BARINAS, Venezuela (July 2, 2007) â€” In a match similar to their setback against Argentina four days earlier, a young U.S. Menâ€™s National Team took a 1-1 game into the second half but could not convert their chances and eventually succumbed to Paraguay 3-1 in the teamâ€™s second Group C match of the 2007 Copa America in Estadio Agustin Tovar in Barinas, Venezuela.
Once again, the U.S. team featured a line-up that included six players with fewer than 10 caps, just one week removed from qualifying for a spot in the prestigious 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa by winning the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship.
"I feel very good about the young players that we have here with us," said U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller after the game. "We played very well, we just gave them a couple of easy chances, and when you give a good team and good players, easy chances, they are going to beat you. This is why we are here. We are here to give these guys this experience. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to make mistakes to learn. Hopefully now as we go forward in this tournament and into future games, we have learned from this experience and will be better for it."
Despite creating more than a half-dozen quality scoring chances throughout the game, the U.S. could only find the net once in the match through a great Ricardo Clark strike in the 40th minute. The U.S. remains alive for a sport in the second round, as a victory over Colombia on July 5 could still see the team through with three points. In order for that possibility to exist, though, the U.S. will need to finish as one of the two best third-place teams in the competition, something that is mathematically still very much a possibility with four other teams in Group A and B all sitting on three points (Peru, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile). Should any of those four teams lose and finish in third place in their group, the U.S. would need to better them on goal differential to advance.
The U.S. had two chances in the games opening 15 minutes to strike first, with Ben Olsen finding Sacha Kljestan for an unmarked header from just three yards out that was missed wide, and then Drew Moor hitting a perfect pass from the midfield into the path of Eddie Johnson, who stabbed at the ball, but couldn't make contact at the penalty spot. A few minutes later, Paraguay hit the U.S. post on a corner kick battle between Taylor Twellman and Dario Veron.
Paraguay opened the scoring with a brilliant attack right down the heart of the U.S. defense, with Oscar Cardozo playing a nice one-two with Roque Santa Cruz and then slotting a quick pass behind the last line of defense and into the area for Edgar Barreto to lift over Keller with a simple one-on-one finish.
The U.S. goal came 10 minutes later, with Clark firing a rocket along the ground and into the lower right corner of the goal from 18 yards out. Taylor Twellman had the assist on the goal, swinging his leg to smack a great cross-field pass from Moor backwards into Clark's path. The goal was the result of sustained possession by the United States, with Clark actually starting the possession in the USA half and Jonathan Bornstein and Benny Feilhaber helping to move the ball around. For Clark, the goal is his first in nine appearances for the United States.
In the second half, the USA created two quick chances in the opening minute, and seemed to have the upper hand in the match, only to gift Paraguay the winning goal in the 56th minute. The goal came on a poor back pass from Bornstein that died in the heavy turf, leaving defender Jimmy Conrad and Keller stranded as Edgar Cardozo swooped in and easily stuck the ball into the upper left corner of the goal from 15 yards out.
"The result is difficult for us tonight," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley after the game. "We feel that the effort of the team was strong, nonetheless we didnâ€™t do very well with some of the chances that we created, and we certainly made a mistake that Paraguay was able to take advantage of."
In the 75th minute, Feilhaber sprung second-half substitute Justin Mapp, who used his speed and pace to race into the area and lift a soft chip over goalkeeper Aldo Bobadilla, that stayed high and bounced off the back brace of the goal. That attempt was the best of a number of chances for Mapp, who was able to apply sustained pressure on the Paraguayan defense throughout his 20 minutes of action.
Perhaps the biggest miss of the match, though, came from F.C. Dallas defender Moor, who played very well in his international debut for the United States. On the play, the Paraguayan defense parted at the top of the goalkeeper area on a cross from Clark that left Moor all alone with an open header. The surprising defensive lapse caught every one off guard, including Moor who headed the ball straight at Bobadilla for the easy save.
Paraguay iced the game in the third minute of stoppage time with Salvador Cabanas scoring his third goal of the tournament on a free kick from 22 yards that sneaked just inside the right post past a diving Keller. Cabanas earned the free kick at the top of the area after a foul from defender Danny Califf.
Feilhaber and Bornstein are now the first duo to earn 10 or more caps in their first year with the menâ€™s team. Claudio Reyna was the most recent of five players to have previously opened his career with 10 or more caps, making a rookie-record 19 appearances in his first year with the team in 1994. Also, Moor became the 16th player to earn his first career cap in 2007, the most in any year since Brad Friedel, Cobi Jones and Joe-Max Moore were among the 21 debutantes in 1992, but well behind the record of 49 players set in 1973.
The U.S. concludes Group C action against Colombia on Thursday, July 5 at Estadio Metropolitano de Futbol de Lara in Barquisimeto at 6:30 p.m. ET (live on on GolTV and Telefutura). Fans can also follow the action on ussoccer.comâ€™s MatchTracker.
-- U.S. Menâ€™s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Paraguay
Date: July 2, 2007
Competition: Copa America â€“ Group C
Venue: Estadio Agustin Tovar â€“ Barinas, Venezuela
Kickoff: 6:40 p.m. ET
Weather: 84 degrees, scattered clouds
Scoring Summary:Â Â 1Â Â 2Â Â F
USAÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1Â Â 0Â Â 1
ParaguayÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1Â Â 2Â Â 3
PAR â€“ Edgar Barreto (Oscar Cardozo) 30th minute.
USA â€“ Ricardo Clark (Taylor Twellman) 40.
PAR â€“ Oscar Cardozo (unassisted) 56.
PAR â€“ Salvador Cabanas (unassisted) 92+.
USA: 18-Kasey Keller (capt.); 15-Drew Moor, 3-Jay DeMerit (7-Dan Califf, 65), 12-Jimmy Conrad, 13-Jonathan Bornstein; 5-Benny Feilhaber, 19-Ricardo Clark, 14-Ben Olsen (21-Justin Mapp, 71), 16-Sacha Kljestan (25-Lee Nguyen, 80); 20-Taylor Twellman, 9-Eddie Johnson
Subs not used: 2-Marvell Wynne, 4-Bobby Boswell, 6-Heath Pearce, 8-Herculez Gomez, 10-Charlie Davies, 11-Eddie Gaven, 17-Kyle Beckerman, 23-Brad Guzan
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
PAR: 1-Justo Villar (capt.) (22-Aldo Bobadilla-56); 2-DarÃo Veron, 5-Julio CÃ©sar Caceres, 14-Paulo da Silva, 3-Claudio Morel Rodriguez; 6-Carlos Bonet, 8-Edgar Barreto, 16-Cristian Riveros, 19-Jonathan Santana (20-Enrique Vera, 77); 18-Oscar Cardozo (7-Salvador Cabanas, 73), 9-Roque Santa Cruz
Subs not used: 4-Julio Manzur, 10-Julio dos Santos, 11-Aureliano Torres, 12-Joel Zayas, 13-Jose Salcedo, 15-Edgar Gonzalez, 17-Dante Lopez, 21-Nelson Cuevas
Head Coach: Gerardo Martino
Stats Summary: USA/PAR
Corner Kicks 5/3
USA â€“ Benny Feilhaber (caution) 62nd minute.
PAR â€“ Cristian Riveros (caution) 77.
Referee: Victor Rivera (PER)
1st Asst.: Luis Avila (PER)
2nd Asst.: Placido Chuello (VEN)
Fourth Official: Carlos Chandia (CHI)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Ricardo Clark