The United States lost 1-0 to Paraguay in Nashville in a friendly. Fox Soccer’s JP Dellacamera and Kyle Martino were on hand to assess just what this match meant and how the young Americans who took the field looked.
Q. Obviously, a hard loss for the Americans tonight: general thoughts on the match?
JP: I think if you were rooting for the USA to win, you came away disappointed, but there were clearly some players who looked very good. I think you saw some men, over these two matches, that will be called in for the game against Spain and for the Gold Cup. It could have been tied tonight: Jermaine Jones had a big shot saved late and so did Michael Bradley. At the end, Paraguay were a bit on their heels.
KYLE: Yeah, it was a disappointing result, but there were a lot of positives. The USA were playing a South American team ranked 24th in the world that was coming off a good World Cup. The USA had the majority of possession and chances and were playing a lot of new, young players. If I’m Bob Bradley, I’m happy with the way they played. Yes, the final pass was lacking but a lot of credit also has to go to Paraguay with how tough they were in midfield and defense.
Q. Talk a little bit about the changes Bradley made; we saw a 4-4-2 formation tonight after a 4-5-1 against Argentina Saturday.
JP: I think that you saw that Bob Bradley has a good nucleus that looked better in a 4-4-2 formation; this obviously was an offensive lineup with Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Juan Agudelo and Jozy Altidore up top. It’s refreshing and I hope this continues.
KYLE: Absolutely, the 4-5-1 we showed against Argentina forces us into a shell too early, and more important, it handcuffs us and doesn’t allow the midfielders to shine. We’re better when we have our guys – Edu, Jones, Holden, Bradley, whomever is healthy – allowing Landon Donovan to tuck in, then get wide and show the kind of intelligence he has. It allows us to have Clint Dempsey go out there for a half in midfield, then make the adjustment and move up top, and overall that form is better for the parts we have.
Q. Who stood out for you guys tonight?
JP: I think Tim Ream showed a lot of poise. He made several good passes, and didn’t panic or let it get to him when the goal was scored. Replays seemed to show he was pulled down, he didn’t get frustrated and foul or make bigger mistakes – these are all plusses for him and the USA going forward.
KYLE: Yeah, there were a couple times when he gave away the ball cheaply, but his comfort will only improve, and his ability to play the ball into midfield – and to bypass it as you saw – is going to be an asset going forward.
JP: I think Agudelo showed a lot tonight in the sense that he was played very physically by Paraguay. Every time he took a hit, he bounced right up and there was no trash talking or jawing at the ref; that showed me a lot about his demeanor. He went into high traffic areas and was willing to take a hit. He got several good touches on the ball, and for an 18-year-old, he showed a great sense of when to take players on, when to release the ball and he always kept his head up.
KYLE: I think we were all concerned about him getting too much hype, but he was clean on the ball and consistently provided an outlet. He didn’t get a lot of looks, but he showed some flair and for his experience level and age, he was very impressive.
JP: Tim Chandler looked good as well: we saw him play a very good second half against Argentina and tonight he played in two different positions and showed he can have an impact. He seemed to be really in sync with the rest of the team, didn’t get caught out, and his speed on the flank really opened things up for the USA.
KYLE: I’m very impressed with his strength and pace going forward. I also have to say that Michael Bradley looked very calm – I think he had by far the most touches, spraying the ball left to right, and broke up a lot of stuff. He had a great night.