Buddle makes a statement in leading U.S. over Australia in final World Cup prep.
By Robert Wagman
(Saturday, June 5, 2010) -- The United States men recorded a 3-1 decision over Australia today in their final tune-up before thier opening World Cup match against England next Saturday. Today's match was played before a small, but loud crowd at Ruimsig Stadium -- Australia's World Cup training site -- in Roodepoort, South Africa.
Today's match was played on a narrow field and the lack of width seemed to hamper both teams. Marking was loose by both sides and this resulted in numerous chances and half chances for the two opponents.
U.S. striker Edson Buddle made a strong case for a starting job against England with a pair of well-taken goals, one with a blast to the top right corner of the net and another with a close-in header. Herculez Gomez secured the victory with a late tally.
However, the Australians' goal, which tied the match at 1-1 in the 19th minute, came because of the type of defensive disorganization which the U.S. can't afford if it hopes to emerge from Group C in the World Cup.
In the second half, Australia seemed a bit more determined than it had been in the opening 45 minutes, and this resulted in quite a bit more pressure on the U.S. defense and while it bent at times, it did not allow a goal.
All through Cup qualifying, finishing was a big problem for the Americans. While Buddle did a good job putting away his chances, fellow forward Robbie Findley noticeable did not, shooting wide at a wide-open net after going around the goalkeeper among two or three choice opportunities.
Neither side looked particularly sharp. The best thing the U.S. took away from the match was an opportunity to become more used to the altitude and a chance to better its fitness ahead of next Saturday's opening match with England.
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Tim Howard - 5.5: Really not called on to do much. Gave up a goal, but it was not his fault. A good performance.
Defender Steve Cherundolo - 6: A solid professional performance. Was rarely out of position defensively and was able to move up the side and get involved in the attack.
Defender Jay DeMerit - 5.5: A solid outing. He has a tendency to over-pursue and to pull himself out of position, but when he stays home, he is a tenacious defender who has been preparing his whole career for this tournament.
Defender Clarence Goodson - 5.5: Filled in satisfactorily for Oguchi Onyewu. Not put under much pressure, but made few obvious missteps.
Defender Carlos Bocanegra - 6: Held down the left side of the defense well although he was not put under much pressure either.
Midfielder Ricardo Clark -5: A workmanlike performance. Did little wrong, but did not make many outstanding plays either.
Midfielder Michael Bradley - 5.5: Did well defensively and controlled a large section of the midfield. Tried to move forward at times, with mixed results at best.
Midfielder Landon Donovan - 5: Disappeared for much of the match. At times, he was brilliant, such as his assist on the late Herculez Gomez goal, but then he had no impact for long stretches. Starting Saturday, he has to play 90 minutes full out.
Midfielder Clint Dempsey - 6: A consistent offensive threat all day and also did good defensive work. A solid performance.
Forward Robbie Findley - 4.5: To his credit, he put himself in position to score on a number of occasions. But his finishing was simply abysmal. So much so, he obviously hurt his chances to see much playing time in the coming World Cup matches
Forward Edson Buddle - 6: A pair of goals, one with his leg and one with his head. Moreover, he showed good pace and made a big statement as to why he should be playing at this level.
Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann (46th minute for Howard) - 6: Was a lot busier than Howard was in the first half. Made three excellent saves and showed he is ready to step in if called upon.
Defender Oguchi Onyewu (61st minute for Goodson) - 5.5: He still looks a long way from where he was before his knee surgery. It's obviously still an open question whether he can go 90 minutes against top-flight competition, but we'll learn that next Saturday.
Defender Jonathan Bornstein (65th minute for Bocanegra) - 6: A much better outing then the later stages of the previous friendly against Turkey. He covered a lot of ground, was sound and made few errors.
Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley (78th minute for Buddle) - 5: A competent, if not outstanding, short appearance. Showed he can come in and play good defense, but demonstrated little offensive flair today.
Forward Herculez Gomez (82nd minute for Dempsey) - 6 One chance, one goal. Gomez showed that he can finish and on this team that is a mighty big plus.
SoccerTimes Player of the Match: Edson Buddle.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
Do you have a comment on this story or something to say about soccer in general? Send us a letter.