BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The youth of the United States national team shined on Wednesday night as Mikkel Diskerud and Juan Agudelo combined for the game winning goal in the 85th minute to give the US a victory over South Africa in Cape Town.
Coming into today's game against South Africa, the US national team was not given much of a shot given the inexperienced roster that head coach Bob Bradley had selected. South Africa, on the other hand, were bringing a strong team.
But the young American players would be up for the task.
In the starting lineup, New York Red Bulls rookie defender Tim Ream was given the start in central defense for his first cap. Also, Aston Villa right back Eric Lichaj earned the start for his second cap.
The backline was tested from the onset but limited South Africa to few dangerous scoring opportunities.
South Africa's best chance of the first half was in the 20th minute after Ream was beaten by Bernard Parker but Guzan was able to close down on Parker and make a nice save from short distance.
Two minutes later, the US had their best chance of the half when Lichaj moved into the attack and slid a pass back to Eddie Gaven just off the end line.
Gaven found an open Robbie Rogers who unleashed a powerful shot from 18 yards that South African keeper Itumeleng Khune had to make a diving stop to his right.
At halftime, Bradley removed Jonathan Bornstein for Jonathan Spector and also replaced an ineffective Robbie Findley for Teal Bunbury who made his US debut after representing Canada at the youth levels.
The US attack became more organized as a result. In the 55th minute, Bunbury unleashed a shot after receiving a pass from Lichaj. The shot, however, was right at Khune who made the save.
In the 60th minute, South Africa subbed off an ineffective Davide Somma who was making his South African debut. The forward made headlines before the match stating that he wanted to "destroy the US" because he felt slighted that he was never given a chance by the US. It was an odd claim given that he is only a greencard holder and not an actual US citizen.
Also in the 60th minute, Bradley subbed Juan Agudelo into the match for Rogers. It was the first cap for the 17 year old Colombian born Agudelo.
The Bafana Bafana continued to push forward in the attack but were constantly turned away by the US defense.
Bradley then injected even more attack-minded youth in the 76th minute when he brought on 20 year old Mikkel Diskerud who currently plays for Stabaek in Norway.
In the 85th minute, Bradley's substitutions would pay huge dividends when Diskerud collected the ball inside the box and made a great pass through the South African defense that connected with an onrushing Agudelo.
The New York Red Bull was able to shoot with the outside of his right foot past Khune, off the inside of the crossbar and into the net.
With the goal, Agudelo became the youngest player to ever score for the US national team.
In the final minutes, the US fended off the South African attack and the American defense was bolstered by US U20 national team captain Gale Agbossoumonde who, like the others, made his international debut when he came on in the 88th minute.
With the win, the US closed out their 2010 year with an introduction of the talent that Bradley will be using moving forward.
Agudelo, Diskerud, Lichaj, and Ream, whom all played, stand to be regulars with the team moving forward.
After finding out whether or not their bid to host the 2022 World Cup is successful in just a little more than 16 days, the US will next take on Chile in a friendly at the Home Depot Center on January 22nd.