On Tuesday night from LP Field the US Menâ€™s National Team had their chances. The back three for Paraguayâ€™s defense were just too strong for the US to get by.
In front of 29,059 fans, a record in the state of Tennessee, the US seemed to dominate the action on the field, only to concede an early goal and play from behind the rest of the match.
â€œOverall I think the team has some good periods, in terms of moving the ball and having ideas,â€ US coach Bob Bradley said.
â€œWhen we got into good positions, whether those were on the flanks; are ability to play a good ball in early, the kind that give opportunities in the front. The timing of plays or the slipping of a final pass or just ability of player under tough pressure to make a play in that part of the field, either to get a foul or get himself a chance.â€
The first 15 minutes saw the US keep good control of the ball and put pressure on the back line of Paraguay. But even with the bulk of possession, the US found themselves down in the 18th minute.
â€œThe ball just kind of went through and hit off my leg, and Jay [DeMerit] ran into me at the same time, and it just happen to fall perfectly to the guy that got the shot off,â€ Clint Dempsey said of the goal Paraguayâ€™s Oscar Cardozo scored.
After Paraguay took the lead, the defense seemed to pack it in even more in the back.
â€œTheyâ€™re a good team. Theyâ€™re a team that in the World Cup in five game only conceded two goals,â€ Dempsey said. â€œThen we knew it was going to be a tough game because they were going to be motivated and they also made a lot of changes to their starting lineup.â€
Normally a very solid team defensively, Paraguay allowed three goals to the Mexican National team just three days earlier.
Theyâ€™re a very good team defensively. Their objective was pretty clear to come in here, to defend well and try to counter,â€ Landon Donovan said.
As good as the defense was for Paraguay, the US team was not without chances. Dempsey just missed the net on a header in the 21st minute and had a shot on goal saved by goalkeeper Justo Vilar in the 26th minute.
Out shooting the Paraguayans 13-5 on the match, the US had a couple of really nice chances near the end of the game.
In the 86th minute, Michael Bradley had a strike from 25 yards out that forced Vilar to make an exceptional diving save, fisting the ball over top the crossbar. Jermaine Jones had the games final attempt with a blast that again forced Vilar to make a nice save just as time expired.
â€œGive their goalie credit, he made a couple of really good saves,â€ Donovan said. â€œWe all had a few chances, on another day those go in; its unfortunate, but sometimes that is the way soccer is.â€
A game that is set up to give the US some preparation for the Gold Cup, Bob Bradley played around with the lineup and gave a couple of young guys their first start.
Juan Agudelo was rewarded with his first start for the national team after scoring in two of his first three caps.
â€œThis is a hard game for a forward,” Bradley said of Agudelo’s start. “This is where experience counts, and this is where you show what you’re all about and so we’ll talk to him because this is where good forwards earn their money.
Timmy Chandler was also granted his first start for the national team on his 21st birthday. In only his second game for the US, Chandler showed a lot of promise to his teammates.
â€œI think heâ€™s done very well. Itâ€™s still going to take him a little time to adapt to the way we play,â€ Donovan said. â€œThere are certain times where we want him to something and heâ€™s not quite there yet but his pure willingness to attack is good. Defensively, heâ€™s been pretty good. I think with more time and more games, heâ€™s going to progress really well.â€
The incorporation of youth and experience on this US team will be shown again late May when the team faces Spain in a final friendly tune up before the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June.