The Future Of U.S. Soccer Is Bright With Juan Agudelo

Juan Agudelo (L) of the U.S. fights for the ball with South Africa's Anele Ngcongca (C) during their Nelson Mandela Challenge soccer match in Cape Town, November 17, 2010. At right is Brian Carroll of the U.S. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

It was a cry from the supporters to Bob Bradley to put in young players and start to bleed them in for the 2014 World Cup cycle. We’ve heard it so many times on message boards and comments on national team stories here on MLS Talk. The one problem that everyone thought the USA needed to fix is at striker.

While Charlie Davies continues to get his sharpness back with his club team FC Sochaux in France’s Ligue Un, there is a new bright star that has started to shine and he plays his club ball in Major League Soccer with the New York Red Bulls. Seventeen year old Juan Agudelo from Barnagat, NJ and a graduate of the New York Red Bulls Academy scored his first goal as a member of the USA National Team.

In the 85th Minute it was a fantastic poke with plenty of power behind it. A good pass started by Agudelo to Mikkel Diskerud attacking the South African area. All of a sudden Diskerud was surrounded by three defenders and kept his composure on the ball. Somehow he made a strong pass to Agudelo who got into position and hit a hard shot off the top of his right foot which nailed the bottom of the crossbar, bounced over the goal line and inside the top of the net.

It was a fantastic debut for Agudelo coming off the bench in the sixty-first minute for Robbie Rogers; you saw the talent and the poise from this young man on the field. But to be honest it all started for him before the 2010 MLS Season started with his club side deciding whether to sign him or lose him to a Colombian club side. Thankfully the decision was the right one by the Red Bulls.

All season long he trained and learned from veteran players like Juan Pablo Angel, summer transfer window signing Thierry Henry and other players. He gained valuable information from them and the coaching staff as well. Let’s not forget that he is also a member of the US u-20 national team coached by Thomas Rongen and when his stock started to rise on the youth national team level that both Hans Backe of the New York Red Bulls and Bob Bradley began to really take notice.

During the middle of the season I attended Red Bulls training at Montclair State University and along with the media, had a interview session with Backe and saw major improvement coming from Agudelo after he returned from the u-20’s winning the Milk Cup tournament. Backe said he felt confident now that he could get him some minutes during the second half of the MLS season.

His MLS debut came off the bench very late in the second half during a scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake at Red Bull Arena on October 9th, then got his second match on the road at the Philadelphia Union on October 16th. His first two starts of the season came in the goal aggregate playoff loss against the San Jose Earthquakes. He looked solid and set up the tying aggregate goal in the second leg when he faked a shot and quickly chipped a cross to Angel who headed the ball past Jon Busch.

I understand that ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas has said that we shouldn’t put too much pressure on Agudelo and turn him into a bust like Freddy Adu became. But seeing this kid during training and talking to him afterwards, I can say he has a good head on his shoulders. I also know that Hans Backe will make sure that he stays calm and never goes out of line.

But right now the future of the Red Bulls and the National Team has some hope. It’s looking good at Red Bull Arena when you will see a possible tandem of Thierry Henry and Agudelo attacking the net. On the national team level we could see Jozy Altidore paired with Agudelo. But for right now, I think Juan is going to be used for the CONCACAF qualifying tournament into the 2011 u-20 World Cup.

15 thoughts on “The Future Of U.S. Soccer Is Bright With Juan Agudelo”

  1. Adu was a few years younger than Agudelo when he began receiving the yoke of American soccer’s future. There are several factors which make yesterday’s game what one would call “guarded optimism.” South Africa’s team comprised mostly of their World Cup veterans. That being said, South Africa is not a particularly strong side, and was the perfect opportunity for Bradley to introduce some new blood.

  2. Daniel, I think you hit the nail on the head with his support system. Agudelo does not have to carry his club, and he is not even the biggest star or highest paid player. He can learn from the international experience of Backe and Henry, as well as his veteran teammates. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.

  3. I don’t think that Adu’s pressure was what made him “fade”

    Professional baseball is full of guys that were going to be great at age 16-17. I know more than one guy that signed for over a million dollars only to not even make the big leagues for one pitch.

    Agudelo looks very good, but whether is Agudelo or someone else ( there are a LOT of players out there now ) who takes the US to the next level, the US will be taken to the next level by the time they hopefully play here in 2022.

    1. I don’t think quality service is a big problem with the US team – the midfield is actually our biggest strength. With Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, and now Holden and Jermaine Jones, I think we’re pretty deep in that department.

      1. Man you must be out of your mind! Quality service is one of the big problem in the usmnt team. We need a playmaker( an attacking midfielder) like Diskerud that keep pushing forward and be able to take on players one on one and feed the forwards, otherwise our forwards will be isolated and sitting ducks.
        I’m dying to see Diskerud attacking in the box again. He might be the answer for the usmnt.

  4. I saw Agudelo and JP Angel dismantle Toronto FC in a pre-season friendly in Orlando, Florida this February. The kid has a very smooth touch (unlike poor Altidore), he is very quick, plays w/ confidence, is not afraid to take on people, and has a great vision of the game.
    I also saw Najar in per-season in Florida. I hope Andy choses to play for the US; he is a special player…
    With these two, US can become a legitimate powerhouse in football and (hopefully) abandon the “kick and run” style of play.
    Remember what Klinsman said at the World cup studios about US soccer? First touch, first touch, first touch. Both Najar and Agudelo have that all important first touch, and that makes a difference.

  5. Some of the guys last night need another go, and some need to go away forever. Here is what I think the next experimental 18 called up might be:

    Guzan – Cervi
    Agbossoumonde – Borchers – Bornsetin – Goodson – Ream – Lichaj
    Gaven – Diskerud – Bedoya – Donovan – Torres – Feilhaber – Beckerman
    Agudelo – Altidore – Casey

    They might stick with the defense and see if it can hold up again, minus Spector who was just awful. I thought Gaven, Diskerud, and Bedoya did enough. I’d like to see them link up with a more veteran Donovan and Feilhaber, and yes I think Beckerman and Torres should get other shots at potential call ups. Agudelo needs another game to see if he’s legit, Altidore needs toucher on a ball, and Casey can potentially get there if he can lead Colorado to an MLS Cup.

    1. I think Bradley will need the Bully Conor Casey to play some Concacaf games away for the Us. He is strong and during the Concacaf Bradley is gonna need his service over there. Those countries are very hard to play. It’s hot, humide and those guys are very bigssssss!!!!!!!

  6. Eh, USA will continue getting better as more people get to enjoy the game here but they will never be a major force in the world

    If the future was actually bright, there would be numerous stars

  7. Well I wonder if the USMNT have any actual native born american background players???? I mean you have to question where the pool is comming from when all your players dont have a american background. You also have to question the development of the USMNT, are they really looking for domestic players or poaching from nearby countries???

    1. So if someone isn’t native-born they aren’t American?

      That’s the nature of our country. A lot of people were born elsewhere. We are a country of immigrants – always have been, always will be.

    2. OK, I’ll get that memo to Bob Bradley to stop holding guns to the heads of the foreign born players who really don’t want to play with our team, but are being forced against their will to participate. How dare we?!?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *