USA Vs. South Africa: Debutants Shine As U.S. Ends Year With Victory

Bob Bradley's starting lineup choices continue to frustrate, but at least he was willing to go outside his comfort zone with his substitutions against South Africa.

Five players made their senior national team debuts during the United States' 1-0 victory over South Africa, with two of those players coming off the bench to create the game's only goal.

Juan Agudelo and Mikkel Diskerud were the brightest of the U.S. debutants. Agudelo scored his first senior team goal and Diskerud registered his first assist despite the pair combining for less than a half worth of playing time.

Agudelo started the goal-scoring sequence in the 85th minute with a through ball to Diskerud, who controlled it just inside the penalty area. After fending off two defenders with some clever footwork, Diskerud found Agudelo following his own pass with a run through the middle. Diskerud floated the ball forward, Agudelo controlled it with a nifty touch off his thigh and then struck it off the underside of the crossbar with the outside of his foot. The show of skill by both players is the exact kind of thing USMNT followers have been craving for years, but have rarely witnessed from their own players.

With the goal, the 17-year-old became the youngest player to ever score for the United States' senior team.

Also making their U.S. senior team debuts were Tim Ream (who started at center back), Teal Bunbury (who was a halftime substitute) and Gale Agbossoumonde (who came on in the 87th minute).

Ream got off to a rough start, but played well after the first 15-20 minutes. Bunbury did not get a lot of touches, but was much more effective as a lone striker than Robbie Findley, who started up top. Bunbury had one nice attempt on goal where he controlled a ball and struck a nice ball on the pivot.

Prior to the goal, the U.S. had looked solid if unspectacular while playing with a roster mostly made up of second- and third-choice national teamers.

Brad Guzan, who has rarely played either at the club or national team levels in the past couple seasons, was sharp in goal and did an admirable job directing the defense. Robbie Rogers had one of his better games in awhile and made some dangerous runs, especially early on. Alejandro Bedoya, one of the last players to be left off the World Cup team, was strong on the right side before giving way to Diskerud in the 78th minute.

The one player who looked particularly bad was Findley, one of only two Americans on the roster who started during the most recent World Cup (Jonathan Bornstein was the other). Findley was obviously overmatched as a lone striker, had tremendous trouble controlling and keeping the ball and was justly pulled at halftime. SB Nation Soccer colleague Kevin McCauley counted six first-half giveaways for a player who has recently expressed his desire to play professionally in Europe.

The win brought the USMNT's record in 2010 across all competitions to 5-4-5, meaning they've won at least as many games as they've lost every year since at least 1998 (the year the records at ussoccer.com go back to).

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