Fresh off Argentina tie, US set to host Paraguay
After an inspired 1-1 draw with Argentina, the United States National Team travels to Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday for a date with Paraguay (8 pm ET/5 pm PT, Fox Soccer and TeleFutura).
The US seek their first win of the 2011 campaign after come-from-behind draws with both Chile in January and Lionel Messi's squad last weekend.
The last time the US played Paraguay was during the 2007 Copa América. Jonathan Bornstein, Jay DeMerit and Sacha Kljestan all dressed in the 3-1 loss and could see time on Tuesday. Also part of that defeat was Benny Feilhaber, who is currently in camp but whose availability is in doubt this week due to a hamstring injury.
WATCH: U.S. head coach Bob Bradley and midfielder Landon Donovan preview the match
Paraguay manager Gerardo Martino led his country to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup, where they fell 1-0 to eventual champions Spain. The coach considered resigning after the tournament, but he decided to remain onboard through the 2011 Copa América. Mexico handed Paraguay a 3-1 defeat in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, so La Albirroja want to rebound in Nashville.
Roque Santa Cruz, the country's second-leading goal-scorer, isn't on the roster, but midfielder Christian Riveros — who tallied the lone goal against El Tri — and Lucas Barrios will lead the attack. Paulo da Silva and Darío Verón, both 31, hold down the defense in front of captain Justo Villar.
With only two days between games, Bob Bradley said after the Argentina match that he will likely switch around his lineup to rest some of his troops.
One of those new faces should be Juan Agudelo, the hero against Argentina. The American coaching staff is trying to keep him modest and grounded, but the New York Red Bulls forward makes a difference whenever he sees time. He'll likely earn his first start at the top of a 4-4-2 with Jozy Altidore (Edson Buddle returned to his club team in Germany after Saturday's match).
"Whenever you put him on the field, you can tell he has confidence," Bradley said of teen sensation Agudelo. "He puts himself in good positions and when the ball comes, he's strong. He has something where he is looking to try things, things that make sense."
On the back line, Timmy Chandler should get a start at right back after a solid debut in New Meadowlands Stadium. Oguchi Onyewu will sit after going 90 against Argentina, while Carlos Bocanegra may slide in next to DeMerit in the middle with Bornstein earning a start at left back. Tim Howard, who saved the Americans on a number of occasions, will likely reprise his role in net.
Martino can't help but look ahead to the summer when his team travels to Argentina for the Copa América. Paraguay have won the continental tournament twice, though their last victory came in 1979. They can't expect a victory this time around, but bettering the quarterfinal appearance in 2007 — they lost the game to Mexico, 6-0 — isn't unreasonable.
La Albirroja lost to Japan and tied China last September, but they have also scored 10 straight goals in their last three matches. However, that stretch includes victories against New Zealand (2-0) and Hong Kong (7-0). The US match represents a much sterner test for the South American side.
Aureliano Torres had to deal with Javier "Chicharito" Hernández against Mexico, and he struggled as the Manchester United star netted twice. The defender won't face the same individual talent when lining up against the US, but he and his teammates will need to improve their communication to deal with the criss-crossing of Agudelo and Altidore, as well as Chandler's pinpoint service.
United States: Jozy Altidore
In the first half against Argentina, the 21-year-old struggled to make anything happen. It wasn't his fault — on the rare occasions when he did receive the ball, he had no teammate within passing range — but Bradley's insertion of Agudelo gave Altidore some freedom. The pair combined effectively. Now it's time for the forward to score a goal, something he has only done once for the US since the 2-1 defeat of Turkey in May.
Paraguay: Lucas Barrios
"La Pantera" will serve as the focal point of Paraguay's attack. The Borussia Dortmund striker has four goals in 11 matches for his country and is the incumbent to Santa Cruz's throne. Barrios has a lethal touch in the box, a trait he demonstrated while finishing third in scoring during the 2010 Bundesliga campaign. He will occupy the American center backs all night.
US projected starting XI
Tim Howard; Timothy Chandler, Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein; Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Clint Dempsey; Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore
Paraguay projected starting XI
Justo Villar; Paulo da Silva, Darío Verón, Antolín Alcaraz, Aureliano Torres; Cristian Riveros, Enrique Vera, Marcelo Estigarribia, Oswaldo Martínez; Lucas Barrios, Óscar Cardozo
Neither team needs the victory, but the Americans have more going for them. Paraguay are reeling, while the US can build off an excellent final half-hour on a frigid night in New Jersey. The defense won't leak, and the attack will find a couple goals in the offering.
United States 2, Paraguay 0
Noah Davis covers the United States national team for MLSsoccer.com . Follow him on Twitter at @noahedavis.