I saw the US Men’s National Team game vs. Chile tonight. Neither team called its experienced players so a lot of youngsters played. The US looked like men at a track meet with their hair on fire whose wives just went into labor. It had the tactical nous of a U12 rec league match, but with eleven year-olds on meth. As with any jag, it had to end. Around the 34th minute all the sprinting and sliding subsided and a soccer game ensued.
This second stage of slower bad soccer lasted until the 60th minute. Coach Bob Bradley brought on two players who changed the complexion of the game, Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo. With them up top, the US looked like a team that knew how to play.
Agudelo made a contribution, dribbling into the Chilean penalty area where he was brought down by a late tackle. Bunbury converted the penalty with ease and the US gained a 1-1 draw. But his bigger contribution was to make intelligent plays throughout the 30 minutes he was called upon. He accelerated, stopped, played the ball back, held it up, and played quickly, depending on the circumstances. He gave the game rhythm and the US started to gain possession and position. Watch this young guy. His father played for Canada and it is clear there’s soccer blood in his veins.
Speaking of changing the complexion of the game, the entries of defender Anthony Wallace
and goalkeeper Sean Johnson introduced two more African-American players for the US. The diversity on our roster at the National team level is a promising sign and speaks to the success of programs like Generation Adidas, finding and developing youth players from all parts of the country.
Some of the guys on the field tonight may never develop the smarts to play at this level; they had speed to burn, but that isn’t all it takes. But watch for Bunbury, Agudelo, and Johnson, along with the more experienced Bedoya and captain McCarthy, in the future. Especially Bunbury, he’s got a good head on his shoulders.