U.S. Men's National Team

Agudelo continues run of form with performance against Argentina

Juan Agudelo 1 (Getty Images)



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Ever since Charlie Davies was involved in the notorious car accident that severely injured him, U.S. men's national team head coach Bob Bradley has been in search of a second forward to pair with Jozy Altidore.

Bradley may have found that forward in 18-year-old Juan Agudelo.

For the third time in three games with the United States, Agudelo came off the bench and made an impact, scoring the equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Argentina at New Meadowlands Stadium on Saturday night.

The goal happened just 14 minutes after Agudelo entered the match at halftime, which raised the young forward's confidence for the remainder of the game.

"It was amazing because during the game I didn't feel too comfortable," said Agudelo. "The pitch was a little heavy and there was so much pressure (from) Argentina and there was nobody forward because everybody seemed like they were sitting back and defending.

"After the goal I felt a lot smoother on the ball, and it's amazing what a goal can do because it gives you so much more confidence."

Playing in front of friends and family, Agudelo showed a willingess to go at defenders, make runs and didn't seem phased by the stage in which he was playing on. While Agudelo admitted after the match that it was great to play against the likes of Lionel Messi, he showed no signs of nervous on the field, combining well with Altidore in their first 45 minutes of action together.

"For a young player, whenever you put (Agudelo) on the field, you can tell he has confidence," said Bradley. "He puts himself in good positions and when the ball comes, he's strong and he has something where he's looking to try things, things that make sense."

There were moments, however, when Agudelo was a bit overzealous. On one instance, with the Americans fighting to get the ball out of their own half, Agudelo tried to dribble by two defenders on the left flank, only to lose it in the U.S. team's half.

Nothing came of the ensuing Argentine attack, but it was a reminder to Agudelo that he still has much to learn.

"Day in and day out, I try to work hard and I think it's working really good for me because in training I work hard and the players and the coaches recognize that," said Agudelo.

That mentality is what has American fans salivating and U.S. teammates impressed.

"I thought he was good," said Altidore, who after an almost invisible first half as a lone striker came to life with the inclusion of Agudelo in a 4-4-2 alignment. "You see at times that he's still young and getting used to the speed of the game. I think it was a bit fast for him, but he's a confident kid. You see every time he gets the ball, he wants to show himself and I think that's awesome. I think he's improving every day, so he's a very, very talented player.

After the success the U.S. team had with the Agudelo-Altidore pairing, it's possible that Bradley opts to start the tandem in Tuesday's match against Paraguay, which would mark Agudelo's first start for the team.

If Agudelo earns a start from Bradley, the young forward would have more than just another chance to score. He'd also have an opportunity to claim the starting forward spot that Bradley has been looking to fill.

  • Warren

    We weren’t bunkering against brazil either til we had the lead. Then BB did his nonsensical subs thing and played bunkerball til we lost the game.

    We got 2-0 up playing counter-attack, with 2 strikers. Then he brought in his pets Sacha and I forget who else, who gave the game away.


  • Warren

    It was a complete flop other times BB tried it before the Cup too.

    Fans were supportive of giving it a try presuming Holden was in the center to string a few passes together; once Holden went down most folks seemed to fear, correctly, BB would try the 3 d-mid scheme of Edu, jones and Holden which didn;t work the other time he tried it either.

    What a shock, it didn;t work again.


  • td

    “”bunker defense does not work for the US”


    Spain W 2-0
    Brazil L 2-3 (up 2-0 at half)
    Argentina T 1-1

    Do you think these three results go this way without us bunkering?

    Disagree. We were not bunkering against Brazil in the first half. When I watched the Brazil post game feed, the coach was basically saying they were relieved when the USA pulled back to a single forward in the second half because they were having to hold both full backs because the speed of Donovan, Davies and Altidore. Although I think he was talking about Donovan and Davies regarding the speed issue. When the USA went to the single forward Brazil was able to get their outside backs into the attack, which is classic Brazil. If you recall, Dani Alves killed us because he didn’t have to hold any more.

    Same with the Argentina game. When we dropped the bunker ball aka 4-5-1, we suddenly were able to attack Argentina and relieve some pressure. Teams that attack hate to be attacked.

    The Spain game, I can’t remember well enough. I was too giddy that we won to actually recall much other than Jozy’s nice spin move.

    So, back to the thesis: the USA does not consistently get good results sitting back and hoping to withstand an onslaught and then scoring on their one or two cracks at the goal.


  • Ted B

    We have what we have. Ultimately the USMNT is a lot more about finding what players you do have and finding a formation and playing style that works for them in an extremely short period of time than about tactics. With a constantly evolving, shifting roster and very short practice stints as a team, there’s no way to really build a complex system that vastly outperforms the sum of its parts…basically you have to have a solid manager who is willing to try new talent and who can keep everybody’s head glued on straight and for the most part Bob Bradley does that.

    I honestly think this Agudelo/Altidore, 4-4-2 v. 4-5-1 debate is largely academic anyhow. Right now the 4-5-1 makes sense, at least on paper (it certainly looked less good on the field) because America has a shortage of quality strikers but with Charlie Davies recovering and guys like Danny Mwanga and Omar Salgado looking to be available in the future – Salgado, if you haven’t seen him, is an absolute stud – next year at this time I suspect there’s going to be some very good strikers being left OFF the squad.

    We’re comparatively loaded at the midfield…no, we do not have a Frank Lampard or a Xavi but we’ve got about 10 European-league starters, some from upper-echelon teams, and that’s likely to remain the strength of the team through the next cycle.

    Our backline is and will likely remain our biggest issue…which is strange for a team that once boasted defensive players and not much else. Age is an issue and aside from Chandler – who sort of came out of nowhere – I simply don’t see a ton of quality young talent emerging as I do at the striker spot…especially at left back.

    Do we HAVE a left back? Is there ANYBODY out there who might be able to help us?


  • Brent McD

    Don’t understand why this 4-5-1 is considered something new. We’ve been playing two defensive mids, empty bucket formation since Bruce Arena days.


  • BigLustythongGrl

    prediction…Agudelo, who has only played in friendlies for US, will be offered a starting position on the Colombian national team for this upcoming Copa America and he will take it to better his skills.
    It will cause a ruckus, with Agudelo requiring protection as if it had occurred in another country.


  • Erik

    wonder what Charlie Davies thought as he watched the goal and fans/media react to Agudelo? hope he can continue his return to form in MLS and make it back into the Natl team, would be great to have options up top.


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