U.S. Falls to Czech Republic 4-2 in Opening Send Off Series Match
• U.S. Head Coach Bob Bradley Rests Numerous Regulars, But Oguchi Onyewu Plays First Match Since Major Injury Last October
• Maurice Edu and Herculez Gomez Score First International Goals, Both Starting Off Set Play Services from Stuart Holden
• U.S. Finishes Send-Off Series Against Turkey on May 29 in Philadelphia live on ESPN2 and Galavision at 2 p.m. ET
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (May 25, 2010) – In a match that served as a final audition for some U.S. players and a World Cup tune-up for others, the U.S. Men’s National Team fell 4-2 to the Czech Republic in front of 36,218 fans, the largest-ever crowd to watch a soccer match at Rentschler Field.
Both U.S. goals came from players who had never before tallied at the full international level with midfielder Maurice Edu putting the USA ahead in the 17th minute while second-half substitute forward Herculez Gomez knotted the score at 2-2 in the 65th. The U.S. allowed two goals in the final 13 minutes plus stoppage time as Martin Fenin tallied in the 78th and Tomas Necid ended any chance of a late U.S. equalizer with a goal in the 92nd.
U.S. head coach Bob Bradley will announce the 23-man U.S. World Cup roster tomorrow, May 26, live on ESPN during SportsCenter’s 1 p.m. ET hour and then the U.S. team will head to Philadelphia, where the team will play its second and final Send-Off Series match against Turkey at Lincoln Financial Field. More than 45,000 tickets have been sold for the match that will kick off at 2 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Galavision. Fans can follow via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and twitter.com/ussoccer.
“We've worked very hard and guys know we're at a point where tough decisions need to be made,” said Bradley. “There's still a respect we have for what they've put into the camp and into the game. As a player, to come into a camp with the opportunity to make a team and go to the World Cup is a special thing. As it gets closer and closer those emotions come out. On a night when the result doesn't go our way, we know there are things we will still work hard at and we pay tribute to the guys who have been in this camp, the work they've put in and the way they've gone about it.”
Bradley chose to rest numerous regulars for tonight’s game as captain Carlos Bocanegra, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jay DeMerit, Jozy Altidore, Benny Feilhaber and Tim Howard did not dress.
The match marked the return to game action for Onyewu who played his first match since tearing the patellar tendon in his left knee on Oct. 14, 2009, at RFK Stadium in the USA’s final CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. Onyewu played 65 minutes before being replaced by Alejandro Bedoya, who came in at right midfield, moving Stuart Holden into the middle and Edu to center back.
The other players that did start and those that came off the bench got the chance to make a final impression before the selection of the roster tomorrow. Those players included Gomez, who brought his torrid scoring streak from the end of the Mexican season to the international stage. The goal originated from a Holden corner kick that he spun in from the left corner. Six-foot-four Clarence Goodson rose high to meet the cross, looping it back to the far post where an unmarked Gomez darted in to power home a header from close range.
The USA had opened the scoring 17 minutes into the match, also on a service from Holden, who bent a dangerous free kick from almost flush on the left sideline all the way to the far post. Edson Buddle, the leading scorer in Major League Soccer this season for the Los Angeles Galaxy, jumped high to nod the ball down as Czech and Chelsea goalkeeper Pert Cech missed his punch attempt and flew past the pack of players. Edu was first to the loose ball and pounded it into the net from close range.
Buddle took a knock to face as he won Holden’s cross and was off the field for almost seven minutes while the U.S. training staff stopped the bleeding and got him changed out of a blood-soaked jersey. Buddle suffered a split lip that required two stitches at halftime.
The Czechs tied the game just a minute before the break on a free kick of their own. Jaroslav Plasil spun the ball from the right side to the far post where it just skimmed just over the head of Onyewu as Tomas Sivok used the big defender’s shoulder to get some extra elevation. He sent a looping header back cross the face of the goal and just inside the base of the right post past scrambling U.S. ‘keeper Brad Guzan.
Bradley made five substitutes at halftime, sending on Sacha Kljestan for Jose Torres, Heath Pearce for Jonathan Bornstein and Robbie Rogers for DaMarcus Beasley. He also changed out both strikers as Brian Ching came in for Eddie Johnson and Gomez replaced Buddle.
The Czechs had taken a 2-1 lead in the 58th minute after David Lafata dribbled down the left wing, cut the ball back and then sent a low cross behind the U.S. defense across the six-yard line. Jan Polak scooted in front of Pearce and re-directed the ball into the lower right corner from seven yards out.
Gomez’ equalizer in the 65th minute was foreshadowed by several quality U.S. attacks. Rogers tested Cech in the 61st with a long distance blast that forced the big ‘keeper to fully extend to his left to snag the ball. In the 64th minute, a nifty back-heel from Ching put Gomez in great position to shoot from the top of the penalty area, but his low, hard drive was smothered by Cech.
The Czech Republic scored the game-winner in the 78th minute as Libor Sionko slashed from the right wing into the U.S. penalty area on a nice dribble run. He cut back a pass back into the middle of the box that bounced around for a moment before a Czech player got a foot on, but the strike was blocked directly off his foot by a U.S. defender. Unfortunately, the ball bounced right to Fenin who cracked his shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards out, giving Guzan no chance.
The Czechs added a goal in stoppage time after Edu misjudged a long ball and Necid ran through on goal after the ball had hit him on the back and bounced forward. The Czech striker drove towards the net and slid his shot past Guzan and into the near post for the final margin.
Bradley also gave starts to Johnson, the veteran Beasley and Torres as well as veteran defender Steve Cherundolo, who captained the side.
The match did not feature many major scoring chances for either team as both countries put just four shots on goal, but the Czechs scored on all four.
U.S. Men's National Team Match Report
Match: United States vs. Czech Republic
Date: May 25, 2010
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Rentschler Field; East Hartford, Conn.
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Weather: Warm, clear – 76 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
CZE 1 3 4
USA – Maurice Edu (Edson Buddle) 17th minute
CZE – Tomas Sivok (Jaroslav Plasil) 44
CZE – Jan Polak (David Lafata) 58
USA – Herculez Gomez (Clarence Goodson) 65
CZE -- Martin Fenin 78
CZE – Tomas Necid 90+2
USA: 18-Brad Guzan; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 5-Oguchi Onyewu (28-Alejandro Bedoya, 65), 21-Clarence Goodson, 12-Jonathan Bornstein (20-Heath Pearce, 46); 22-Stuart Holden, 26-José Torres (14-Sacha Kljestan, 46), 19-Maurice Edu, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (25-Robbie Rogers, 46); 9-Eddie Johnson (11-Brian Ching, 46), 29-Edson Buddle (30-Herculez Gomez, 46)
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 13-Ricardo Clark, 23-Marcus Hahnemann, 24-Chad Marshall, 27-Robbie Findley
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
CZE: 1-Petr Cech; 2-Ondrej Kusnir, 5-Jan Rajnoch, 6- Tomas Sivok, 7-Libor Sionko (19-Jan Moravek, 85), 8-Jan Polak (12-Mario Holek, 90), 11-Daniel Pudil, 13-Jaroslav Plasil (18-David Limbersky, 91), 17-Tomas Hübschman, 15-Martin Fenin (4-Milan Cerny, 78), 20-David Lafata (9-Tomas Necid, 67)
Subs not used: 10-Tomas Pekhart, 14-Rudolf Skacel, 16-Michal Danek, 21-Jaroslav Cerny, 23-Jan Lastuvka
Head Coach: Michal Bilek
Stats Summary: USA / CZE
Shots: 6 / 11
Shots on Goal: 4 / 4
Saves: 0 / 2
Corner Kicks: 5 / 3
Fouls: 23 / 18
Offside: 4 / 4
CZE – Jan Rajnoch (caution) 34th minute
Referee: Mauricio Morales (Mexico)
Assistant Referee 1: Alejandro Ayala (Mexico)
Assistant Referee 2: Victor Calderon (Mexico)
Fourth Official: Mark Geiger (USA)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Stuart Holden