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Newcomers ready to make an impact as USA faces Chile

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It's the first match of the year for the United States national team and for many of the players on the field, it will be their first chance to state their case for a future with the team.

Saturday's match against Chile (10:30, Telefutura/ESPN3) is the culmination of a week long process for the 18 players that make the final squad. Derided by some, the match will provide the players the chance to state their case to Bob Bradley and the rest of coaching staff. With the Gold Cup, World Cup qualifying and several friendlies on the horizon, each player on the squad is playing for their own future with the national team.

At the end of the grueling process of a three week long, 18 day camp, there has been much that has been learned with a date with Chile on the horizon.

"It was a getting used to tactics and players that we may not be familiar with," said forward Teal Bunbury. "We've been getting used to those little things that coach Bob Bradley has instilled and it's been going well."

The January match has been vital in integrating new talent to the U.S. with 10 players on the South Africa World Cup roster having made appearances at the annual match during the last World Cup cycle. From Jonathan Bornstein scoring in is national team debut in 2008 to Sacha Kljestan's hat-trick in 2009, players have used the camp and subsequent match as their launching point to a future with the U.S. 

One player that made a serious impact last year was Alejandro Bedoya. The 23-year-old made an impression last January that started a whirlwind 2010 for the winger, who went from January camp standout to nearly making the World Cup squad. Bedoya is the most experienced player on the roster and has been willing to provide advice for the youngsters, who are looking to make their mark with the national team. 

"It's humbling to be here and try to give back and give some of my knowledge that I gained during my time with the national team," said Bedoya. "When we're playing on the field or at the hotel, I tell them not to be nervous and stress that you're here for a reason so play with the same style that got you here."

Their opponents, Chile is composed of a squad also looking to catch the eye of their head coach in a vital year for the South Americans with the Copa America taking place in July. 15 of the players on Bielsa's roster are exclusively from five of Chile's top clubs with only five players over the age of 25.

The veteran on the roster is Esteban Paredes, who appeared in a pair of matches during the 2010 World Cup. Paredes is considered by many to be the Bielsa's replacement for Humberto Suazo and has made 19 appearances for La Roja. With so many new faces on Bielsa's squad, it's expected that the new members of La Roja will come to the Home Depot Center eager to impress.

"This isn't their A-team, but they're young guys just like we are and they're eager to have a good showing," said Bedoya. "They're going to want to prove their worth on the team and they have a great style of play."

The focus for the U.S is similar to that of Chile as those that impress will have a great of chance of appearing at future matches for the U.S. this year and quite possibly the Gold Cup. One group that looks likely to appear for Bob Bradley's squad in the future is his defensive corps. Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream impressed in their national team debuts in 2010 and will have a greater chance to join the full squad.

Those in need of a big showing lie at forward with youngsters Teal Bunbury, Juan Agudelo and debutants Chris Wondolowski and Eugene Starikov making up Bradley's options. With the full national team forward corps thin, an successful appearance against the Chileans could lead to future caps alongside United States first option Jozy Altidore. With so many players looking to make an impact, Bedoya, now the veteran on the squad is eager to prevent that pressure from getting to his teammates. 

"Obviously we've got guys with a lot of upside, but we've just had to stay humble," said Bedoya. "I've been stressing to them that they need to be humble and just continue to focus on their own work on the field, but we've got a lot of talent on the field for the match." 


  1. Hope that these guys do well. They must be feeling a lot of pressure to prove themselves, knowing from the careers of people like Bornstein that performing well here could eventually lead to something big. I certainly don’t envy Agudelo right now.

    Also, yeah Buddle!

  2. I know that was tounge in cheek, but I just checked out the FC Ingolstadt website and through the translate key I found that either Buddle scored, or else he ordered a bucket of extra crispy Nachos Bell Grande.

  3. If MSV Duisburg are promoted, should David Yeldell be in consideration for the #3 keeper spot? He will be playing in a top European league. Few other Americans can say that.

  4. I like Bedoya’s attitude:

    We have got a lot of talent.

    With a lot of upside if we work hard and stay humble.

    A lot better than the please give the US respect.


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