The Americans, playing in Cape Town Stadium, a 64,100-seat venue that they did not play in last summer, faced a South Africa squad that featured captain Stephen Pienaar, a standout for Everton of the English Premier League. U.S. coach Bob Bradley, however, chose to use the occasion to blood new players rather than play such mainstays of the U.S. national team as Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Michael Bradley. Few complaints here, as reinforcements will be necessary, and the result was a 1-0 victory for the United States and the ownership of something called the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup.
It was one newcomer, 17-year-old Juan Agudelo, who scored the winner in the 85th minute, after receiving a ball from another hardworking newcomer, 20-year-old Mikkel Diskerud. The Colombian-born Agudelo plays for New York Red Bulls, while the Norwegian-born Diskerud plays for Stabæk of Norway's top division.
Although the youngsters supplied the heroics, Bradley turned to veterans and relative journeymen to supply defensive support to a team that was suspect in that department at last summer's FIFA World Cup. Pause received just his sixth call-up to the national team, and played the full 90 minutes in the defensive midfield role.
Pause played his high school ball for Durham's Jordan High School and proceeded to UNC-Chapel Hill, where he remained for three seasons before turning professional. He has spent his entire pro career with the Chicago Fire, for whom he has made 198 appearances in eight seasons.
It's unlikely that Pause will feature on the 2014 World Cup team, by which time he will be 32 years old. But based on the clean sheet he and his fellow defenders produced today, another call-up looks to be well-deserved.