Previewing USA friendly vs. South Africa

Bob Bradley bringing in youth to prep for World Cup 2014

This is the
start of something, namely the 2014 World Cup qualifying cycle.

Bob
Bradley's decision to bring a young, inexperienced squad play South Africa in
Cape Town's Green Point Stadium on Wednesday (2 p.m., ESPN2, Galavisión) shows that the American coach has his gaze
fixed firmly in the future. The group averages less than 24 years old and just
over eight caps, with six members seeking their first appearance in the Stars
and Stripes.

The inclusion of Juan Agudelo, Gale Agbossoumonde, and Mikkel
Diskerud – the former two are still eligible for the U-20 squad – hints that
Bradley is thinking at least a bit towards Brazil when the trio could star
rather than about next year's Gold Cup. The focus of the 10,000-mile plus trip
is to gain experience and indoctrinate some younger players, not getting a
result.

Of course,
a victory would be nice – it would prevent the Americans' first losing year
since 1997 – and a good showing is certainly possible against the 25th-ranked
side in the world. The Red, White and Blue squad is young, but a back line
featuring Brad Guzan in goal and Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein and
Jonathan Spector in the defense has some experience. They'll be tasked with
shutting down Bafana Bafana and former San Jose Earthquakes striker Davide
Somma, who wants to "destroy" the US after the coaching staff didn't
show interest in the Leeds United forward who moved to America when he was 12.

The
American midfield, usually a strength for Bradley, will be a mish-mash.
Alejandro Bedoya and Robbie Rogers provide some measure of stability on the
flanks, but the central spots are up for grabs. Logan Pause and Brian Carroll,
the two oldest players on the roster, will likely begin the match in the
middle, but appearances (even starts) by Eddie Gaven and Diskerud wouldn't be a
surprise.

Up top, New
York Red Bulls phenom Agudelo will earn his first cap less than six weeks after
making his Major League Soccer debut. The striker, who turns 18 on Nov. 23,
starred during the MLS playoffs and looks to cap off a year of massive improvement
with a strong showing in Cape Town. The Colombian-born talent previously played
for the U-17 and U-20 side, scoring against Brazil in the Copa Chivas. Robbie
Findley, winner of three caps during the 2010 World Cup, will start next to
Agudelo.

South
Africa were the first World Cup hosts in history to not advance out of the first round, but the side has found renewed success under new manager Pitso Mosimane.
They haven't lost in three post-World Cup matches, defeating Ghana and Niger
while drawing with Sierra Leone.

Bafana
Bafana mix experience and youth, featuring 11 members of the squad that
contested this summer's tournament while also including 11 men with less than
10 caps. Steven Pienaar and Siphiwe Tshabalala – he of the wonderful strike
against Mexico to open World Cup scoring – will lead the side into battle as the
team uses the match to help them build momentum as they continue their campaign
to qualify for the 2012 African Cup of Nations.  

Projected US lineup

Guzan

Lichaj - Spector - Goodson - Bornstein

Bedoya - Carroll - Pause - Rogers

Agudelo - Findley

Projected South Africa lineup

Khune

Gaxa - Ngcongca - Sangweni - Masilela

Letsholonyane - Modise - Dikgacoi

Pienaar - Tshabalala

Somma

Prediction

United
States 2-2 South Africa

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