The United States' attack livened up considerably with the halftime introduction of Juan Agudelo.What went right?
The answer to this question starts with Juan Agudelo's introduction at the half. After Jozy Altidore struggled on his own in the first half, Agudelo and Altidore were much more effective as a tandem in the second half. Agudelo generally dropped in deeper while Altidore tried to stretch the Argentinian defense when the two were on the pitch together.
The two strikers combined quite effectively on a couple of occasions, most notably a great cross from Altidore that an onrushing Agudelo met and had knocked out for a corner by an Argentinian defender. The chance came right after Agudelo's goal evened the score at one.
Altidore seemed much more comfortable with Agudelo as his foil, as he was able to use his size to win headers and hold the ball up. The USA attack was much more cohesive with Altidore using his physical tools to his advantage.
Agudelo, for his part, injected energy and pace that the United States was clearly lacking during the entire first half. His goal was an easy finish, but an example of the poaching instinct that all good goalscorers possess. He showed confidence, but also didn't try to do too much the way Altidore did in certain spots in the first half.
What went wrong?
Jozy Altidore struggled to find the ball in the first half as the lone striker. When he did get it, more often than not, he would attempt the spectacular and go at his defenders instead of keeping the ball. He did not get the height that Bob Bradley would have wanted from a lone striker, as he found himself in his own half on a number of occasions.
Through the second half, both Altidore and Agudelo found themselves withdrawn in their defensive side of the field, leaving their team little chance at establishing possession in Argentina's side of the field. Though their opposition may have forced them back at times, the two strikers were much more effective as the focal point of their team's attack.
Where to go from here?
Bob Bradley will be hard pressed to watch both halves again and say that Altidore as a lone forward is his side's best option. Agudelo actually played the hold-up role better than Altidore did against Argentina, but it may be asking too much to start the 18-year-old as a lone striker at this point.
Though he may loathe to say it, Bradley may have to admit that starting Altidore and Agudelo together represents his side's best chance at goals right now. The last few international matches for the USA have seen them tinker with variations of a 4-5-1 formation, but it is becoming clear that a formation with two forwards gives his side the best chance at goals right now.
United States fans can be encouraged by a potential Altidore/Agudelo pairing. Altidore's size and strength appear to be a great counterpart to Agudelo's quickness. With some more time on the pitch together, these two could become the undisputed first-choice forward line as the USA looks toward the Gold Cup this summer.
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