USA 1-1 Chile: USA Defensive Analysis

CARSON, Calif. - Five minutes into the match, Sean Franklin nearly gave up a penalty to Chile, clattering into the back of Edson Puch, but the referee, Francisco Chacon Guitierrez, chose to mark it outside the penalty box.

For much of the first half, Franklin continued to give up fouls, though never again in as dangerous an area. And though he was able to chase down attacks, his distribution was substandard, and he closed his activity in the opening period with a wayward cross that Chile goalkeeper Paulo Garces had little trouble collecting.

Yet the only yellow given to a USA player in the half went to the other fullback, Zach Loyd, who otherwise contributed little. His foul was something of a purposeful move, since Chile had previously knocked about midfielder Mixx Diskerud.

The backline pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream was relatively solid in the first half, though not spectacular. Neither seemed really comfortable in the leadership role of the position, and often had to be organized by the USA goalkeeper.

Given the starting nod for his experience, Nick Rimando made the one save he had to in the first half, even though he bobbled it slightly. He organized the young backline efficiently, keeping his commands simple and understandable.

As a defensive midfielder, Jeff Larentowicz was supremely cautious in the first half, always making the safe pass - sometimes to the point of killing his own team's attack.

Though the ball stayed in the American side for much of the first half - the defense did its job, keeping the ball out of the goal.

The second half was another story, though.

Marvell Wynne was brought in for Gonzalez, and Sean Johnson set up in goal in place of Rimando. The players were still adjusting to duties when Chile scored in the 54th.

The first player at fault on the goal was Loyd, who was deceived by a clever backheel by captain Fernando Meneses. Loyd then flung himself helplessly at the cross sent in by Nicolas Mancilla, but it sailed past him.

Ream was marking another player, leaving Wynne out of position on the covering assignment. He then flailed uselessly at the ball, which found Esteban Paredes.

Johnson was also to blame, as the young goalkeeper hesitated in coming out for the cross, then was left to react too late to the incoming shot.

As the USA pressed forward in search of the equalizer, the defense pitched in when Ream sent a tidy pass to start the play that lead to Juan Agudelo earning a penalty for Teal Bunbury to bury.

With the game much more open, Wynne's speed became an asset as he chased down a few leading passes to stifle Chile's attacks.

Anthony Wallace, who entered the game in place of Loyd, went forward much more, but still didn't contribute a single worthwhile cross to the USA effort.

Ream was coolly efficient as the Americans pushed forward in the final moments of the match, making good decisions on the outlet passes, and probably could be considered the defensive star of the match.

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