United States 3-1 Australia: Buddle Brace Sinks Socceroos

The United States earned a 3-1 victory over Australia in their final warm-up before the World Cup.
In a match replete with little defending, poor finishing by both sides, and David Beckham observing from the stands, the United States Men's National Team used a first-half brace from Edson Buddle to defeat Australia 3-1 in both sides' last warm-up before the 2010 World Cup. Tim Cahill scored for the losing team that dominated possession and saw striker Joshua Blake Kennedy miss numerous opportunities. Robbie Findley flubbed two chances at the empty net, while second-half substitute Herculez Gomez demonstrated his remarkable ability to tally in short order, converting Landon Donovan's cross in second-half injury time. It was a successful afternoon for the Americans, although questions about the health of Oguchi Onyewu remain unanswered.

First Half

Edson Buddle opened the scoring with an opportunistic tally in the fourth minute. Vincenzo Grella was caught in possession just outside his 18-yard box after pressure by Robbie Findley, then the Los Angeles Galaxy striker. As his partner streaked toward the net, Buddle looked to pass, but instead took a touch to his right and blasted the Jabulani past Mark Schwarzer. The tally provided Bob Bradley with more evidence that his untested attacking duo can make a difference on the international level. It was a terrible give-away by the Socceroos, but Findley and Buddle looked calm and confident and the latter man finished well.

Findley somehow managed to miss an empty net in the 15th minute. He did wonderfully to beat the offside trap and found himself released into space. The MLS Cup-winning forward sidestepped an onrushing Schwarzer, only to shoot wide of the net's gaping maw. A miss like that could be the difference between advancing into the second round and going home early.

Tim Cahill showed why just minutes later. Australia earned a corner kick as Clarence Goodson made a mess of a clearance, and Tim Howard's teammate at Everton beat Clint Dempsey (who looked to let up) to the back post, then toe-poked the ball past the American goalkeeper.

Buddle doubled off a brilliant cross from Steve Cherundolo in the 31st minute. Hannover 96's captain used a step-over to gain space on the right flank, and then served to the far post where the goal-scorer stood unmarked. Unlike his partner, Buddle didn't miss. It was a good build up for the Stars and Stripes, but the goal also came as a result of soft defending.

Dempsey and Craig Moore earned yellow cards in the 37th. The American was lucky not to be sent of for retaliation after the defender's perhaps dangerous tackle. Bradley's side, the recipient of soft red cards during the Confederations Cup, desperately needs to avoid those types of mental lapses if it expects to emerge from group play.

Second Half

After the break, Marcus Hahnemann replaced Howard while Cahill came off in favor of Carl Valeri.

Kennedy needed to score moments after kickoff but couldn't turn his hips square to the goal and watched his shot fly harmlessly wide.

The Americans nearly doubled their lead in the 52nd minute. Donovan released Buddle who played the role of distributor after drawing Schwarzer out. His chipped cross found Findley who demonstrated his scoring ineptitude by hitting the crossbar with a sliding effort. The rebound fell to Michael Bradley but the Aussie keeper was equal to his effort, parrying the blast skyward. Dempsey finally put the ball in the back of the net but the play was called offside.

Jonathan Bornstein removed captain Carlos Bocanegra in the 55th minute, while Dario Vidosic replaced Jason Culina and Onyewu took Clarence Goodson's place six minutes later. The A.C. Milan's defender's awkward first touch resulted in a corner for the opposition, and he looked uncomfortable during his half-hour stint.

Nikita Rukavytsya joined the match in the 72nd minute, ending Richard Garcia's night.

Australia dominated possession throughout the middle part of the second stanza, but had nothing to show for their efforts. Hahnemann appeared lost on a number of crosses although he made a series of impressive saves. The performance hurts the English Premier League goalie as the American No. 2 position is presumably up for grabs before the World Cup kicks off. Brad Guzan may be considered steadier.

Grella earned himself a yellow card in the 76th minute for a reckless challenge on Dempsey. It was quite a hard tackle for a match played with little defensive intensity and perhaps it was the result of the Texan's earlier antics.

Buddle walked off the pitch after a successful night in the 79th minute with DaMarcus Beasley earning his 92nd cap, while Herculez Gomez replaced Dempsey three minutes later. The Mexican league's leading scorer found himself on a 2-on-0 break with Findley after another wonderful throughball from Donovan, but scuffed his pass, immediately pointing to the pitch as if to blame its poor quality.

The Americans iced the match in injury time as Donovan once again showed his brilliant vision. The squad's all-time leading scorer feigned a shot, instead hitting a cross on the ground. Gomez atoned for his earlier mistake, finishing from the six-yard box.

After the goal, Ricardo Clark left the pitch holding his upper hamstring and the whistle blew shortly thereafter.

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