EAST RUTHERFORD - American
teenager Juan Agudelo pounced on a rare defensive mistake from
Argentina to earn the United States a 1-1 draw in a friendly
international at the new Meadowlands Stadium on Saturday.
Argentina dominated the match from start to finish, with
Lionel Messi teasing and tormenting the Americans with his full
bag of tricks, but they only converted one of their numerous
That came late in the first half when Messi threaded the
ball between the legs of the U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra and
Esteban Cambiasso blasted home a rebound from the edge of the
Despite being heavily marked, Messi threatened to extend his
team's lead on several occasions, but the Americans scrambled
well in defense and then snatched an equalizer in the 59th
minute against the run of play.
"I think we had a great first half. At times, we were
brilliant," Argentina coach Sergio Batista, speaking through a
translator, told a news conference.
"I think the football we want to see was there, but we
didn't finish that well."
A lapse in concentration was all it took for the Americans
to square the ledger in front of an enthusiastic crowd of
79,000, which had been bolstered by the appearance of Messi.
Carlos Bocanegra headed a free-kick from Landon Donovan
straight at the Argentine goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, who
fumbled the ball at the feet of Agudelo.
The 18-year-old, who came on as a second half replacement,
reacted first, slamming the ball into the net to register his
second goal in just three international appearances.
"He's had a knack now for turning up in some good spots to
score goals," American head coach Bob Bradley said.
Bradley admitted his team had been mostly outplayed by an
Argentina side that controlled the ball for long periods,
leaving the home side to survive off scraps off possession.
Messi had provided Bradley and his tacticians with headaches
in defense but the coach said he was impressed with the way his
players coped while under constant pressure.
"We came away with a good result against a very good team,"
"We understood that the first half didn't go the way we
wanted, but I was pleased with the way we responded."
For both teams, the match was the first of two games they
are playing in three days to help prepare themselves for their
respective continental championships they are hosting later this
The U.S. - hosts of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June - face
Paraguay in Nashville on Tuesday while the Argentineans will
travel to Costa Rica as part of their build-up to the Copa
America in July.
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