Wahl_grant
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  • 05:27 PM ET  11.17

Three thoughts on the U.S.’s 1-0 victory over South Africa on Wednesday in Cape Town:

Juan Agudelo’s world is changing fast. The 17-year-old New York Red Bulls forward scored on his debut in the 85th minute to lift a young U.S. team to a surprising victory over a nearly full-strength South Africa in sold-out Cape Town Stadium. Considering Agudelo had an impressive performance in New York’s final playoff game (also on national TV), the hype machine may go into overload for the young striker leading into 2011. (Within 15 minutes of the game, “Agudelo” was trending on Twitter in the U.S. and New York City.) Let’s try and dial it down a bit, though. Agudelo is a very promising young player with good physical tools who will need to keep his head straight if he wants to achieve that potential. That said, it was a well-taken goal by the U.S., not least because fellow debutante Mix Diskerud did a lot of good work on the ball before passing to Agudelo for his poised finish.

The new guys fared well. Agudelo and Diskerud weren’t the only young Americans who had solid debuts for the national team. New York’s Tim Ream won his first start in the central defense (ahead of West Ham’s Jonathan Spector and MLS Defender of the Year finalist Nat Borchers) and justified coach Bob Bradley’s confidence by positioning himself well and looking composed on the ball. Likewise, Teal Bunbury came on up top in the second half and had some nice moments, showing good speed of thought on the ball. Eric Lichaj had a solid performance at right back, defending well against Siphiwe Tshabalala while making his way upfield on occasion in the attack. It’s only one game, though, so let’s put everything in perspective. You can be sure that Bob Bradley will.

Some familiar faces struggled. Two U.S. players from the World Cup team had nights to forget. Robbie Findley got the start up top but had trouble completing passes and was outplayed by both Agudelo and Bunbury. On the back line, Spector came in at halftime and lost several balls, some of them in dangerous positions on the field. Neither player has been starting for his club team, either, which means they’ll be in danger of missing out on future call-ups if the New Kids keep showing promise. Some other familiar faces looked good, though, including goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender Clarence Goodson.

What were your thoughts on the game?

 

 

November 17, 2010  05:55 PM ET

I think the performance was impressive considering it was far from a top squad for the us.Agudelo did not play particuarly well but he scored and has loads of potential. I like Diskerud a lot although we are pretty loaded in the midfield. Looking forward to January against a very good Chile team and potentially a march game against Argentina

November 17, 2010  06:08 PM ET

Findley...thanks for coming out....bye bye

November 17, 2010  06:35 PM ET

I would've loved to have seen Rogers find the corner on his first half shot from the top of the box. He's a hard worker who's unafraid to let fly, and I think he's due for a high profile national team goal.

November 17, 2010  06:41 PM ET

When getting ready to watch today's international friendlies (Eng. vs. France, USA vs. South Africa, Brazil v. Argentina and Portugal vs. Spain), all I wanted was no scoreless draws, so I appreciate Agudelo obliging me. As pleased as I am for him, I am more intrigued by Diskerud, though the fact that he's 20 is making me feel OLDE!

November 17, 2010  07:10 PM ET
QUOTE:

And so ends the Robbie Findlay Experiment...

I hope you're right.

More of the MixMaster and Agudelo would be good. Haven't we seen enough of Spector (really feel sorry for him - confidence must be shattered right now) Findley, and Bornstein to know they are not the answer?

November 17, 2010  07:20 PM ET

Being a Red Bulls fan I clearly had a good night, Tim Ream was the man as usual and Juan Agudelo shows why there is so much hype when it comes to him. Mikkel Diskerud i thought could have played more except he did excellent, and the same goes for Gale Agbossumonde except he really didn't impress because he got very little time, Eric Lichaj got me wondering on why he doesn't get more playing time at Villa. There is one guy who always impresses me yet no one ever talks about him and that was Eddie Gaven, I thought Gaven was one of the best players on the pitch yet no one ever says a word about him. Either way the U.S. played solid and deserved the win, and TLVG lets be honest the Robbie Findley experiment has been over for a while, yet the **** keeps showing up for some reason. (no offense to any blacks)

November 17, 2010  08:42 PM ET

I have to say, I was very satisfied with the game. The US played great, especially the defense. Sure, South Africa had some moments, but nothing to threatening. Ream and Goodson played great. And it did seem like Lichaj was in every play. Alejandro Bedoya also played amazing. Mix it in with Agudelo's strike (have we possibly found the man to compliment Altidore up top??), and the fact that we were missing all of our heavyweights, including Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, and Feilhaber (on his good days), we look poised to win the Gold Cup next year (hopefully against Mexico!)

November 17, 2010  09:18 PM ET

I've yet to see one aspect of Guzan's game that is below "great". Can anyone?

November 17, 2010  09:43 PM ET

Forgot to include Bornstein in the discussion of familiar faces who played poorly. God I hate that guy playing for the US

November 17, 2010  09:58 PM ET

Spector played his last game for the United States. I've never seen a professional look so out of place and misplay every pass in the second half. Absolutely awful. Bring on the youth.

November 17, 2010  11:40 PM ET

Sorry, but I don't see the enthusiasm of some of the commenters. Yes, some of the youth comported themselves well. I particularly was impressed with Lichaj and Diskerud. However, there were still way to many easy giveaways in the midfield and, worse, in our own end. A mediocre international squad like South Africa won't necessarily hurt you on those, but anyone else from about Slovakia on up will punish you for that type of profligacy. This seems to be a hallmark of Bradley coached U.S. squads. It was never this bad under Bruce Arena. I do agree with the others about Findley. All he has is pace. In a 2nd division league like MLS he may score a few goals but at the international level he looks hopelessly out of place. He certainly wasn't helped either by Bradley's decision to play him alone up top.

November 18, 2010  11:48 AM ET

Saludos to Juan Agudelo, as a fellow Colombian-American, I am proud of Juan's young, energetic and promising play. Keep it up, we're all proud of you, mijo!

I agree with the end of the Findley Experiment. What is it about Findley that Bradley sees in him? Findley is the reason that Buddle didn't have as much playing time at the World Cup. Findley is another one of those flame-outs that need to finally be shown the door. How many more chances is enough? No more Findley!

November 18, 2010  01:53 PM ET

pause and carroll are 29... we couldn't find a youngblood to screw up and not attack in the midfield?

November 18, 2010  06:05 PM ET

I think the "we didn't establish possession in midfield" and "pause/carroll didn't attack" critiques kinda miss the point. You're critiquing the players least likely ever to see minutes in meaningful matches. I mean, to get to these guys, there had to be like 8-10 central midfielders ahead of them who are unavailable.

And clogging up the midfield was more or less the extent of their jobs.

The evaluation of this game *should* swing largely on Agudelo, Diskerud, Lichaj, Ream, Boss, Guzan, and Bunbury.

November 18, 2010  06:20 PM ET
QUOTE(#13):

Sorry, but I don't see the enthusiasm of some of the commenters. Yes, some of the youth comported themselves well. I particularly was impressed with Lichaj and Diskerud. However, there were still way to many easy giveaways in the midfield and, worse, in our own end. A mediocre international squad like South Africa won't necessarily hurt you on those, but anyone else from about Slovakia on up will punish you for that type of profligacy.

err....this was a team of MLS standouts plus youngsters, plus a few fringe Euro players. You really can't put stock into how good the team played against a FULL STRENGTH South African squad (though they may be mediocre).

1 player on this roster up played in the world cup this summer (Bornstein). Focus on performances of individuals who we can use for the future and not on the performance of a C-strength US squad (if that)

November 18, 2010  06:22 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

pause and carroll are 29... we couldn't find a youngblood to screw up and not attack in the midfield?

Pause was puzzling for sure, but half of our team could have played on a U-23 squad. We saw Diskerud, Robbie Rogers, and Bedoya. We had enough young blood....our midfield is stacked anyway

November 18, 2010  06:25 PM ET

One thing I really liked was Guzan's command of the box. Maybe it was because he was captain, maybe it was because he was playing with a relatively young backline and fringe players, but he definitely looked more confident and commanding back there. He even looked a little like Timmy. Nice to see.

November 18, 2010  11:42 PM ET
QUOTE(#17):

err....this was a team of MLS standouts plus youngsters, plus a few fringe Euro players. You really can't put stock into how good the team played against a FULL STRENGTH South African squad (though they may be mediocre). 1 player on this roster up played in the world cup this summer (Bornstein). Focus on performances of individuals who we can use for the future and not on the performance of a C-strength US squad (if that)

Actually, two players on the roster played in the WC. Findley had three starts with 166 min. played, Bornstein two starts with 199 min. played. Three others were on the WC roster. South Africa did have about half their roster on the WC squad. With seven or eight getting at least one start. So yes the SA squad was definitely more experienced than the U. S., but I'm not sure if you could exactly call it FULL STRENGTH. At any rate we should expect to beat those guys even with kids and MLS players. If we are ever going to be a true International power it shouldn't even be close. Look what Brazil did to us with mostly teenagers and less experienced guys. Had we been playing Mexico we probably would have lost.

I did point out that most of the youth did a good job. Lichaj had a very nice work rate. Diskerud had a deft touch. While he's not young I agree that Guzan in this and the Brazil game impressed me for the first time.

However, my main point still stands, whether they are a bunch of kids or our full on National squad, that as long as we continue to give the ball away in dangerous positions we are going to get beat by decent National squads. The easy giveaways were well documented in the World Cup and seem to have become common under Bradley. I don't remember it being a real problem under Bora or Bruce Arena (save for Claudio Reyna's giveaway to Ghana in 2006 WC). There was a degree of it under Steve Sampson and it killed them in the 98 WC. Yes, some of the kids that played may have a good future and I feel a little bit better about the U.S. squads future now, but there are still some major problems here that have become endemic in the system. Sorry I can't be all Sunbeams and Light.

November 19, 2010  11:50 AM ET

@red means run

It's less about Arena vs Bradley than it is about the '02 personnel vs the personnel Bradley has had at his disposal up to this point.

(and btw, Arena's '06 team gave away the ball in their own half like it was their job)

Fact of the matter is, BB has been cursed with a lack of depth and reliable options at certain key positions. There was no ultra reliable holding-mid for him to call upon like Arena did with O'Brien in '02, Davies' injury left him without a suitable pairing for Altidore, he has *never* had a truly respectable leftback in the player pool, and Onyewu's bad decision to pick prestige over playing time (should have gone to Fenerbahce, ****) left him with only one reliable center-back.

With all that, it's no wonder the team was troubled with defensive errors in their own half.


This isn't BB's fault. It's the fault of the US player pool, which in BB's era has been top-heavy with midfielders (but not holding-midfielders, sadly) and sparse everywhere else. When BB needed the next man up to fill in for someone who got injured or fell out for form... there was no one there for him to use.

 
November 19, 2010  11:51 AM ET

@red means run

It's less about Arena vs Bradley than it is about the '02 personnel vs the personnel Bradley has had at his disposal up to this point.

(and btw, Arena's '06 team gave away the ball in their own half like it was their job)

Fact of the matter is, BB has been cursed with a lack of depth and reliable options at certain key positions. There was no ultra reliable holding-mid for him to call upon like Arena did with O'Brien in '02, Davies' injury left him without a suitable pairing for Altidore, he has *never* had a truly respectable leftback in the player pool, and Onyewu's bad decision to pick prestige over playing time (should have gone to Fenerbahce, ****) left him with only one reliable center-back.

With all that, it's no wonder the team was troubled with defensive errors in their own half.


This isn't BB's fault. It's the fault of the US player pool, which in BB's era has been top-heavy with midfielders (but not holding-midfielders, sadly) and sparse everywhere else. When BB needed the next man up to fill in for someone who got injured or fell out for form... there was no one there for him to use.

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