New England Soccer Today

Young U.S. side draws with Chile

Los Angeles, CA – The United States Men’s National Team opened 2011 with a 1-1 draw against Chile at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night. Both sides used inexperienced experimental squads, with the U.S. featuring mostly players based in Major League Soccer.

The U.S. fell behind nine minutes into the second half when Chile’s Esteban Paredes scored an impressive goal. Substitute Felipe Seymour made a great run, combining with Fernando Meneses down the right flank, before sending a cross into the box. Paredes, unmarked about 10 yards from goal, took a touch to control the ball and then acrobatically volleyed it past substitute goalkeeper Sean Johnson into the net.

Substitute Teal Bunbury equalized for the U.S. on a penalty kick 21 minutes later, calmly slotting the ball into the lower corner while Chile goalkeeper Paulo Garces dove the wrong way. The U.S. was awarded the penalty when fellow substitute Juan Agudelo was tripped up by a defender while making a run into the box.

The U.S. saw seven players make their debuts. Former New England Revolution midfielder and Brown University product Jeff Larentowicz played the full 90 minutes in his first international appearance, while Chris Wondolowski, Sean Franklin, and Zach Loyd also started in their first cap. Anthony Wallace, Sean Johnson and Eric Alexander made their debuts off the bench.

With Wondolowski often isolated up top as the lone striker, the U.S. struggled to create chances in the opening half. A pair of shots from distance was the only U.S. offense to speak of in the opening period.

Dax McCarty, wearing the captain’s armband, threatened first for the U.S. in the 13th minute. The D.C. United midfielder attempted a powerful shot from about 35 yards that Garces got just enough on to tip over the bar.

Wondolowski had a long range effort of his one a minute later, but his strike along the ground was well gathered by a diving Garces.

Chile had a good opportunity in the 22nd minute when Francisco Silva got the ball in stride while making a run towards the box. Silva got the ball in space and unleashed a low shot that rolled just wide of the far post.

Daud Gazale caused the U.S. defense some problems in the 36th minute, using a few quick cuts to create space outside the box before unleashing a shot that was just high of goalkeeper Nick Rimando and the U.S. net.

Chile then took the lead nine minutes into the second half through Paredes impressive effort.

The U.S. introduced the 20-year-old Bunbury and 18-year-old Agudelo into the match in the 59th minute for Wondolowski and Brek Shea and the pair of strikers immediately sparked the team’s offense to life.

Larentowicz got involved in the 64th minute, getting the ball about 40 yards from goal from Bunbury and springing Alejandro Bedoya behind the defense with a quickly played pass. Unfortunately Bedoya’s first touch was just a bit too far in front of him and Garces managed to get to it just before the former Boston College midfielder. Garces couldn’t hold on, but Bedoya was unable to get to the ball.

A poor give away by McCarty in the 73rd minute gave Chile a chance to double their lead, but Silva’s effort was wide of the net.

Chile would rue that missed opportunity a couple of minutes later when Bunbury equalized for the U.S. on a penalty.

Paredes found the back of the net again in the 80th minute with a powerful header off a chip into the box, but his effort was correctly ruled offside.

Chile’s Sebastian Toro was awarded a yellow card two minutes later for attempting to earn a penalty kick with a blatant dive in the box.

Agudelo and Bunbury continued to inject life into the attack in the 85th minute. Agudelo got on the end of a long ball and headed it back to Bunbury who then sprung Agudelo behind the defense with a lobbed pass. Agudelo took the ball into the box, but his shot under pressure was right at Garces who easily made the save.

The two sides both pressed forward to find a late winner, but neither was able to muster a decent scoring opportunity before time ran out.

The U.S. returns to action on February 9th when they travel to take on African champion Egypt. Both sides should have close to their first choice squads available for the match.

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