Tough slate has left U.S. battle-tested 

April, 27, 2010

The European seasons are winding down, shrinking the window for at least one U.S. star to round into form before the World Cup.

Another U.S. defender scored an own goal, and a third American abroad pulled a John Starks, which will cost him the rest of the EPL season. Meanwhile, the Yanks' striker situation is even more confusing than it was in late October.

But if you're looking for positive omens as you count down to the enormous showdown on June 12, we've got one. The U.S. friendly in the Netherlands last month, and what it may portend, looks better with each passing week. Yes, the Oranje outscored, out-possessed and out-step-over'd the U.S., 2-1, at the Amsterdam Arena.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.