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The kids are alright: Young USMNT team shows moxie in gritty draw vs. Chile

Last night saw a very young USMNT roster leaving even some diehards saying "The Who?".  In fact, 23 year-old Alejandro Bedoya was the player with the most caps for the US with a total of 6 and 23 year-old Dax McCarty wore the captain's arm band.  Many other players earned their 1st or 2nd cap by playing including the Chicago Fire's own Sean Johnson.  It definitely was a snapshot of the future for the US National Team. 

If you matched, you may have wondered where Landon Donovan and his distribution and set piece deliveries were.  Gone also was Tim Howard minding the goal.  There was no Carlos Bocanegra or Steve Cherundolo protecting the backline.  No, this game was a buildup of many young US stars who participated in a 3 week camp in preparation for this game.  Follow me after the break for a recap of the action...

The game started off with a bit of back and forth the first few minutes.  Both teams were trying to get in a rhythm, and there wasn't a whole lot of notable action.  Shortly after, Chile started the attacking and would come up with the first threat.  US defender Sean Franklin committed a bad tackle JUST outside of the 18 for a dangerous free kick in the 7th minute.  It was from an odd angle, coming from the side of the goal.  Tim Ream tried to deflect the ball, and missed.  Thankfully, Nick Rimando came up with a big save to quench the threat.

After this, the US started to step up their own offense.  Mikkel Diskerud started making a few plays and distributing the ball, and the US put together a nice little couple minutes of attack right around the 12th minute.  This nearly paid off when Dax McCarty ripped a shot from the front of the goal, about 10 yards outside of the 18 yard box.  The Chile keeper had to jump to deflect the ball over the post.  Although nothing came out of the corner, Chris Wondolowski also forced the Chilean net minder to a save shortly after.  It was a nice little run for the US, but nothing came out of it.  The rest of the half played out about the same for a 0-0 score going into the break.

The second half definitely changed things.  Our beloved Sean Johnson came into goal, taking over for Rimando.  Just into the second half, at the 54 minute mark, Chile ended up scoring.  Marvell Wynne came in at the start of the 2nd half for Omar Gonzalez.  And he started off very shaky.  He lost Chilean Esteban Paredes, and then failed to clear a ball that should have been taken care of.  Paredes was just outside the 6 yard box, just about in the center of the goal.  He controlled the bounce of the ball, had his back to Johnson, and still managed to spin around with a scissor kick for the goal.  Sean Johnson didn't really ever have a chance on that shot from point blank range.  It was simply miscommunication and bad defending on the US's part.

The American attack got a much needed shot in the arm with Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury coming into the game in the 60th minute for Brek Shea and Wondolowski .  This of course brought an immediate impact on the game, with the US kicking things in to gear.  We immediately began pushing the attack, and scoring chances were becoming more realistic.  Teal Bunbury especially looked very good, and Agudelo continued to impress as well.  New York Red Bull fans should be VERY happy with Agudelo, as well as Sporting KC fans with Bunbury. 

The US kept their foot on the gas, with Alejandro Bedoya overrunning a loose ball in the box that would have been a nice tap in had the timing been right.  After a bit of back and forth action, things finally worked out for the US.  Juan Agudelo started a beautiful give and go just out side of the 18.  Once he got into the 18, a Chilean defender ended up taking out Agudelo's foot.  There was a bit of controversy on the call.  He did get Agudelo's foot, but he also got part of the ball, and, in my opinion, we got lucky.  It really shouldn't have been a PK, but hey, after being robbed blind by bad calls in the World Cup, I'll take it.  Agudelo was pleading to finish off what he started, but Teal Bunbury ended up netting the game tying goal home in the low right corner of the net.  He took the kick well, and both he and Agudelo celebrated by doing pretty decent versions of the Dougie.

The ebb and flow of the final 15 minutes was back and forth, though Sean Johnson didn't really ever get tested after the Chilean goal.  The match ended a 1-1 draw, and for my money, clearly Agudelo and Bunbury were the highlights and spark plugs of the game.  Diskerud, who assisted Agudelo on the game winning goal in the previous friendly against South Africa, put in another quality performance.  I am really excited to watch him play in the future.  Tim Ream played solidly as well.  All in all, I was pleased with the team's performance.  They only had a few weeks to train together and they still played a nice match.  It definitely is heartening for US fans to watch some of our future USMNT players.  We will need the striking abilities Agudelo and Bunbury have shown as Jozy Altidore is learning, but struggles to score at times.  With Charlie Davies career still up in the air, it's good to see the early potential shown from the young US strikers.  Congratulations to Sean Johnson on his first USMNT cap and we wish the team luck in their next game, a friendly against Egypt in Cairo just a couple of weeks away on February 9, 2011.