Juan Agudelo: "New Jewel of MLS" to Play in First CONCACAF Gold Cup and vs Spain

Carlos G GironContributor IIIMay 23, 2011

"New Jewel of MLS" to play in his first CONCACAF Gold Cup
"New Jewel of MLS" to play in his first CONCACAF Gold CupAndy Lyons/Getty Images

Sensational American striker Juan Agudelo of Red Bull New York has been selected to play for the United States national team in the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup. The 2011 edition of the Confederation’s most important event kicks off on June 5 and will played in 13 venues across the United States.

The 18-year-old Colombian-American is the first U.S. Soccer Development Academy alumnus to play for the full national team. The skillful and creative striker scored two superb goals in four appearances for the senior team, including a goal against world powerhouse Argentina in March of this year. His goal earned the U.S. a 1-1- tie after world's best player, Lionel Messi, provided a superb assist to teammate, Esteban Cambiasso, to put Argentina ahead, 1-0.

Despite his spurts of sheer brilliance, the player called "New Jewel of MLS" by ESPN Deportes magazine has yet to earn a spot in his club team’s starting lineup. With only nine games with Red Bull New York under his belt, the 6'1" forward has tallied two goals including a remarkable strike against DC United that was deemed the MLS Goal of the Week.

In his first earned cap for the United States last year, Agudelo scored the winning goal in a friendly against South Africa, becoming the youngest player to ever score for the United States senior national team. Prior to being called up by the senior national side, he played for the U.S. Under-20 and U-17 national teams.

Agudelo was born in Manizales, Colombia, a city in the central region of the country that is renowned as the country’s main center for the production of Colombian coffee. The city is also home to great soccer players and clubs, including Once Caldas FC, Colombia’s first-division champions. The club was recently eliminated by famed Santos of Brazil failing to make the semifinals of Copa Libertadores.

The USA will begin Gold Cup Group C play on June 7 against Canada, followed by a match against “Los Canaleros” of Panama on June 11, and concluding with a clash against Guadeloupe on June 14. The United States has won four Gold Cup titles and, along with Mexico, is one of the heavy favorites to take cup.

But before the Gold Cup kicks off, Agudelo will have a chance of playing against world champions Spain on June 4 in Foxborough, Mass. That highly anticipated match is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN and Univision.

Team Notes

Much-hyped former teen phenom Freddy Adu will make his return to Team USA for the first time in two years. The 21-year-old midfielder lost much luster after wowing the soccer world when he joined D.C. United at the tender age of 14. The Ghanaian-American was left off the World Cup team last summer. Adu has been consistent as of late, plying his trade at Rizespor in Turkey.

U.S. National Team roster for friendly against Spain and the 2011 CONCAF Gold Cup:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Bornstein (UANL Tigres), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Eric Lichaj (Leeds), Oguchi Onyewu (FC Twente), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Freddy Adu (Rizespor), Michael Bradley (Aston Villa), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn Rovers), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)