U.S.' Edson Buddle staked his claim for a starting spot against England next Saturday with two goals in a friendly victory over Australia in Roodepoort.
Buddle, who plays up front for LA Galaxy and is the leading goalscorer in the MLS so far this season, struck twice in the first half of an open and entertaining final warm-up before the U.S. begin their World Cup campaign against England on Saturday 12 June.
Herculez Gomez, another back-up striker, came off the bench to score the U.S.' third in the 93rd minute, with Landon Donovan also looking impressive for U.S. on the right flank.
In contrast, they looked continually shaky at the back and were carved open on several occasions. On this evidence, they may struggle to deal with Wayne Rooney and co in Rustenberg.
They needed only four minutes to open the scoring, however, as Buddle took advantage of some slack defensive play before beating Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer with a powerful 15-yard drive.
The Socceroos were second best in the early stages and Robbie Findley should have doubled the U.S.’ advantage after 15 minutes, taking the ball past Schwarzer but then shooting wide.
Everton's Tim Cahill levelled for Australia against the run of play after 19 minutes following the U.S.’ failure to deal with a corner.
Fulham's Mark Schwarzer blocked several shots for Australia as the Americans piled on the pressure, but was unable to prevent Buddle restoring the U.S’ lead after 31 minutes when he headed in a right-wing cross by Steven Cherundolo.
Veteran Wolves keeper Marcus Hahnemann, who replaced Tim Howard in the U.S goal at half-time, did well to twice block close-range efforts from Mark Bresciano, with U.S. continuing to look uncertain almost every time the ball was put into the danger area.
Hahnemann also turned away a fierce late drive from substitute Nikita Rukavytsya before the U.S.’ persistence was rewarded when Herculez Gomez tucked away Donovan's low cross in stoppage time to make it 3-1.
© Guardian News and Media 2010
Keywords: 2010 World Cup