Pause Goes 90, US Wins

Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause did well in his return to the U.S. men’s national team, pacing the midfield for the full 90 minute in the visitors 1-0 victory over South Africa Wednesday night in Cape Town.

U.S. manager Bob Bradley relied on an experimental squad of international reserves and first-timers whose average age was just over 23, as he looked to cause as little conflict as possible with player’s European clubs and those that were or are still involved in the MLS Cup playoffs.

One of the two eldest players on the U.S. roster, the 29-year-old Pause did well to partner with Brian Carroll in the U.S. midfield. Having last appeared for the U.S. in the final of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup loss to Mexico, It was typical performance for the eight-year Fire veteran – not flashy, rarely a mistake -- just making himself known when he needed to be.

Pause was joined in the U.S. starting lineup by former Fire PDL players defenders Tim Ream (2009) and Eric Lichaj (2005) as well as Brad Guzan (2004).  The halftime substitutions of defender Jonathan Spector (2003) and Teal Bunbury (Chicago Fire Super-20’s; 2009) meant six of the 11 players on the field for the U.S. had ties to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club.

Of course that fact was upstaged by one moment of brilliance between late second half subs making their first U.S. appearances.

Norwegian based midfielder Mikkel Diskerud pulled the ball back in the box  before touching a quick pass to New York Red Bulls Academy product Juan Aguedelo. The 17-year-old striker took the ball off the knee before blasting it off the cross bar, bouncing down just over the goal line to give the U.S. the winner in the 85th minute.

The goal capped a great performance for a young side playing in front of 60,000-strong in Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium and gave the U.S. it’s second Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup trophy, having previously beat South Africa by a similar score line in November 2007.

The U.S. Men’s National Team ends 2010 with a 5-5-4 record.

Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall