USA 2 – Czech Republic 4

Czech Republic v United States


The scoreline of a 4-2 US loss to the Czech Republic may not have been important (the match mainly served as a World Cup tryout for a few players), but one particular passage of play could have repercussions for US hopes in South Africa: when a 44th minute cross sailed into the box, Czech Republic midfielder Tomas Sivok soared into the air, Oguchi Onyewu did not, and US fans’ dreams of a successful World Cup took a staggering blow. The 44th minute free kick should have been cleared by the towering Onyewu, but the center back – out since October with a knee injury – misjudged Sivok’s run and could not even manage to leave the ground in an attempt to clear the cross.

US fans, and manager Bob Bradley, will hope this was an example of a defender who hasn’t played in 7 months, not an instance of a player who doesn’t trust a surgically-repaired knee.

1st Half

Onyewu’s gaffe may have been disheartening, but the first half did start well for the USA, who opened the scoring in the 17th. Stuart Holden’s lovely free kick, earned by Edson Buddle, grazed Buddle’s shoulder and Maurice Edu’s whisper of a touch did the rest.

As the first half progressed, both squads focused their attacks out wide. Stuart Holden and Steve Cherundolo combined effectively down the right for the US, but their success was countered by the sieve-like defense of Jonathan Bornstein and DaMarcus Beasley on the left. While the US managed to control much of the first 45, Onyewu’s mistake meant the half ended 1-1.

USA's Starting Lineup

2nd Half

Bob Bradley continued the audition process by bringing on 5 players at the start of the second period – Brian Ching for Johnson, Herculez Gomez for Edson Buddle, Sacha Kljestan for Jose Torres, Robbie Rogers for Beasley, and Heath Pearce for Bornstein.

With both teams continuing to press down the wings, the US dictated the pace, but poor defending led to the Czech Republic grabbing the lead in the 58th when Pearce lost sight of his man, Jan Polack, who slotted in a cross.

The US sought an equalizer and found it eight minutes later. Another lofted Holden cross – off a corner this time – was tapped across goal by Clarence Goodson and Gomez calmly headed past Cech.

The US dominated for the next ten minutes – during this period Alejandro Bedoya came on for Onyewu, pushing Holden to center mid and Edu to center back – but the left side of defense was again taken advantage of in the 77th: Pearce failed to stop service from the wing and Martin Fenin placed the ensuing loose ball past Guzan.

The visitors appeared to be content with the 3-2 result, playing all 11 men behind the ball, and though the US pushed forward, the Czechs ended up with one more goal after Kljestan appeared to dribble straight at a Czech midfielder, Edu lost the resulting aerial challenge, and Guzan demonstrated a lack of playing time by not reacting to the break. The 90th minute Tomas Necid goal was the last real opportunity for either side.

Player Performances

Impressed

- Holden was instrumental on the right flank in the first half.

– Gomez displayed a classic ‘nose for goal’ and was the only US striker to constantly press forward.

- Ching (as always) worked, worked, worked, combining well with Gomez on a few occasions.

- Goodson displayed a better aerial presence than Onyewu and was involved on both US goals.

- Edu did not show much as a center back but had a quality performance at center midfield.

- Torres laced together some tidy passes and looked comfortable alongside Edu.

Poor

- Bornstein had an inept defensive performance and added nothing in attack.

- Pearce never got forward and was beaten for two goals, failing to take advantage of Bornstein’s poor showing.

- Johnson and Buddle worked well together, but if they were unable to generate a single shot against the Czech Republic, it’s hard to imagine them having success against England.

Upcoming Post

With outside midfield a contested roster spot, FFG decided to follow the performance of Beasley, Bedoya, and Rogers. Look for tomorrow’s post tracking their every touch.

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