Paraguay 3, United States 1


Tuesday, July 3rd 2007, 7:10 am
By: News On 6


BARINAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Looks as if the U.S. soccer team's trip to Venezuela is going to be a short one.

Four days after being routed by a superior Argentina squad in their Copa America opener, the youthful Americans were humbled even further Monday night in a 3-1 loss to Paraguay that put them on the brink of elimination.

``We gave them too many easy chances. When you give good teams and good players easy chances, they're going to beat you,'' said Kasey Keller, the veteran U.S. goalkeeper. ``But this is why we're here to give these young guys experience. Unfortunately, sometimes you need to make mistakes to learn.''

Ricardo Clark's goal in the 40th minute had tied the score 10 minutes after Edgar Barreto had put Paraguay ahead.

But then, Jimmy Conrad all but conceded Oscar Cardozo's goal in the 56th minute, which gave Paraguay a 2-1 lead. Salvador Cabanas scored his third goal of the tournament in injury time after the Americans blew chance after chance offensively.

Clark's first international goal in nine appearances was little consolation for the Americans, who lost their second straight after going 10-0-1 to start the year. It also was their first loss to Paraguay in five games and all but eliminated the U.S. team from South America's championship.

``The result is difficult for us. We feel the effort of the team was strong,'' U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. ``Nonetheless, we didn't do very well with some of the chances we created and certainly made a mistake that Paraguay was able to take advantage of.''

The 13th-ranked United States (0-2) would have to rout No. 31 Colombia in the final group stage game and get lots of help from other teams. Paraguay, ranked 37th, joined Mexico in the quarterfinals. The United States and Mexico are invited guests.

``We will know before we play our third game if we still have a chance to qualify,'' Bradley said. ``And with some luck, hopefully our game with Colombia will still give us the opportunity to get three points and move on to the next round.''

After beating Mexico for the Gold Cup title with players like Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Carlos Bocanegra, Bradley brought a largely young and untested squad to Copa America.

Did the inexperience show.

After falling apart against Argentina in the second half, the Americans were sloppy from the start against Paraguay. The U.S. had a 14-12 advantage in shots, but Eddie Johnson, Justin Mapp, and Drew Moor all missed great chances in the last 15 minutes. Moor became third player in the tournament to make his U.S. national team debut.

The Americans missed two scoring opportunities in the first 11 minutes of the game, then gave up a sloppy goal to Barreto in the 30th minute. Barreto outran Conrad and Sacha Kljestan for a through ball, and connected with a beautiful sliding kick to beat a charging Keller.

But Clark rallied the Americans 10 minutes later. Taylor Twellman knocked down a deep ball and one-touched it into Clark's path. From 18 yards out, Clark buried a hard, right-footed shot just inside the near post.

Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar left in the 56th minute after apparently injuring his right leg. But what should have been an advantage for the Americans quickly turned into a fiasco.

Backup Aldo Bobadilla had barely gotten to the goal when, at the other end, Jonathan Bornstein was trying to clear the ball back to Keller. Conrad, who started against Ghana at last summer's World Cup, let the slow-rolling ball go by, and Cardozo sprinted in to intercept it.

With Keller frozen, Cardozo slotted a left-footed shot into the net to put Paraguay up 2-1.

The Americans tried to play more aggressively, but they weren't any closer to the mark than they had been earlier in the game. Twellman missed on a weak volley from close range, Mapp bounced a ball over the crossbar with Johnson wide open at the far post and Moor, unmarked with most of the goal to shoot for, put a shot from 8 yards right into Bobadilla's arms.