Why Juan Agudelo Will Become a Star for the USA at World Cup 2014

Peter Brownell@pbnoregard11Contributor IApril 8, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 19:  Juan Agudelo #11 of Chivas USA controls the ball against the Columbus Crew on September 19, 2012 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Chivas USA midfielder, Juan Agudelo, is the youngest ever player to score a goal for the U.S. national team.  The Colombian-American arrived on the international stage during a friendly against South Africa in which his late goal was the game-winner. 

He has been a topic of great interest among U.S. soccer fans and media ever since. 

A product of the New York Red Bulls academy system, Agudelo has experienced many of the highs and lows that come with being a young prospect considered to have a special sort of potential.

Under Hans Backe, former manager of the Red Bulls', Agudelo struggled to find a solidified starting spot in the team's first 11.  When he did get minutes, his play was inconsistent.

There were occasions when he dazzled.  Like opening New York's 2011 scoring account against the Seattle Sounders.  Or netting this ridiculous effort against D.C. United

It is awe-inspiring moments like these that get U.S. fans so excited about the player he might some day become.  Like Freddy Adu, Eddie Johnson and Jozy Altidore before him, Agudelo faces unwarranted pressure to become the sort of dynamic, world-class striker the country has never produced but are so desperate to have. 

High expectations, coincided with injuries and scant minutes in previous seasons are just some of reasons why Agudelo's stock recently fell in the hearts and minds of many.

Overrated, some suggest.  Over hyped, others balk. 

U.S. national team manager, Jurgen Klinsmann seems convinced that Agudelo is to remain a piece of the national team's plans going forward, though.  Apart from the most recent World Cup qualifiers, Klinsmann has been consistent in calling in Agudelo to national team camps.  He's done well in friendlies, too, helping the team secure a draw in Russia with an athletic headed assist to Michael Bradley. 

Despite being left off the most recent U.S. roster the good news for Agudelo is that he is beginning to find his game at his new club, Chivas USA.  Traded during the season last year for defender Heath Pearce, Agudelo has two goals so far this year, both of which are gems and exhibit the sort of talent and capabilities this young man has in his toolbox. 

He looks a player that has grown as well.  A few years older and a few years wiser since breaking onto the scene Agudelo appears to understand more fully what it takes to be a professional at the highest level.  His winter training stint in Scotland with Champions League club, Celtic FC undoubtedly aided in this transition.  

Agudelo has a certain unique set of skills that set him apart from other strikers.  When fit, his pace is formidable.  His strength, too, is something he can lean on.  He can hold off bigger opponents with his back to goal and shake defenders with a well-timed shoulder challenge.  Just ask Jeff Larentowicz

His is also adept in one-on-one situations.  Agudelo has quick feet and excellent dribbling technique.  He is fearless, unconcerned with the prospects of losing the ball if the reward is breaking down a defender with his dribble.

Perhaps most importantly, is that Agudelo can finish.  Not only does is he collected enough to finish big chances but he can also score the spectacular goal.  The types of goals that has an entire nation of soccer fans drooling over. 

That trait, his penchant for the spectacular, gives Agudelo the chance to be a star for the United States on the biggest stage in Brazil.  Assuming he continues he quality form for Chivas USA, there is simply no way he will be left of the U.S. roster in the coming qualifiers. 

He still has a lot of work to do.  And there are strikers in the U.S. player pool that Agudelo will have to overtake.  Proven strikers like Jozy Altidore and Hercules Gomez.  As well as young studs like himself in Terrence Boyd. 

For Agudelo, though, the goal is simple: be in the first 11 in that first World Cup group match in Brazil.  It will be a pleasure watching him continue to try and get there. 


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