U.S. falls to Czechs in Connecticut
The Czech Republic exposed the United States' defensive deficiencies time and again, taking advantage of sloppy play in a 4-2 victory Tuesday in the first of three World Cup warmup matches for the Americans.
Maurice Edu opened the scoring in the 17th minute in front of a crowd of 36,218 at Rentschler Field, only to have the Czechs surge ahead with goals from Tomas Sivok in the 44th and Jan Polak in the 58th.
Second-half substitute Herculez Gomez equalized for the U.S. when he beat Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech in the 65th following a backheel pass by Brian Ching.
Martin Fenin put the Czechs ahead again when he beat backup U.S. keeper Brad Guzan in the 78th after Heath Pearce, Clarence Goodson and Steve Cherundolo failed to clear a ball in front of goal.
"A lot of energy at times. A little bit crazy," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "In the process of trying to put so much into it I think at times we left ourselves wide open."
Tomas Necid sealed the win in the 90th after Edu jumped and failed to clear a pass, giving Necid an open path to the goal.
The Czech Republic failed to qualify for the World Cup.
Bradley planned to cut seven players Wednesday and announce his final 23-man World Cup squad.
"We're all nervous," Gomez said, "anxiously awaiting Bob's decision."
Next up is another warmup against Turkey in Philadelphia on Saturday, a day before the Americans leave for South Africa.
Once there, the U.S. has a final friendly against Australia on June 5, one week before its World Cup opener against England.
Gomez, DaMarcus Beasley and Stuart Holden had excellent games that appeared to boost their chances.
AC Milan defender Oguchi Onyewu played 65 minutes and struggled in his first match since knee surgery. Eddie Johnson was at forward for the first half and didn't do much.
"I didn't feel rusty at all," Onyewu said. "I don't think there was any moment in the game that the speed got over me. I think I neutralized their strikers and they didn't get anything on me."
Edson Buddle, making his second national team appearance and first in seven years, made some aggressive forays in the first half and spent nearly five minutes on the side getting treatment for a cut on his face.
Edu, who became a regular for Glasgow Rangers by the end of the season, scored his first goal in 13 international appearances. Holden, playing just his second match since Nigel de Jong broke his right leg with a challenge in the March 3 friendly at the Netherlands, sent a free kick in from the near side. Cech came out but didn't reach the cross, and the ball went from Buddle to Edu, who knocked it in.
Sivok equalized when he took advantage of a slow-to-react Onyewu. Onyewu tore his left patellar tendon in the last World Cup qualifier on Oct. 14 and had surgery a week later. He didn't play for AC Milan at the end of the season and made his return against the Czechs.
Following a foul by Goodson, Jaroslav Plasil sent a free kick across the box and Sivok headed the ball past Guzan, playing his first match since Aston Villa's FA Cup match with Crystal Palace on Feb. 24. Onyewu was late with his jump and was badly beaten.
Polak beat Pearce to David Lafata's pass in front and easily put the ball past Guzan
United States: Brad Guzan; Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu (Alejandro Bedoya, 65th), Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein (Heath Pearce, 46th); Stuart Holden, Jose Torres (Sacha Kljestan, 46th), Maurice Edu, DaMarcus Beasley (Robbie Rogers, 46th); Eddie Johnson (Brian Ching, 46th), Edson Buddle (Herculez Gomez, 46th)
Czech Republic: Petr Cech; Ondrej Kusnir, Jan Rajnoch, Tomas Sivok, Libor Sionko (Jan Moravek, 85th), Jan Polak (Mario Holek, 90th), Daniel Pudil, Jaroslav Plasil (David Limbersky, 90th), Tomas Hubschman, Martin Fenin (Milan Cerny, 78th), David Lafata (Tomas Necid, 67th)