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American men battle to 1-1 tie with Peru in front of pro-Peru crowd

Peru’s Johan Madrid (2) blocks the path of American forward Bobby Wood during Tuesday night’s men’s soccer friendly before more than 29,000 fans at Rentschler Field.

EAST HARTFORD, October 16 – One of the ideas of the six-game Kickoff Series this fall for the U.S. men’s soccer team is to gain some international experience for their up and coming players.

The Americans had three players making their first-ever appearances for Team USA and put out a starting lineup that had nine players with eight or few caps (appearances).

No. 21 Peru dominated with 14 shots on net compared to just two for the United States. But the Americans converted on the few chances they had to earn a 1-1 tie with Peru before a pro-Peru crowd of 29,959 fans Tuesday night at Rentschler Field.

When the U.S. scored four minutes in the second half, it sucked some of the energy out of the crowd. But that energy re-emerged when Peru scored with four minutes remaining to secure the tie. A low cross from Andy Polo, who plays for the MLS’ Portland Timbers, got behind two American defenders and found an unmarked Edison Flores at the back post, who deflected the ball into the net.

“As expected, we faced a very good team tonight,” American coach Dave Sarachan said. “They demonstrated exactly what I expected – quality on the ball, quickness, speed and experience.”

United States men’s soccer player Bobby Woods gets past two defenders in Tuesday night’s international soccer game in East Hartford.

Peru dominated long stretches of the first half as the Americans seemingly let them dribble at will. Peru had just four shots on goal in the opening 45 minutes but they spent much of the first half with the ball.

“We’re progressing in the right direction,” Sarachan said of his young squad, now 3-3-3 on the year. “They’re establishing an identity of competitiveness, playing aggressively, playing together and understanding each other.”

Tied 0-0 at the half, the Americans sprung the attack on the other side of halftime.

Just two minutes in, Jonathan Amon, who was making his debut with the U.S. National team pumped a ball over the back line to put 18-year-old Josh Sargent into space. The striker gained entry into the box, and cut back to juke a Peru defender before centering for Weah, but his one-time effort curved wide of the right post.

With a bit of confidence after that play, Sargent scored two minutes later. Following a foul committed against Amon on the right, Kellyn Acosta delivered a pinpoint low ball for Sargent at the top of the area, with the young striker hitting a one-time effort that came off of both Christian Ramos and Renato Tapia before hitting the back of the net.

Peru tied the game with under four minutes remaining. “We’re disappointed with the tie. We realize they had chances but we need to close that out,” Sarachan said.

American Markly Delgado (8) and Peru’s Renato Tapia (13) battle for the ball in Tuesday’s international friendly in East Hartford.

American goalie Brad Guzan (59 caps or appearances)  played like a veteran throughout the game. He spent the first half barking instructions to his team throughout much of the first half. He made a nice save with about seven minutes left in the first half to keep the game scoreless.

Peru’s Andy Polo played a pass for Paolo Hurtado down the right side of the field. The winger swung in a dangerous cross to the near post, but Guzan alertly read it, cutting out the danger at the six with Raul Ruidiaz ready to strike.

In the second half, he made some big saves to keep the Americans in the game. In stoppage time, Peru was looking for the game-winning goal. On a free kick from the right side of the field, Yordy Reyna put a tough shot on Guzan who dove and deflected the shot away.

Another great look came to Peru in the later stages of the second half when Yotún played a pass for Polo. The Portland Timbers’ attacker hit a 25-yard effort that beat Guzan, but rang off the cross bar before the follow-up header from Ruidiaz was nodded over the bar.

Sarachan smiled when he asked about the atmosphere that pro-Peru throughout the early evening. “From my vantage point, it was loud,” he said. “There was good enthusiasm. I thought the atmospheric was energtic and loud. The field played well.”

The Americans head to Europe to close out 2018 and the Kickoff Series next month. The window opens in London as the USA makes its second visit to new Wembley Stadium to take on 2018 FIFA World Cup semifinalists England on Thursday, Nov. 15 (3 p.m. ET; ESPN2). The curtain comes down on the 2018 schedule five days later, when the MNT travels to Genk, Belgium to face four-time World Cup winners Italy at the Luminus Arena (2:45 p.m. ET; FS1).

NOTES: Jonathan Amon, Reggie Cannon and Aaron Long made their first start with the U.S. national team in the contest. … At age 19, Jonathan Amon became the sixth teenager to appear for the MNT in 2018,the most of any calendar year during the modern era . He joined Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent and Tim Weah, as well as recently-turned 20-year olds Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic. … Sargent became just the fourth men’s player of the modern era to record two goals before his 19th birthday. Sargent, who is from O’Fallon, Missouri, plays for Werder Bremen in Germany. The 18-year-old joins Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo and Christian Pulisic in that distinction. … Kellyn Acosta recorded his first career international assist on Sargent’s strike. … Entering in the 79th minute, Michael Bradley earned his 142nd cap, moving him past Clint Dempsey into sole possession of third on the MNT’s all-time list.  … The Americans move to 3-2-2 all-time against Peru. … The game was the seventh men’s game at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.

The American men’s soccer team poses for a photo before Tuesday night’s international soccer game in East Hartford.

United States 1, Peru 1
At East Hartford
USA                             0    1    1
Peru                             0    1    1
Goals: USA – Josh Sargent (Kellyn Acosta)  49; Peru – Edison Flores (Andy Polo)  86
Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 18-Reggie Cannon (2-DeAndre Yedlin; 84), 5-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 21-Aaron Long, 19-Ben Sweat; 20-Will Trapp (capt.), 11-Tim Weah (17-Antonee Robinson; 90+2), 8-Marky Delgado, 23-Kellyn Acosta (4-Michael Bradley; 79), 24-Jonathan Amon (16-Julian Green; 55); 13-Josh Sargent (7-Bobby Wood; 69)
PER: 21-José Carvallo; 5-Alexander Callens, 7-Paolo Hurtado (26-Yordy Reyna; 59), 8-Sergio Peña (19-Yoshimar Yotún; 66), 11-Raúl Ruidiaz, 13-Renato Tapia (23-Pedro Aquino; 67), 14-Andy Polo (18-André Carrillo; 90+1), 15-Christian Ramos (capt.), 17-Luis Advíncula (2-Johan Madrid; 46), 20-Edison Flores, 22-Nilson Loyola

Shots on goal, 14-5. Peru; Shots on goal 3-2, Peru; Saves: US, 2-1; Corner kicks: Peru 6-2; Fouls: David Blanda. 12-10; Offsides: Blanda 0-2

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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