The first match of the 2011 season for the US Men’s National Team was once again at the Home Depot Center as the kids were ready to play against a solid opponent from South America in Chile. You have to say from the first minute until the last, they played with alot of energy and looked solid.
Chile would get the first goal of the match in the 53rd minute when Felipe Seymour took advantage of some sloppy defending and rainbowed a nice cross to Esteban Paredes who settled it down and took a solid shot against second half keeper Sean Johnson and buried it for the lead.
But when Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo subbed into the match at the 60th minute, you could see things changing very quickly. Both players made some nice attacking runs and started to give the Chileans fits. In the 75th minute Agudelo entered the area with the ball and was tripped up by Francisco Silva. The referee pointed to the spot and a penalty was given to the USA. Bunbury calmly walked up to the spot and buried it into the low corner of the near side of the net for the equalizer.
There are those who questioned after the match why Bob Bradley didn’t put Agudelo & Bunbury into the starting eleven if they can make this type of magic in the second half. Well I can understand a little bit why; he didn’t want to overwhelm these two off the bat. I think Bob Bradley quickly understands what fantastic players he has in these two strikers and can make plenty of magic.
The opening ten minutes of the match you could see their nerves showing and Chile taking advantage early with a sloppy foul by Sean Franklin that was just outside the US area in the 6th minute. It was so close to the US area Franklin is lucky the referee didn’t signal a penalty for Chile, but when the free kick was taken Nick Rimando was able to make a great save and snagged the rebound in the air.
After their nerves were settled the young kids finally started to make some runs of their own especially from former FC Dallas man and currently with DC United Dax McCarty lashed a 35 yard bomb that forced Chilean keeper Paulo Garces to make a spectacular save with his fingers to parry the ball over the crossbar.
After the first ninety minutes of the 2011 season we can assess that the kids showed plenty of energy, nerves, confidence and didn’t get down when they were behind on the scoreboard. Some are already comparing the Agudelo-Bunbury pair up with the Jozy Altidore-Charlie Davies pair up. But one thing I can say is true, those two have to watch their backs now because the new flavors of the month are right behind them.
It’s not really fair to judge Sean Johnson’s first 45 minutes as he really didn’t get much work done except for allowing the goal that only time, but right now the kids are looking pretty good and most of them I would assume will be heading for the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament to enter this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia.