them below...
Grant Wahl can also be found on Twitter.