Bobby Wood converted a penalty kick late in the first half Tuesday and the U.S. national team earned its first victory since failing to qualify for the World Cup, a 1-0 decision over Paraguay in a friendly at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
The goal came after Marky Delgado’s supreme long ball to Tyler Adams, who had raced past a defender and bore down on Roberto Fernandez before being upended by the goalkeeper. Wood, one of only four regulars on the young U.S. squad, converted into the low right corner in the 45th minute for his 11th international goal.
“Marky Delgado’s a good passer. He’s a connector; he’s got good feet,” interim coach Dave Sarachan said. “Tyler Adams has an incredible engine. The combination of a good passer and a guy that can run can be deadly. We talked about breaking Paraguay’s line and Tyler’s timing on the run to draw the penalty was excellent.”
Since losing at Trinidad and Tobago in October, a result that ended their bid for an eighth consecutive World Cup berth, the Americans had played to a 1-1 draw at Portugal and 0-0 tie with Bosnia in Carson, Calif. The next three friendlies are against Bolivia on May 28 in Chester, Pa., Ireland on June 2 in Dublin and France on June 9 in Lyon.
Delgado, a midfielder for MLS Cup champion Toronto FC, made his international debut. Andrija Novakovich, a Dutch-based forward, also debuted, entering in the 77th minute for Wood (Hamburg). Midfielder Tim Weah — an 18-year-old prospect for Paris Saint-Germain and the son of former FIFA player of the year George Weah — was a late replacement for Delgado and became the first player born in the 2000s to earn a U.S. senior cap.
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, a former University of Maryland standout now with the Columbus Crew, played all 90 minutes in his second senior appearance.
Despite being allowed six substitutes, Sarachan made only four. The others were Rubio Rubin (Tijuana) for Kenny Saief (Anderlecht) in the 67th minute and Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders) for Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United) in stoppage time.
The match attracted a sellout crowd of 9,825.
U.S. LINEUP: Steffen; Yedlin, Carter-Vickers, Miazga, Villafaña; Trapp; Nagbe (Roldan 90+), Adams, Delgado (Weah 86th), Saief (Rubin 67th); Wood (Novakovich 77th).
Did not play: Hamid, Lichaj, Palmer-Brown, Moore, Robinson.
Not in uniform: Bono, Manneh, McKennie (injured).