Winners and Losers: U.S. v. Czech Republic

Noah Davis picks out who came out ahead and who fell.
EAST HARTFORD - An intentionally undermanned United States Men's National Team squad lost 4-2 to the Czech Republic in the squad's final match before Bob Bradley names his 23-man World Cup roster. Let's take a look at who helped his cause and who will be going home.


Stuart Holden - The Bolton midfielder was already on the roster, but he made a major case for starting against England with his play Tuesday night. Holden ran hard, although he admittedly tired around the 75th minute in his first full game since breaking a leg three and a half months ago. The former Houston Dynamo star blocked a dangerous free kick early and delivered the dead balls that led to both American goals. He demonstrated his versatility sliding into the central midfield position for the last 20-plus minutes.

Jose Torres - A product of Pachuca's youth system, the diminutive player boasts a creative vision few in the Stars and Stripes possess. He demonstrated this talent with well-placed passes from the center of the pitch. Torres looked more confident against the Czechs than he has in other matches, a product of his growing familiarity with the U.S. system. Although he and partner Maurice Edu showed a bit of confusion in the attack at times, the pair played some nice one-two passes. Better yet, the midfielder stayed his ground defensively and proved he can take, and dish out, hard challenges.

Maurice Edu - At Rangers, Edu demonstrated a skill for tallying scrappy goals. He did the same against the Europeans, pouncing on a loose ball and smashing it past Petr Cech for the Red, White, and Blues' first score. The U.S. will need these types of tallies if they expect to succeed in South Africa. Edu tracked back defensively, throwing his head in to dramatically clear a dangerous free kick. He tallied off as the first half wore on, but returned strong in the second stanza. With the exception of one major gaffe, he even displayed some chops when paired with Clarence Goodson (who almost made the winners list) at centerback.

DaMarcus Beasley - The 2002 and 2006 World Cup veteran continued his late (and likely successful) push to make the 2010 squad. A blur on the flank during the opening 45, Beasley showed a nice bit of skill in the 29th minute. Facing his net, he chipped the ball over a Czech midfielder, turned, and raced up field drawing a foul. He very nearly had an assist to Eddie Johnson in the 36th, but the Aris striker was just offside. Edu's teammate at Rangers -- the subject of positive talk all week -- likely booked his ticket Tuesday night.

Herculez Gomez - The leading soccer in the Mexican league tallied most of his goals off the bench. He pulled off a similar feat in East Hartford, heading Clarence Goodson's cross into the back of the net after finding himself alone on the back post. After the match, he said it was "10 percent me, 90 percent Clarence," but in-form players make those opportunities happen. Gomez is nothing if not in form. (And the coming off the bench role is exactly the one he'll play in South Africa.) Additionally, he's developed a partnership with sure-thing Ching that can only benefit him.


Edson Buddle
- The on-fire Los Angeles Galaxy striker started with Eddie Johnson. While he was credited with a helper on Edu's goal -- and Bradley praised his effort on the play -- he didn't show enough, frequently because he was trying to do too much. In the 11th minute, Buddle had Holden open, but tried to dribble through the backline. A poor decision like that will stand out in the coaching staff's mind. On the night, Buddle earned an assist and a bloody nose, but not a trip to the World Cup.

Sacha Kljestan - A late push from Kljestan will fall short. The second-half substitute demonstrated some impressive creativity and vision on the ball, but it's too little, too late for the Chivas USA star. He turned the ball over too often and will lose the role of late-match offensive infusion to Torres.

Heath Pearce - If Bradley chooses to take an eighth defender, Pearce will go. After Tuesday's effort, however, the coach will likely opt for Beasley as an emergency left back. Jan Polak badly beat the FC Dallas fullback to score. Pearce didn't help himself by missing passes to midfielders. And then there was the terribly timed slide tackle that led to another Czech tally. The defender didn't have his best night when it mattered the most.

Noah Davis (@noahedavis) covers the Untied States Men's National Team for and will be reporting from the World Cup in South Africa.