BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Despite controlling play and having the most opportunities in the match, United States national team fell to Paraguay on Tuesday night in a friendly at Nashville LP Field.
The US entered the game on the heels of a 1-1 draw against world power Argentina. In that game, youngsters Timmy Chandler and Juan Agudelo entered the game at the start of the second half and sparked a comeback in the last 45 minutes.
On Tuesday night both Agudelo and Chandler earned their first ever national team starts and continued their impressive play.
Despite owning most of the possession early, it was Paraguay who scored first when Hernan Perez sent a corner kick into the box that Jay Demerit was unable to clear. The loose ball fell right to Oscar Cardozo who hammered it home from close range.
Later in the first half, the US was forced to make a substitute when DeMerit came off the field with a limp following a defensive clearance in the 42nd minute.
In the second half, the US opened with a very good chance when it appeared that Agudelo was brought down in the box but Honduran referee Jose Benigo waved on for play to continue.
In the 67th minute, Clint Dempsey had a shot from close range when he received a low cross from second half substitute Eric Lichaj. Dempsey was off balance and instead sent the shot over the bar.
The US thought they had the equalizer in the 75th minute when a Lichaj throw-in found its way all the way to the far post but Landon Donvan's close range shot hit the outside of the net.
Paraguay's only decent chance of the second half came in the 78th minute when Marcelo Estigarribia hit a long shot from 25 yards that rattled the far post.
In the 86th minute, Michael Bradley came close when he hit a shot from 25 yards but Paraguayan keeper Justo Vilar got a hand on the shot while in full extension.
The final chance for the US came on one of the last kicks of the game when Jermaine Jones hit a great low driving shot from the edge of the 18 but Vilar was once again there to deflect the shot away.
In addition to Chandler and Agudelo, the US saw strong play from young central defender Tim Ream, Jermaine Jones, and Michael Bradley.
On the other hand, Donovan appeared to still be getting his legs back following the MLS offseason and was not as sharp as he usually is. Dempsey tried to make plays happen but often appeared to try to do too much. Maurice Edu also failed to impress in central midfield and turned the ball over more than expected.
The most disappointing effort of the day for the US was by forward Jozy Altidore who continued to struggle to contribute to the offense and does not look like the dominate force he was prior to last summer's World Cup.
The US will now be off for the remainder of the European season and will return to action on June 4th when they host Spain in Foxboro, Massachusetts in their final game before this summer's 2011 Gold Cup.