Sunday, March 27, 2011

Agudelo leads second half surge for US vs. Argentina

An exciting night in New Jersey last night as an inspired second half performance led the United States to come back and draw versus Lionel Messi and Argentina, 1-1.

Paul Kennedy of Soccer America recaps the action.

After being totally dominated in the first half, the USA earned a 1-1 tie against Argentina on the goal by teenager Juan Agudelo before his hometown fans at the New Meadowlands Stadium. It was a game of two halves: total domination by Lionel Messi and Co., in the first and a much-improved U.S. effort after the insertion of Agudelo and Timothy Chandler, making his U.S. debut. Here's what we liked and didn't like about the U.S. performance ...

Three things we liked about the U.S. performance ...

-- After being badly outplayed in the first half, the USA played Argentina pretty even in the second half. Its approach changed as it brought Juan Agudelo in for Jermaine Jones and its 4-5-1 formation become a 4-4-2. Agudelo rewarded the confidence Bob Bradley has in him with the tying goal. And the 18-year-old forward had several other chances later in the game to put the USA ahead. Agudelo's insertion up front also brought Jozy Altidore to life and he played much better after a rather miserable time up front as the lone attacked in the first half.

-- Timothy Chandler's U.S. debut began with a yellow card just three minutes into the second half when he came on for Jonathan Spector, but the German product soon found his rhythm and contributed several dangerous crosses from the right wing. He should get a start against Paraguay on Tuesday -- his 21st birthday.

-- Tim Howard's performances for the USA and Everton have been up and down in the last year, but there was nothing to fault about his effort against Argentina. He blocked Angel Di Maria's close-in shot with his foot but had no chance on the rebound put away by Esteban Cambiasso. Howard made several stops on Di Maria and Lionel Messi from short range.

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