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USA vs. South Africa game diary and player ratings

By Jeff Maurer

Another friendly, another chance to get a look at some of the up-and-comers in the U.S. national team pool. And Robbie Findley. I've heard a few people say that the U.S. should field the strongest possible lineup because this is the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup. I don't quite follow that logic. I can't imagine someone saying: "They gave Tim Ream his first cap instead of starting Clarence Goodson...just where does the US stand on apartheid?" We should start whatever lineup is best for our program going forward.
Starting lineup for the US: Guzan | Bornstein, Ream, Goodson, Lichaj | Rogers, Carroll, Pause, Bedoya | Gaven, Findley
Bob Bradley's obsession with Robbie Findley reminds me of the movie Vertigo. Remember when, after Jimmy Stewart thinks Kim Novak has died, he meets a woman who looks like Kim Novak (because it is Kim Novak) and dresses her up like the woman he thought had died? Memo to Bob Bradley: Robbie Findley is not Charlie Davies. Stop trying to recreate what you had.

1' - Very excited to see the likes of Lichaj, Ream, and Bedoya. Less so with the likes of Carroll and Pause; they're good players, but I think we know what they have to offer and I doubt they'll be a major part of the national team setup in the future.

5' - I have Stockholm syndrome with the vuvuzelas; now, they just sound the like the World Cup to me.

6' - I haven't seen a lot of Crew games this year - when did Eddie Gaven become the sixth member of Fleet Foxes? He's got long hair and a beard. It actually kind of works for him, but that's not going to keep me from making fun of him throughout this post.

9' - South Africa appeal for a penalty after a clear dive. I think the ref should have given it; one of the main things our young players need to learn is how to deal with ridiculously bad calls at the international level.

13' - Guzan makes a nice save after a South African player is sent through (wasn't he offside?). It was obvious that Guzan was in line to become the next U.S. 'keeper when the Soccer Gods started taking his hair. Somewhere it is written that all US 'keepers must be bald.

16' - Eddie Gaven will be starring in Homeless Dad, coming this winter.

19' - To be frank, South Africa do not look that good. They're giving the ball away in bad spots.

21' - It's probably good that Bedoya doesn't play for DC United: from a distance, he looks a lot like Santino Quaranta and Chris Pontius, who already look a lot like each other to begin with.

22' - Nice take from Rogers, but unfortunately right at the 'keeper. Rogers is one of the only genuine two-footed players I can think of; he seems equally comfortable with his right and his left.

30' - Lichaj usually plays left back for Villa, but he's playing right back tonight and is clearly right-footed. Not that it matters much: we have issues at both fullback spots, so he could potentially be the solution at either.

37' - Strange: the only guy in the U.S. back line consistently getting burnt is Bornstein, the one with all the caps.

38' - A lot of us are wondering who's going to step up and man the U.S. back line in 2014...are we overlooking Clarence Goodson? If you think about it, he's shown well just about every time he's put on the jersey. A lot of people - myself included - weren't overly impressed with him when he was with Dallas, but his game has obviously developed and maybe he's the answer.

41' - Four minutes until the latest chapter in the Robbie Findley Tragedy is over and we get a look at Agudelo or Bunbury.

44' - Eddie Gaven would like to know if you can spare a minute for the Earth.

HALFTIME - Pretty even match so far. South Africa's had more of the ball, but the chances have been pretty even. U.S. is playing the way you would expect a team with a Carroll/Pause midfield to play: solid, well-organized, unspectacular.

46' - Jonathan Spector's Mullet in for Bornstein, Teal Bunbury in for Findley. Findley continues his remarkable record of being subbed off a half time; he is the Joe Dimaggio of being subbed off at half time.

47' - Ian Darke: "Findley was a little disappointing tonight." Not really - he played exactly how I expected him to play: badly. No disappointment at all.

48' - Bedoya's taken a knock to the face, though the cameras didn't catch what happened. Maybe he'll look a little less like Tino and Pontius now.

49' - Lichaj has been good: good energy, good passing. Come to think of it, Lichaj has a touch of the Bedoya/Tino/Pontius aesthetic going (medium build, dark, gelled hair). Maybe I should put together an all-light-skinned-medium-build-dark-gelled-hair team.

59' - I like what I've seen from Bunbury: he seems to know how to use his size. Now Agudelo is coming on for Rogers. Is the fact that our front line is a 20-year-old and a 17-year-old a reason for hope or a sign of desperation?

60' - Come to think of it, how is it possible that the U.S. has produced zero quality international strikers between Brian McBride and Jozy Altidore? What happened to that generation? Was there a Spanish flu epidemic? A nation-wide radon leak?

62' - Eddie Gaven would like you to know that he'll be playing some acoustic stuff at Busboys and Poets tonight, and it'll be really cool and laid back, so if you'd like to come by that'd be cool, or whatever.

63' - Here it is: your all-medium-build-dark-gelled-hair team. It would be impossible to differentiate any one player on this team from any other from a distance. This is doubly true if you're watching on Fox Soccer Channel's patented Blotchy-o-Vision.

---------------------------David Villa--------------------Chris Pontius-------------
Santino Quaranta-----Mikel Arteta-----Frank Lampard-----Alejandro Bedoya
The Situation--------------Lucio------------Omar Gonzales------------Eric Lichaj
---------------------------------------Gigi Buffon-------------------------------------

66' - I like what I've seen from Tim Ream, but I'm not actually sure that this is much of a challenge for him: South Africa tonight are playing at about MLS-level. And just as I say that, Ream's night is over: Borchers in for Ream.

70' - Giveaway from Spector leads to a chance for Piennar. We shouldn't expect much from Spector tonight; he hasn't played in a long time.

74' - Why do South Africa insist on trying to play the ball out of the back? It's caused them nothing but trouble all night.

77' - Diskerud in for Bedoya. Decent game for Bedoya, but I'm not completely sold on him yet. Eager to see Diskerud; I liked what I saw from him at the U-20 World Cup.

80' - Eddie Gaven is always asleep on your friend Brian's couch, but you don't think he lives there. When awake, he is unbeatable at Halo.

84' - GOAL USA!!! Nice exchange between Agudelo and Diskerud puts Agudelo in, and the 17-year-old knocks it home! 1-0 USA! 

85' - That makes one goal for Juan Agudelo in one cap, zero goals for Robbie Findley in 11 caps. Just sayin'.

85' - Agbossoumonde in for Goodson. I'd like to extend Boss an invitation to play for my rec team. We can't pay you anything, but if you're coming from NOVA I can drive you to games, and the sad fact is that you need playing time any way you can get it.

FULL TIME. Good game for the USA - they got a look at some young guys, and they even got the win. South Africa looks to be reverting to pre-World Cup form.

Player ratings:

Guzan: 7. Needed to make a few saves, and made them all. Kind of a shame he's stuck behind the Cal Ripken of the Premiership.

Bornstein: 3.5. Not the best night for Johnny B. His form has been dipping a bit lately; I hope he lands on his feet when he gets to Mexico.

Ream: 6. Good first game, but I still don't think we know how he'll fare against a top-flight team. He's a great passer; I love center backs who can pass.

Goodson: 6.5. Quality game; he took charge several times when it was needed.

Lichaj: 7. Was a real bright spot - defended well, passed well, covered a lot of ground. More please. 

Rogers: 5. Crew fans say he had a real down year; I thought he looked okay tonight.

Carroll: 4.5. Solid, good. Why did United get rid of him again?

Pause: 4.5. Like Carroll: solid, steady. I'm giving Bob Bradley a pass on these choices because his options were so constricted.

Bedoya: 4.5. Had a few good moments, but didn't get involved enough. Pause and Carroll aren't going to spark the attack - that needs to be you.

Gaven: 5. I like him as a player, but I question whether he has the physical tools to excel at the international level.

Findley: 2.5. I'm going to try to stop piling on this guy - my opinions of him are well known.

Bunbury: 5.5. I don't usually watch the Kansas City Wizards - or Sporting Kansas City, as they're now called - but Bunbury might have given me a reason to start.

Spector: 4. Let me say it one more time: I don't think he's a fullback at the international level. Maybe a center back.

Agudelo: 6. Nice finish...let the overreaction begin.

Borchers: 5.5. Borchers has been solid for a long time, and he's in very good form right now. I could see him playing a role in the national team in this coming cycle.

Diskerud: 6. His creativity was much needed, and he did well on the goal. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.

By Jeff Maurer  | November 18, 2010; 12:37 PM ET
Categories:  Jeff Maurer, United  | Tags:  U.S.-South Africa friendly  
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Thanks for giving somebody a score lower than 5. I hate seeing these guys have awful showings and then get 5s. Like sports writers are afraid to give a guy a 3 because he won't give you an interview next week. lame.

Posted by: Matte | November 18, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious post Jeff. Thanks for the laughs.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 18, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Jeff, I don't know who you are, but your Eddie Gaven stuff was brilliant. Hysterical.

Posted by: Khar77 | November 18, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Matte: that's an advantage of being a blogger - I never do interviews, so I have no bridges to burn!

Khar77: this is me:
Glad you thought it was funny.

Posted by: JeffMaurer | November 18, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

"The Situation." Excellent. I'm glad there's another person who can't tell players apart. I fell so inferior when some Soccer Insider loyalists seem to know exactly who is on the ball at any given time for the U-17s.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 19, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

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