photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Less than a day after earning a 1-1 draw with Argentina, the U.S. men's national team arrived in the Music City to prepare for its second-to-last friendly before the 2011 Gold Cup.
The United States did not train on Sunday and instead had a regeneration session despite being slated to face Paraguay at LP Field on Tuesday night. That doesn't mean the team's focus hasn't already turned away from Argentina and towards a Paraguay side looking to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat to Mexico, a result that put a dent in its preparations for the 2011 Copa America.
"Hopefully we can build on (our match versus Argentina)," said captain Carlos Bocanegra. "I thought we had a pretty good second half. We did some things well. There was obviously still some stuff we could improve on, but I think we'll take the confidence into this game against Paraguay and try and improve on some of the other things that we did and keep going from there."
With only three days separating the friendlies against the two South American teams, the United States knows it will need a quick turnaround in order to record its first win of 2011.
That's something the Americans seem mentally prepared for, including youngsters such as Juan Agudelo, the author of the United States' goal in the draw against the albiceleste.
"To me I think of it as just being fun," said Agudelo of the turnaround. "I don't think it's going to be tough, but we're going to see. Argentina is an amazing team and Paraguay is going to be an amazing team, too. We know that. We just need to go out there and work our best and try to play some good soccer."
The last time Paraguay and the United States met was in the Copa America in July 2007, when a young U.S. squad fell, 3-1, to Paraguay. Of the players that dressed, and played, that day, four are on the current U.S. roster (Jonathan Bornstein, Jay DeMerit, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan).
Obviously, the two teams are much different now, but they will share a common goal when they step onto the field: finetune things before their respective federation's tournament this summer.
"The baselines for us are our workrate and our energy," said Bocanegra. "I think we need to go out there and be a little bit more confident and impose our game on Paraguay, and we're going for the win."
Other News and Notes
- One player who will not be available for selection against Paraguay is Edson Buddle, who was sent back to FC Ingolstadt 04 on Sunday. That leaves 22 players in camp for head coach Bob Bradley to choose from on Tuesday.
- The United States will once again sport its new red jersey on Tuesday, forcing Paraguay to wear something other than their traditional red-and-white home uniforms.
- As of Sunday, more than 20,00 tickets have been sold for the game at LP Field.
What do you think of the upcoming USA-Paraguay match? Do you see the United States winning? Will you be attending Tuesday's friendly?
Share your thoughts below.