U.S. soccer team sizes up similarly ranked opponent in local match

Monday, March 28, 2011 at 11:22pm

No trophies or titles will be at stake when the United States faces Paraguay at an international soccer friendly Tuesday at LP Field.

That does not mean the Americans lack motivation.

“They’re a team that’s very good and a very good marker for where we’re at,” defender Jay DeMerit said. “Going against a team like Paraguay, you’re going against a team that’s supposedly around your ranking.”

The United States is 19th in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of national soccer teams (updated March 9), down one spot from the previous month. Paraguay is 24th.

That matchup comes two days after the Americans played No. 4 Argentina to a 1-1 tie at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

“The Argentina game is always a challenge for us, and it’s just to test ourselves against the best players in the world,” DeMerit said. “Argentina is one of the best teams in the world. They’ve proved that time and time again.”

The U.S. and Paraguay have played five times and the Americans are 2-1-2 in those meetings. The series dates back to the 1930 World Cup (a 3-0 U.S. victory) with the most recent meeting a 3-1 Paraguay victory in 2007.

“Paraguay, as we know, is organized and has some very talented players,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “The turnaround is quick with the Saturday to Tuesday [schedule], so we’ll think about some different changes and that certainly includes some of the younger players.”

Thirteen of the 21 players on the current roster played for the U.S. at last year’s World Cup.

The next World Cup is three years away, but the U.S. will compete in the Gold Cup in June. The Gold Cup is a 12-team, biennial event for national teams from North America, South America and the Caribbean.

Tuesday’s game will be the last for the Americans until the Gold Cup.

“To go into Nashville and try to work together as a team and continue to try to build this team toward the summer and the Gold Cup is what we’re working for,” DeMerit said.

What: United States vs. Paraguay

When: 7 p.m., Tuesday

Where: LP Field

Admission: $20, $27, $38, $50, $70, $95, $125 or $150.

To purchase tickets: All area Ticketmaster outlets, LP Field ticket office or by phone at 1 (800) 745-3000.

Television: Fox Soccer Channel

Of note: This is the second appearance for the U.S. men’s national team in Nashville and third major international contest in three years. The Americans defeated Trinidad and Tobago 3-0 in a 2009 World Cup qualifier. In 2008, the under-23 men’s team clinched a spot in the Beijing Olympics with a victory over Canada.