Three quick thoughts: U.S.-Chile
Three thoughts after the U.S.'s 1-1 tie against Chile in a matchup of two B-squads in Carson, Calif., on Saturday night:
1. Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury continue to impress up top. Neither the 18-year-old Agudelo nor the 20-year-old Bunbury started this game, but they brought an instant injection of speed and quality upon entering the game midway through the second half. Building on their debuts in November's victory against South Africa, in which Agudelo scored the game-winner, Bunbury scored the penalty-kick equalizer against Chile after Agudelo had earned the call with a confident move in the box. You can understand why coach Bob Bradley is taking things slowly with these youngsters -- the U.S. has a history of hyping soccer players before they've earned it -- but this duo is indeed off to a promising start. They'll be fun to watch in MLS this season with New York (Agudelo) and Kansas City (Bunbury).
2. Some players took advantage of their opportunities, some didn't. It's only one game, a January friendly that few people will really remember. But a few U.S. players helped their causes. Midfielder Dax McCarty covered a lot of ground, passed and defended well and even got off a dangerous shot from distance. Centerback Tim Ream continued to show he has a bright future and can start the attack from the back line. Nick Rimando was solid in goal, and Zach Loyd showed he deserves some more looks at the thin left-back position. Other players will want to forget this game. Central defender Marvell Wynne was at sea on Chile's goal, failing to mark his man. Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz showed he might not have the speed (of feet and thought) needed for this level. Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya had little influence, and midfielder Mixx Diskerud missed a chance to impress as an attacking central mid, sometimes trying to do too much.
The A-Team will be back on Feb. 9 against Egypt. Only two weeks remain before the U.S. travels to Cairo to play African champion Egypt. Both teams should be near full-strength (it's a FIFA international date), and while they won't have much time to train together, it will be good to see the first-teamers together again. The game will continue a stretch of tough challenges against quality opponents, one that resumes in late March with home friendlies against Argentina and Paraguay as the U.S. prepares for this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup.