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South Africa 0–1 United States: Game Decided By Youngsters

Screen shot 2010 11 18 at 2.26.56 PM South Africa 0–1 United States: Game Decided By YoungstersA friendly match in Cape Town brought together the recent hosts of the FIFA World Cup, South Africa, and the United States, a team still looking to take the next step in international competition. On this day, the Americans brought a team filled with youth and inexperience, and in the end, it was that youth which provided the desired outcome.

South Africa started in the 4-4-2 formation, with Davide Somma and Bernard Parker starting up front. Siphiwe Tshabalala provided much of the impetus as a wide midfielder, with Tsepo Masilela and Anele Ngcongca providing deep supporting movement.

The United States came out with only one striker, Robbie Findley, in a 4-4-1-1 style. Eddie Gaven played in the hole behind Findley, and the lineup contained a number of fresh faces. Tim Ream made his debut in a central defense role, while Eric Lichaj made only his second start for the American side. The team relied heavily on the experience of captain goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defenders Jonathan Bornstein and Clarence Goodson.

The first 20 minutes of the match were controlled primarily by the South Africans. At the 13th minute, Ngcongca was sprung free on a ball from Somma to the right, but Guzan directed the close-in shot wide. At the 20th minute, Tshabalala fed Parker entering the box, and again Guzan handled the shot well.

After that chance, the young United States squad began to gain confidence under control. Their best opportunity of the half came at the 22nd minute mark. Gaven fed Robbie Rogers at the top of the penalty area, and he issued a well-struck shot that goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune secured. Rogers was also central to another opportunity. At the 44th minute, he fought along the goal line, and moved the ball into the area. His aerial feed across the box found Bedoya’s head, but he redirected it high and wide.

The half drew to an end, and both clubs remained scoreless. South Africa had the better chances, but the United States was gaining momentum.

Screen shot 2010 11 18 at 2.27.10 PM South Africa 0–1 United States: Game Decided By YoungstersCoach Bob Bradley subbed out Findley to start the second half, bringing on newcomer Teal Bunbury. Bunbury’s insertion provided some zest. At the 55th minute, Bunbury received a pass from Eric Lichaj, and his low shot was solid but covered by Khune.

As the half wore on, the US had moved into the ascendency. Bradley made two key substitutions. 17 year old first-timer Juan Agudelo replaced Rogers in the 60th minute and moved upfront to pair with Bunbury. Gaven moved back into the position left by Rogers’ departure. Another newly-capped squad member, Mikkel Diskerud, relieved Bedoya at the 78th minute.

In the 85th minute, Bradley’s adjustments paid off. Agudelo received the ball 35 yds out, and found a breaking Diskerud onside entering the area. Diskerud brought the ball into the left side of the area, and returned a pass to Agudelo who had broken towards net. Agudelo controlled and thumped the ball just under the crossbar, which gave the United States the lead. Agudelo became the youngest player to have scored in an international match for the United States, and did so in his first match for the team.

South Africa made a desperate effort to equalize with the remaining time, but the United States defense held strong. The Americans came out the winners in this friendly match 1-0. The outcome was a vindication for Coach Bradley, who had picked a less experienced squad to face South Africa. In the end, it was a match decided by the youngsters.

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9 Responses to South Africa 0–1 United States: Game Decided By Youngsters

  1. Joe says:

    I was unable to watch the game (hopefully they will re-air it some time), but one thing I take away from the highlights is that I hope Agudelo’s “touch” on that shot was no fluke. Altidore, Finley, Buddle – when it comes to international competitions, they just don’t have that “touch”, that sixth sense that allows a striker to put it away close to the net. After watching Agudelo in the Red Bulls playoff game he certainly has the speed and willingness to chase. If he also has “the touch”, US Soccer might have something big here…

    • Earl Reed says:

      I think that’s a shared sentiment Joe. The international stage is much more competitive than the domestic league. Finishing skill has been a lacking element for as long as I can remember. Here’s also hoping that the rebirth of the reserve system and continued growth of the academies (where Agudelo has greatly developed) brings the highest quality youth players into the soccer program…in a country where the dollar signs of the other pro sports are more alluring.

    • eplnfl says:

      Try ESPN3 online if you have access to it.

    • Charles says:

      Joe,
      I am sure you can watch it on ESPN3 if you are able to access that.

      • Charles says:

        sorry, 2 hours late with that post ;-)

      • Joe says:

        Unfortunately I am a Time Warner Cable customer, and the only way you can access ESPN3 on Time Warner (unlike EVERY OTHER provider) is to buy a cable TV package.

        Internet TV is the future, and Time Warner (who famously paid actual money for AOL) will be stuck in the past. But for now, their stinginess actually does affect me and their customers.

        As soon as I move to a building that has a Fios option, bye-bye Time Warner…

  2. eplnfl says:

    I have not view the complete game yet but my impressions from most of the first half that I saw and highlights of the second is that no one should jump to any conclusions about the team or any player on the field. I do like the squad Bob Bradley picked but only from the point that you have to take a look young players at some time. Bradley to his credit does this. Everyone loves the spirit and the determination of the South African team but it is not a major soccer power. So lets be happy for a great game that was entertaining and that was well received in South Africa. They showed again what excellent hosts they are.

    • Joe says:

      I agree that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but South Africa proved in the world cup that they are not a bad team. A tie with Mexico and victory over France (even a listless France) showed that while they’re certainly not a soccer power, they’re not a joke either, especially when playing at home.

      • eplnfl says:

        After listening to various English media outlets talking about their defeat I do feel a lot more positive but still lets keep a level head.

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