Five takeaways from Russia friendly 

November, 14, 2012

You never want to end a season with a loss. But given how sloppy the U.S. squad looked during large parts of its 2-2 tie in Russia on Wednesday, dropping a one-goal decision to a stingy top-10 team away from home would have been respectable. Instead, second-half sub Mix Diskerud scored in stoppage time, and the Yanks ended 2012 with another unlikely result on the road, as well as their best-ever winning percentage over a calendar year.

Not that any of that matters anymore.

Now that 2012 is complete for the Yanks, it's all about looking ahead to a busy 2013.

Because the match in Krasnodar was U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann's last chance to experiment before the start of the final round of World Cup qualifying in February, avoiding defeat was just a bonus. Much more important were the valuable lessons learned over the 90 minutes.

Here are the five biggest takeaways:

Michael Bradley is already the best American player

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.