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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

March 26, 2011
THE EQUALIZER
Agudelo helps U.S. tie Argentina, 1-1

By Michael Lewis
BigAppleSoccer.com Editor

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In his three short appearances for the U.S. National Team, Juan Agudelo has scored two goals and set up a penalty kick.

Not too shabby for an 18-year-old striker who is still getting his feet wet on the international stage.

On a Saturday night when Lionel Messi and his Argentine teammates wowed and entertained the fans at New Meadowlands Stadium, the New York Red Bulls forward struck for his second goal to help the Americans salvage a 1-1 draw in the international friendly before a crowd of 78,936.

The crowd was the largest for a soccer game at the new stadium.

After Argentina grabbed a 1-0 halftime lead, the Americans equalized in the 59th minute as Agudelo scored his second international goal only 14 minutes after entering the match for Jermaine Jones at halftime.

Landon Donovan launched a 40-yard free kick into the penalty area that Carlos Bocanegra headed on goal. Goalkeeper Mariano Andujar saved the defender's shot at the left far post, but Agudelo was in the right place at the right time and put home the rebound from about a yard out.

Agudelo has scored more internationals goals (two) than professionally (one), but then again he has played more games for the U.S. National Team (three) than for the Red Bulls (one). Before he returns to MLS, Agudelo will fly down to Nashville, Tenn. with the U.S. team for Tuesday night's international friendly.

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard was good on Saturday night, but not good enough to stop the magic of Messi and his teammates for a second consecutive match. Howard backstopped the U.S.'s scoreless draw with the South Americans at Giants Stadium in June 2008 with several spectacular saves.

The Argentines finally solved Howard in the 42nd minute Saturday night, with Messi as playmaker. He beat Jay De Merit on the left side, dribbled to the end line and nutmegged Bocanegra to find Angel di Maria alone in front. Howard, however, managed a kick save to deny the forward. The rebound came right to midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, who slotted home a left-footed shot from six yards for a 1-0 advantage.

Until then, it seemed Howard was in the middle of a shooting gallery as Argentina dominated the opening half.

Howard picked up where he left off from three years ago in the opening half as Messi, playing the maestro, masterminded the Argentina as he tried to set up teammates rather than score. Di Maria took advantage of Messi's passing, but could not solve the U.S. keeper.

Howard stopped di Maria from 15 yards in the eighth minute and denied the forward on a point-blank attempt from 10 yards in the 34th minute.

Messi tried to get into the act in the 28th minute, but his seven-yard shot from the left side just missed the far post. Messi gave his supporters and Argentine faithful some tense moments when he went down after colliding with U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu. He left the field, but returned to action.

Clint Dempsey had the Americans' best scoring opportunities. After stripping the ball from an Argentine player in the fourth minute, he sent a shot that goalkeeper Maiano Andujar easily saved. He had another attempt in the 37th minute that was handily saved by Andujar after a defender blocked his shot from the right side of the penalty area.

Only four minutes after entering his first international match, defender Timmy Chandler received his first international yellow card from referee Roberto Garcia (Mexico).

   
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