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Agudelo and Chandler bring Americans to life
by Paul Kennedy, March 26th, 2011 11:27PM

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TAGS:  argentina, men's national team

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[USA-ARGENTINA] 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.

Three things we didn't liked about the U.S. performance ...

-- It's hard to remember the last time the USA was as badly dominated as it was for much of the first half against Messi and Co. Minutes went by with the Americans pinned down their third of the field. Fortunately, Argentina failed to capitalize on its 14-6 edge in shots.

-- Credit to the U.S. defense for holding the Argentines to one goal, but its inability to hold possession is a continuing liability. As the game wore on and the Argentines tired, their best chances came from sloppy play by the Americans.

-- The use of three holding midfielders -- Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu and Jones -- in the middle of midfield didn't work out. Jones was largely invisible and came off at the half for Agudelo.



0 comments
  1. Lloyd Elling
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 7:55 a.m.
    We all tuned in to watch Messi do his magic and we were not disappointed. He is spectacular. The Argentines frequently controlled 10-12 consecutive touches. The USA never got past 5-6 such touches. We never produced precision passes. Tim Howard was nearly as spectacular as Messi for the USA...thank you Tim for keeping the USA in the match as we could have been down 3-0 in the first half. He was our MAN OF THE MATCH. Bocanegra's strong header delivered perfectly from Donovan and finished by our teenager, Juan Agudelo, was a bright moment for the USA. However, it was the decision by Coach Bradley to bring in Agudelo and Chandler and switching to a 4-4-2...that was the key moment in the USA making a game of it. I am encouraging Coach Bradley to make more changes. Our defenders banged the ball out of danger and continually lost it. They were like statues as Argentina moved the ball around them with ease. Physically strong defenders works on occasion, but defenders who have quick step speed, can dribble and pass will take us to the top of the world.

  1. Heather Scott-molleda
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 8:59 a.m.
    I think you are missing the point and are being overly critical of the US effort in the first half. Clearly Bradley's strategy was to frustrate and shutdown the Argentine attack, and the strategy worked brilliantly! Had the played 4-4-2 in the first half there would have been more than one goal. Messi was brilliant, but did he score? Did he even have any threatening shots? No, because he was shut down! And the US created some good counter attacks in the first half, including a terrific shot by Dempsey and good play by Donovan. Of course Altidore was miserable in the first half, he was essentially playing defense! I would have liked to see him more active in that role, but not much he could do. Was not impressed by Jones, except for another rash challenge which deserved a yellow. With Argentina tired and frustrated, Bradley switched tactics in the 2nd half and it worked! Agudelo had a great goal, off a great cross from Donovan and a terrific header by Bocanegra. And there were several more chances created by Chandler. Kudos to Bradely on his strategy. Who cares if Argentina dominated possession if nothing comes of it!

  1. Bill Ford
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.
    Actually Lloyd is right on point. Living by counter play and set pieces will never win us a World Cup. It obvious this team does not have the technical skill and IQ to hold possession.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 10:41 a.m.
    BB has proven once again he can prepare a team to survive and perhaps get the USA out of the first round of the WC. By now, shouldn't we be looking and wantng more from the efforts and resources we have put into this program?

  1. Karl Ortmertl
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 11:57 a.m.
    Argentina is clearly one of the top teams in the world and showed it once again. I like them better in friendlies than in the competitions because they play a lot looser. It's no disgrace to be outplayed by Argentina, they're simply better than the US, both as a team and individually. We're very far away from actually being competitive with them. But there are really only a handful of national teams at the Argentinian level. I don't see us ever really moving up. You need a soccer culture with kids living and breathing soccer. Our culture of soccer moms carting our kids off to soccer games and practices controlled by banal soccer coaches will never get it done. And speaking of banality, as long as Bradley is running the team, there is no hope of moving to the next (Argentina's) level

  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.
    Heather, that "strategy" you refer to is too risky. I don't believe for one minute that BB game planned it the way you stated it. He made the second half changes because he needed scoring not because he knew Argentina would be "tired and frustrated." Absent Stuart Holden, this is the top starting 11 the US puts on the pitch. I'm almost certain BB believed the starters would be a winning combination.

  1. Kerry Ogden
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 1:10 p.m.
    Argentina didn't dissapoint but neither did the US. Most people forget that some of the US starters last night are benchwarmers in Europe and the MLS season just started so preparing a strong team is hard to do. The US did good to contain Messi and other Argentina players in the first half regardless of ball position, this same situation occured during the first UEFA match between Barcelona and Arsenal where Argentina controlled the ball 80% or more during the first half of their game and then Arsenal's defense caught on the Barcelona's tactical play and was able to shut Messi down and win the first of the two games with still less ball possession. It might have been BB strategy to have the US men play this way in the first half of last nights game but we as spectators will never know. The second half the WHOLE team picked up the pace and created the goal scoring opportunity thanks to Landon,C. Dempsey and J. Agudelo. The MVP would definately have to go to Tim Howard, excellent job last night Tim!!!!!!!!! Our future in soccer is not going to be as good or as great as we would want it to be.We live in an area of the world where severe weather, short summers, AND THE COST of soccer are killing our chances to eventually get to the top of the soocer charts. The cost of premier league's in the Northeast is extremely expensive, most lower middle class families cannot afford this cost so acquiring top level atheles is not alway possible. I also see lack of creative play during scrimmaging and practice which the coaches do not allow at all, this is one area the Central and South America teams outshine the rest of the world in, creative play on the pitch. We can only hope that maybe someday things will change for the US, only time will tell.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 2:09 p.m.
    Heather, you are living in a dream world. The "strategy" was for the defense to scramble and rely on Argentina missing or Tim Howard pulling rabbits out of hats? That is absurd, and insulting to the team. I suppose Bob's M.O. is to go down a goal in every game. ??????????????Why would anyone believe that nonsense?????????????

  1. Andrew Post
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.
    Once again, favortism reigns supreme with bob bradley as his son michael was given the starting nod despite not playing for an extended period of time while on lone to Aston Villa. The 4-5-1 formation was a poor choice and with no attacking mids even on the roster(don't even say Kljestan) what did you expect but a US team on its heals. Altidore did little up top in the first half and needs to understand his role when in a 4-5-1. You cannot take on 3 defenders with your skill set Jozy! Bradley's coaching skill are laughable at the international level. His favoritism towards players (Michael bradley, ricardo clark) are unprofessional. Chandler and Agudelo offer hope for the USMNT. Chandler outplayed Spector and looked like a starting right back(FINALLY). Agudelo reminds me of Charlie Davies in his hay day. The only hope for the USMNT is if Bradley is gone. Then we can really grow and get better. Until that day we will be mediocre.

  1. Andrew Post
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 5:07 p.m.
    Heather, I agree with Bill here. A 4-5-1 formation admits to the other team, "We are inferior so we will put as many guys in the box to stop you". This is the formatio used by away teams when the conditions are very poor and you want to go home with atleast a tie. If you are going to play this kind of formation than you need a speedster up top. Altidore is not a speedster. And finally, in a 4-5-1, do not play 3 defensive mids! You need an attacking mid to give some sort of indiacation that you will try to score a goal on the other end. When did the game change? Well heather it was when the US went to the 4-4-2. You see, in a 4-4-2 it doesn't allow the other team to commit as many players forward as ARG did the first half. This was the key to the turn around in the second half. Also the threat of Chandler down the right side helped keep ARG outside mids honest. With that said, Chandler really put it to the ARG defenders on the right side. The only thing lacking in the second half was an attacking mid. Sorry M. Bradley, you are not, nor will you ever, be an attacking mid. You basically stink and are playing on daddy's favoritism.

  1. Eric Hernandez
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 8:41 p.m.
    4-5-1, well lets just say it was painful to watch, but I have seen some of the best in the world riddle around the same way, we came back once we became aggressive and changed the pace of the match, maybe we should continue along the same path of change with our head coach and some of the old guard that we are still relying on. Time to bring up the young guns and give them the experience they need, some of the players that were on the field yesterday had their day, its time to move on Coach.

  1. Heather Scott-molleda
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 9:38 p.m.
    Umm ... did anyone see Mourinho stop Barcelona last year? I rest my case. In an ideal world we would have a team full of Messi's and could match up for 90 minutes. Meanwhile, you do what you can with what you got, and can't fault Bradley for that.

  1. Chris Hester
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 10:33 p.m.
    I don't know what Bradley is thinking. Edu is awful. How Bocanegra got a rating of 4 is a joke, he was pathetic. Donavan is at his best against Concacaf Teams and MLS teams. He never shows up against real teams. If you think Donavan is the best player ever for USA, you know nothing about soccer. It is time to play younger players and get ready for next World Cup. If countries like Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain will play 18 & 19 year olds, why is Bradley so hesitant. Oh yeah, but he is not a good coach. How does Donavan get a rating of 6, he didn't even touch the ball 6 times and most of those was on set plays.

  1. Eric Hernandez
    commented on: March 27, 2011 at 10:55 p.m.
    I agree, time to give the 2010 oh yah that didn't work out to well, well time to give the Id2, the Academy based, elite league programs players a shot at the title coach, its obvious we got some talent out there. Time to tap into it before we lose it like we lost Rossi to la liga, we got talent and its time the federation begin to look into those little corners of our country for them, coaches and players alike.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 9:46 p.m.
    Another tepid performance by BB's team. Game plan (4-5-1) continues to restrict individual players. For every 10 touches Messi had on the ball Donovan/Dempsey had 1; those players that need to have the ball lacked it and those that didn't want the ball booted it to no one in particular. Indeed, BB got a good result, thanks to Howard, otherwise, it's a different story. Relying on Howard and not improving the team with quality players and offensive tactics is still the crux of the problem. Time to sit Michael B down and look for a better combo. P.S. We could have used the quality of Subotic and Rossi in the lineup.

  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 11:07 p.m.
    Did someone just submit a post comparing Bob Bradley to Jose Mourinho?

  1. Andrew Post
    commented on: March 31, 2011 at 6:12 p.m.
    Yes someone just did compare the two. Someone also said "you just have to do the best with what you got, so you can't blame bob". What is the country smoking!!!! Bradley couldn't win the world cup with a mixture of starters from Spain, Brazil, and Argentina. BRADLEY IS THE PROBLEM FOLKS. HE WOULD FIND A WAY TO START M. BRADLEY AND BUILD THE TEAM AROUND HIM. GIVE ME A BREAK. LEARN THE GAME OF SOCCER, FROM EUROPE, SOUTH AMERICAN, HECK EVEN AFRICA, THEN POST ON HERE SOMETHING INTELLIGENT.


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