• Agudelo Becomes the Youngest Player to Score for the United States in the Modern Era
• Agbossoumonde, Agudelo Becomes first U.S. Soccer Development Academy Alumni to Earn a Cap
• Five Players Make U.S. MNT Debut
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (Nov. 17, 2010) – Seventeen-year-old forward Juan Agudelo, the first product of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy to make an appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team, became the youngest player to score in the modern era as the U.S. defeated South Africa 1-0 to win the 2010 Nelson Mandela Challenge in Cape Town, South Africa.
Youth was the theme of the day as defender Tim Ream earned his first appearance in a U.S. starting lineup that averaged just 10.5 caps per player. After halftime, four of the six substitutions for the U.S. were 20 years old or younger and making their international debut, including Gale Agbossoumonde who became was the second Development Academy product to take the field.
“I thought that both teams were able to pressure and make it difficult for each other, and South Africa put the pressure on us more in the first half,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. We weren’t able to connect a lot of passes, but we did a solid job of holding together defensively. I thought Brad Guzan played very well. As the game went on, we found a little bit of ability to connect. It was exciting for us to see some of our young players get an opportunity to play for the national team.”
After 84 minutes of scoreless soccer, the U.S. broke through with Agudelo combining with fellow debutant Mikkel Diskerud for the 85th minute strike. From a throw in on the left wing, Eddie Gaven droped the ball back to Brian Carroll and he spun to play the ball square to Clarence Goodson who stepped up across midfield. Goodson played a ball to Agudelo, who had checked back 30 yards from the endline.
The New York Red Bulls Academy alum turned and slotted a ball into the left side of the penalty area for Diskerud, who attracted the attention of three defenders. Agudelo made a hard near post run, and Diskerud pulled the ball back before playing a hard chip right into Agudelo’s path. The 17-year-old trapped the ball off his thigh before blasting a shot with the outside of his right foot, past the charging ‘keeper, off the underside of the crossbar and in.
Agudelo is the 46th player in U.S. history to record a goal in his first cap, and the first since Stuart Holden struck in his debut against Grenada on July 4, 2009.
Brad Guzan wore the captain’s armband for the U.S. for the first time in his career and the 26-year-old goalkeeper earned ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors for his five save performance and general command of his penalty area, particularly on crosses immediately in front of his goal.
Guzan’s two best efforts came in the 14th and 20th minutes as he came out to the corner of his six-yard box and went low to stop nearly identical efforts off the foot of Anele Ngcongca and Bernard Parker, respectively.
In front of Guzan, Bradley went with a mix of experience and youth on the back line. Eric Lichaj earned his second cap at right back while Ream debuted in the middle with 2010 FIFA World Cup veterans Clarence Goodson and Jonathan Bornstein rounding out the defense.
Lichaj played hard at both ends, and in the 22nd minute set up the first shot on goal by the U.S. in the match. The Aston Villa defender dug in at the endline after an overlapping run and went to the ground to win a ball that he dropped back for Eddie Gaven. Gaven quickly squared the ball to his Columbus Crew teammate Robbie Rogers, who hit a left-footed shot that was saved low and to the right by Itumeleng Khune in the South African goal.
Other than the goal, the U.S. only had three other shots on target in the match. The second was also set up by Lichaj, who played a chip into the box that Teal Bunbury settled, and was able to turn and get a shot on goal low to the near post that Khune saved in the 55th minute. One minute later Gaven tried to create for himself but Khune had time to see his 19-yard effort and caught it easily.
With the MLS Playoff semifinal matches taking place last weekend and the top players abroad in the U.S. player pool entrenched in their club season, Bradley called upon the relatively inexperienced side for the final match of the year.
Brian Carroll, who last played in January of 2009, and Logan Pause, who debuted for the U.S in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup partnered well as central midfielders. Defender Nat Borchers, a 2010 MLS Best XI selection, wore the U.S. shirt for the first time since March 19, 2005.
In all, five players – Agudelo, Agbossoumonde, Bunbury, Diskerud and Ream – made the U.S. Men’s National Team debut and help earn the win that drew the 2010 record to 5-5-4 for the U.S. It is the most players to debut in a game since a friendly against South Korea on December 9, 2001 (Carlos Bocanegra, Jeff Cunningham, Diego Gutierrez, Manny Lagos, Richard Mulrooney, and Brian West).
The match was the 12th in South Africa during the last three years and one day. The U.S posted a 6-4-2 record there while 41 different U.S. players earned a cap in the home of the 2010 FIFA World Cup between Nov. 17, 2007 – the prior date of a U.S. 1-0 win in the Mandela Challenge – and today.
“We have had great experiences here in South Africa starting with the Nelson Mandela Challenge in 2007,” Bradley said. “Once again we thank everybody for the way we have been treated every step of the way.”
The U.S. team has been honored with an invitation to visit President Nelson Mandela. The team departs for Johannesburg tomorrow morning and will spend time with Mr. Mandela in the afternoon before departing South Africa.
With the match, the U.S. Soccer Federation sought to leave a legacy in the country that served as a second home for nearly three years to the U.S. team. In conjunction with the South African Football Association, U.S. Soccer donated $125,000 to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
During the visit, Bradley attended a field dedication at the Irene Middle School where U.S. Soccer donated $20,000 to renovate a field two miles from their World Cup base camp. The team also made a special trip to the Football for Hope Center in Khayelitsha to visit the Grassroots Soccer program, which is dedicated to educating and raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.
While many on the U.S. roster are looking forward to the Major League Soccer offseason or winter break in their European leagues, the two youngest members of the U.S. squad Agudelo and Agbossoumonde head to Kennesaw, Ga., for an Under-20 MNT camp and matches against Colombia and Mexico during the Thanksgiving weekend.
The U.S. will play its first match of 2011 when it faces Chile on Saturday, Jan. 22, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., to open the year in its regular match that acts as the conclusion to the January training camp. Kickoff for the match is set for 7 p.m. PT, and broadcast information will be announced in the near future.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. South Africa
Date: November 17, 2010
Competition: Nelson Mandela Challenge
Venue: Green Point Stadium – Cape Town, South Africa
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 68 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
RSA 0 0 0
USA – Juan Agudelo (Mikkel Diskerud) 85th minute
USA: 18-Brad Guzan (capt.);13-Eric Lichaj, 21-Clarence Goodson (22-Gale Agbossoumonde, 87), 5-Tim Ream (6-Nat Borchers, 67), 12-Jonathan Bornstein (2-Jonathan Spector, 46); 15-Logan Pause, 16-Brian Carroll; 8-Robbie Rogers (17-Juan Agudelo, 61), 11-Eddie Gaven, 7-Alejandro Bedoya (14-Mikkel Diskerud, 79); 20-Robbie Findley (9-Teal Bunbury, 46)
Subs not used: 23-Dominic Cervi
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
RSA: 16-Itumeleng Khune; 5-Anele Ngongca (2-Siboniso Gaxa, 79), 3-Tsepo Mansilela, 23-Morgan Gould, 21-Siyabonga Sangweni, 13-Kagisho Dikgacoi (15-Andile Jali, 60), 18-Thanduyise Khuboni (9-Matthew Pattison, 88), 10-Stephen Pienaar (capt.) (7-Daylon Claasen, 79), 8-Siphiwe Tshabalala, 19-Davide Somma (20-Sthembiso Ngcobo, 60), 17-Bernard Parker
Subs not used: 1-Moeneeb Josephs, 4-Keegan Ritchie, 12-Reneilwe Letsholonyane, 24-Kermit Erasmus, 14-Bevan Fransman, 11-Teko Modise
Head Coach: Pitso Mosimane
Stats Summary: USA / RSA
Shots 5 / 8
Shots on Goal 4 / 4
Saves 4 / 3
Corner Kicks 1 / 11
Fouls 11 / 9
Offside 0 / 2
USA – Eric Lichaj (caution) 33rd minute
Referee: Sylvester Kirwa (KEN)
First Asst.: John Ngururi (KEN)
Second Asst.: Peter Kieveini (KEN)
Fourth Official: Faiek Daniels (RSA)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Brad Guzan