U.S. unimpressive in victory over El Salvador

i-b6b45e8c76a4a17205c78c1e9f2a5beb-rogerselsalvador.jpgColumbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers of Rolling Hills Estates is tackled by El Salvador’s Juan Carlos Moscoso today in the penultimate U.S. game before Coach Bob Bradley selects his World Cup squad (AP Photo).

Chivas USA’s Sacha Kljestan may have booked his spot to South Africa with the kind of opportunistic play Coach Bob Bradley will be looking for when he stole the ball late on from a dithering defender, played a one-two with Brian Ching and smashed the ball home to snatch a U.S. victory in stoppage time.

But for the third consecutive game against El Salvador, the U.S. had to come from behind to win and few players covered themselves with glory today.

Robbie Rogers showed poor decision-making ability when he shot instead of crossing in the second half as two U.S. attackers lurked in the box, earning him a withering look from Ching.

It was Ching’s well-taken near-post header that gave the U.S. the equalizer.

Here’s the game report:

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Without its Europe-based regulars, the U.S. appears far from ready for the World Cup.

Brian Ching scored on a diving header in the 75th minute and Sacha Kljestan got the go-ahead goal in the second minute of stoppage time Wednesday night in a 2-1 exhibition victory over against 71st-ranked El Salvador.

Ching, a second half sub, scored on a 7-yard shot off a long cross from Heath Pearce that goalkeeper Miguel Montes misplayed, offsetting Rudis Corrales’ 59th-minute goal
for Los Cuscatlecos.

Kljestan intercepted an errant pass, exchanged passes with Ching and scored from 6 yards.

Ching, Kljestan and Pearce were among only a handful of U.S. players on the night’s roster who appear to have a decent chance of being selected for the World Cup roster. Ching was on the 2006 team but didn’t get into a match.

All but one of the U.S. players was from Major League Soccer, which appears to be on the verge of its first strike. The Americans again badly missed their Europe-based starters, who also weren’t used in the 3-1 loss to Honduras on Jan. 23.

For next Wednesday’s exhibition against the third-ranked Netherlands in Amsterdam, the No. 14 U.S. lineup should more closely resemble the team that helped the Americans qualify for their sixth straight World Cup. That is the last match before U.S. coach Bob Bradley selects his 23-man World Cup roster.

Players will gather in mid-May and have exhibitions against the Czech Republic (May 25) and Turkey (May 29 at Philadelphia) before leaving for South Africa. Coming off first-round elimination at the 2006 World Cup, they open the tournament June 12 against England, play Slovenia six days later and close the first round June 23 against Algeria.

Pearce started at left back and Brad Evans at right back, with Jonathan Bornstein and Clarence Goodson — the lone Europe-based player — in the center. Ching entered at the start of the second half in place of Conor Casey. Nick Rimando was surprise starter in goal in place of Troy Perkins.

Corrales put El Salvador ahead after Evans made an errant header deep in the U.S. zone that appeared intended for Rimando.

The U.S. had five shots on goal to one for El Salvador in the first half, with Montes making diving saves on Kljestan and Robbie Rogers.

Who from this game should make the World Cup roster? Ching? Rogers? Kljestan? Anyone?

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  • Kyle

    benny feilhaber may be the only player who is not a lock for the world cup who has shown that he can consistently make a difference in games whether he is starting or coming off the bench

  • Brian

    Kljestan played well enough in my opinion to merit consideration. Still not sure about Ching as fitness still appears to be an issue IMO. Go Yanks!

  • Studs Up

    Woeful performance against a horrible team. Keep Bornstein and Goodson and dump the rest.

    Best attacking player for US was playing for El Salvador. Come back Arturo.

    PS – Rogers’ dad should have hired someone to teach his kid how to dribble and pass. Lament, lament.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Studs Up, you forget that Ching made both goals possible, scoring one and setting up the other. Style points aside, you can’t ask much more from a forward than that.

  • Studs Up

    Anyone who thinks Ching deserves to play at the world’s biggest soccer stage based on his PERFORMANCE against a third rate Salvadoran team should have his head examined. Ching was the lucky receipient of the lone good cross of the game on his goal and a gifted turn over resulted in his DEFT pass to the lumbering Sacha for his. Ching’s great header 20 yards wide of the goal is more the measure of his skills.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Studs Up, I know you don’t like me. Fair enough. But I did not say that Ching “deserved to play at the world’s biggest soccer stage.” I merely said that setting up one goal and scoring another is nothing to disregard.

    Let’s be honest, Studs Up. Brian McBride’s international career is over. He ain’t coming back. The only options for a “target forward” right now are Ching and Casey. Ching has more international experience and Casey’s scoring total in MLS has benefited from two big games against weak defenses (Galaxy in April and Chivas USA in August). The only way to eliminate the issue is to play without a “target forward.”

    Here’s a quote from Landon Donovan about Ching, from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

    “When we play a hard game against a good team, I want him on the field with us. There are other players who may be more talented and flashy, but Chingy does all the little things that help your team win.”

    I would say that Landon knows more about soccer than you and I combined, SU.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    SU, here are some more comments from Michael Lewis — one of the nation’s more reputable soccer writers — about Ching’s performance:

    By Michael Lewis – TAMPA, FL (Feb 25th, 2010) USSoccerPlayers — The real winner of Wednesday night’s international friendly wasn’t the United States, which rallied for a 2-1 win over El Salvador. The true winner was striker Brian Ching, who walked out of Raymond James Stadium smelling like roses.

    Ching certainly was at his best during the precious 45 minutes he had to show his skills in the last domestic match before coach Bob Bradley makes his decision on the 23-man player roster in May. He equalized with one of his classic headers, thanks to a fabulous left-wing cross by Heath Pearce and was part of Sacha Kljestan’s winning goal two minutes into stoppage time.

    While Bradley said it was too early to say if Ching had made the team, his play has put distance between him and his rivals for a roster spot. At this point, it would be a real surprise if he isn’t a choice for South Africa.

    Finding someone to replace the injured Charlie Davies is Bradley’s biggest challenge. Davies, whose speed stretched opponents defenses during the FIFA Confederations Cup and qualifiers last year, is a long shot to play in South Africa after suffering several severe injuries as a passenger in a fatal car accident last October.
    Although Davies says he will be ready, and what a great story that will make, Bradley needs options at forward. So, there is a scramble for some other forwards to secure a position on the team.

    The four leading candidates who played vs. El Salvador included Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas) and of course, Ching (Houston Dynamo).

    Ching hasn’t been a consistent goal-scorer (11 goals in 44 international appearances), but Bradley frequently has espoused the qualities of the 31-year-old forward. Bradley did it again Wednesday night.

    “Brian has qualities on the field in terms of putting himself in good positions, holding balls, bringing guys into the game,” he said. “Hes a player that works hard for the team. I think often he makes players around him better because of the type of honest, dirty work that he does. I thought that was clearly the case in the second half. Had some chances, the goalkeeper made some great saves, but he got himself a goal, and I thought he had a good presence.”

  • Studs Up

    I’m convinced now. Our future is secured, hail to the King of Hawaii.

    Soccer brains abound in this land.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Well, SU, if you’re so smart, then why don’t you get off your biological seat cushion and take the USSF course for an “A” license?

  • Studs Up

    I’m very comfortable sitting on my ass and seeing the fools like you drool over the likes of Ching. Best comedy around, he shoots and you think it’s an accomplishment if the hits the corner flag with it. Try curling that maybe more up your alley.

    I’m out of here, you lot are useless, hapless and worst of all clueless.