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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

November 17, 2010
SPECIAL JUAN
Teenager Agudelo lifts U.S. over South Africa


17-year-old New York Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo made his National Team debut in the 60th minute of Wednesday’s match against South Africa, and scored the game-winning goal 25 minutes later.
17-year-old New York Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo made his National Team debut in the 60th minute of Wednesday’s match against South Africa, and scored the game-winning goal 25 minutes later.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Juan Agudelo has come a very long way in a very short time. Last spring, the New York Red Bulls signed the 17-year-old out of their Youth Academy. Last month, he replaced injured superstar Thierry Henry in the Red Bulls’ starting lineup in the MLS Cup playoffs. And on Wednesday, he made his U.S. National Team debut and scored his first international goal, sealing a 1-0 win over South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Challenge at sold-out Green Point Stadium.

Agudelo entered Wednesday’s match in the 60th minute, replacing starter Robbie Rogers, and delivered the U.S. victory 25 minutes later. Fellow MNT newcomer Mikkel Diskerud set the stage, bringing the ball into the penalty area and fending off a defender while Agudelo darted between two more South African backliners to just outside the six-yard box. Agudelo chested Diskerud’s pass to the ground and shipped the shot up with the outside of his left foot. The ball grazed the underside of the crossbar and continued into the roof of the net, just over the goal line.

Coach Bob Bradley’s makeshift lineup, which included only five players from the 2010 World Cup roster and saw five players make their National Team debuts, held their own against a South African side that was unbeaten in six games since the World Cup. Neither team created much in the way of offensive fireworks, combining for only 12 shots. The U.S. put four of their five attempts on goal. USA ‘keeper Brad Guzan made two saves, including a point-blank stop on Bernard Parker off the right post in the 20th minute, and helped keep his inexperienced backline out of trouble with assertive punches and catches in the penalty area before South African threats could develop.

Although Robbie Rogers challenged South African netminder Itumeleng Khuna with an open shot from the top of the box in the 22nd minute, and Robbie Findley’s dangerous cross was headed out for a corner kick seconds later, the hosts controlled much of the momentum in the scoreless first half.

Bradley’s first substitution, inserting Kansas City Wizards forward Team Bunbury for Findley after the intermission, almost paid a quick dividend. In the 54th minute, Bunbury spun past defender Morgan Gould and got off a 17-yard left-footer that was saved by Khuna.

Agudelo’s first look at goal came just two minutes after he entered the match, on a breakaway run with Eddie Gaven, whose cross from the left side into the six-yard box was just out of the teenager’s reach.

In the wake of Agudelo’s goal, Bafana Bafana tried furiously to equalize, starting seconds after the restart, when Siphiwe Tshabalala got in close to the U.S. goal, but the ball was cleared out for a corner kick. The corner in turn was cleared upfield, and Guzan easily picked off a long follow-up attempt. South Africa continued to threaten through four minutes of stoppage time, but was not able to get off a shot. Eric Lichaj headed away Tshabalala’s corner kick just before the final whistle to protect the U.S. win.

   
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