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Friendlies

  • March 29, 2011
  • • 8:00 PM
  • • LP Field, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Referee: J. Pineda
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FT
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International Friendly Preview: USA vs Paraguay

International Friendly Preview: USA vs Paraguay

The United States will host Paraguay in an international friendly on Tuesday in Nashville.

LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.
8 p.m. ET
Fox Soccer Channel, Telefutura (Spanish)

The United States will play their penultimate Gold Cup preparation match and will hope to maintain the momentum gained from a 1-1 draw with Argentina on Saturday. Paraguay, meanwhile, are licking their wounds from a 3-1 defeat to Mexico on Saturday as the Albirroja prime for Copa America.

Two Forwards Or One?

The U.S. showed on Saturday, at New Meadowlands Stadium against Argentina, that two forwards worked far better than one. The U.S. had more rhythm, attacked more, scored a goal and overall looked like a solid team, and facing the talent-rich two-time World Cup champions, that seems an accomplishment in and of itself.

So the logical solution would be then to start two forwards against Paraguay. Right? Perhaps, but since this is a friendly and U.S. coach Bob Bradley is still trying to figure out how to deal with a wealth of talent in the midfield, the U.S. could once again start three central midfielders flanked by Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey. This may seem a sort of square-peg, round-hole syndrome but better to realize it doesn't work in friendlies than to realize that it doesn't work during meaningful games.

Right Personnel?

Perhaps Bradley is enamored with the five-man midfield, or at least the idea of it. And maybe had Jonny Evans not ensured that Stuart Holden would be nowhere near the team in late March this would be different. However, Holden is not around and Bradley must deal with what he has. What he doesn't have, though, is enough of the right kinds of players to be able to play a five-man midfield no matter who is there.

If Michael Bradley or Maurice Edu or Jermaine Jones grasp the system, does that then mean that Benny Feilhaber or Sacha Kljestan will as well? What about others such as Mixx Diskerud, or players not on the roster like Dax McCarty? If the first-choice players are struggling to produce on the field in that system, how can the others be expected to pick it up seamlessly? Perhaps this is a matter of experimentation but if the contrast between first- and second-half play is any indication, the experiment should be labeled a failure and abandoned.



Persistent Paraguay

One of the things that helped Paraguay reach the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup was their defense. Paraguay held Italy in the opening match, tying the then-defending champions 1-1, then reeled off three consecutive shutouts, against Slovakia (2-0), New Zealand (0-0) and Japan (0-0). Paraguay held the Japanese to no goals over 120 minutes, then beat them in penalties. Spain knocked Paraguay out of the World Cup in a tight 1-0 contest.

However, none of that airtight defending was apparent on Saturday against Mexico. Paraguay gave up three goals as if they had intended on allowing goals instead of stopping them. Sure, Javier Hernandez accounted for two of them, but the defenders did poorly across the board, not just in how they marked Chicharito.

Paraguay are not a favorite to win Copa America - that honor falls on Argentina and Brazil - but Paraguay are expected to contend. With this kind of poor marking, Paraguay won't get out of the first round. Thus, the concern on defending is important, and space for the Americans might be tough to come by.

USA probable line-up:
Howard; Bornstein, Ream, Onyewu, Chandler; Donovan, Bradley, Jones, Edu, Dempsey; Altidore.

Paraguay probable line-up:
Villar; Veron, Da Silva, Alcaraz, Torres; Barreto, Ortigoza, Riveros, Benitez, Barrios.

Visit the U.S. national team page on Goal.com for more and join Goal.com USA's Facebook fan page!

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

United States

Paraguay

Wins
2
0
2
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

United States USA
United States United States
Draw
Paraguay PRY
Paraguay Paraguay
65%
16%
19%

Top 3 Predictions

United States USA
2 - 1
Paraguay PRY
United States USA
2 - 0
Paraguay PRY
United States USA
1 - 2
Paraguay PRY

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