Los Angeles Soccer: Nii Lamptey

South African victory a triumph for youth

November, 17, 2010

AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam
U.S. players celebrate after Juan Agudelo's goal lift them to a 1-0 victory over South Africa.

The best thing about the U.S. national team's trek to South Africa wasn't Wednesday's 1-0 triumph in the Nelson Mandela Challenge at Cape Town -- although that certainly was nice and was rewarded with a sweet trophy -- nor any of the philanthropic activities, and not even Thursday's scheduled sit down with Mandela himself.

It was the way in which a young U.S. side asserted itself, and what that might mean going forward.

Four players 20 or younger debuted in the triumph over Bafana Bafana, and all fared well as the Yanks, missing nearly all of their first-choice players, had the better of play against an experienced side playing at home in front of 52,000 vuvuzela-blowing fanatics.

Big props especially to Colombia-born forward Juan Agudelo, who six days shy of his 18th birthday became the youngest player ever to score for the U.S., and Norway-born and -bred midfielder Mikkel Diskerud, who combined with Agudelo on the goal and repeatedly made mature, important defensive decisions.

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