Bob Bradley injected new blood into the USMNT talent stream in Saturday night's 1-1 draw with Chile, but as seems to be his habit, missed a chance to do more with his opportunity. The first half was mostly bad, while the second picked up and significantly so with the substitutions of Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury.
Dax McCarty played well in the center of the park, displaying a deft first touch and an ability to find teammates consistently. Dax played fast, as the game dictated, and it never seemed too much for him to handle. DC United fans must have spent the night with broad cheese-eating grins slapped across their faces. If it wasn't for the crowded US midfield, Dax would have made a case for first team inclusion.
That wasn't the case for his midfield partner, Jeff Larentowicz, nor his former teammate Brek Shea. Shea in particular frustrated because he started well only to have the night unravel. Poor choices and misplaced passes dominated his night. Larentowicz was a step too slow consistently and never seemed comfortable.
Mikkel Diskerud played well enough for his progression to continue to be marked by an upward curve. Alejandro Bedoya didn't contribute much for long stretches, then had his one chance in on goal blocked by a charging Chilean keeper.
Defensively, everyone that played in the back, save perhaps a Engergizer Bunny-like Zac Loyd, left something to be desired. Marvell Wynne, the defender 98.7% of USMNT fans polled said was the one they'd most like to see dropped, misplayed attackers, found himself caught in no man's land, and was largely responsible for the Chile goal. Tim Ream was mediocre (sad face), Omar Gonzalez was dodgy at best, and Sean Franklin struggled. It was one of those "we were lucky it wasn't 3" kind of nights.
On to the good, which Agudelo and Bunbury certainly were. I'll admit I didn't track Chile's substitutions, so it's possible the two youngsters benefited from running at tired defenders, but both impressed with dynamic play, solid touches, and good decisions. It was Agudelo that earned the penalty (only just) that Bunbury used to draw the game level. Like Diskerud, only much more so, Agudelo and Bunbury get charted upward curves on the night. A few people might even dream that one or both have overtaken Jozy Altidore on Bob Bradley's depth chart.
The game wasn't "meaningless", but the result didn't really matter. Bradley got a look at young players, hopefully realized time needs to be called on one or two older ones, and has a base of information with which to move forward into 2011. Next up is Egypt on February 9th in Cairo. That will tell us much more about where Bradley sees the team and what players are sitting in the catbird seat for first team consideration.
Leaving you with this, the most entertaining moment of the night, the Telefutura call of by Pablo Ramirez of Teal Bunbury's goal.
First, the actual call.
Then, the remixed version, which I threw together last night. Sporting KC took my musical bit and added it to footage of Bunbury's goal from the stands.
And now I must sleep.