February 24, 2010
THE LATE SHOW
Kljestan's late goal lifts U.S. over Salvador
TAMPA, Fla. -- The United States threw everything but the kitchen sink at El Salvador in Wednesday night’s international friendly, and the hard work paid off with a 2-1 victory at Raymond James Stadium.
|Sacha Kljestan lifted the U.S. over El Salvador in stoppage time.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan's goal two minutes into stoppage time broke a 1-1 deadlock and sent the U.S. home with a win before 21,737 rain-soak spectators. Brian Ching brought the Americans back from a 1-0 deficit in the 75th minute.
Kljestan stripped defender Marvin Gonzalez of the ball, did a quick give-and-go with Brian Ching, then rifled home the game-winner past goalkeeper Miguel Montes.
The Americans played with a purpose and urgency as most of the match was played in the El Salvadoran end of the field.
In the long run, the final score really didn't matter that much. Instead, the game gave U.S. coach Bob Bradley a chance to look at the domestic-based players who were on the bubble to earn a spot with the World Cup squad in the final home game prior to picking the 23-man roster.
The biggest battle was for a forward position next to Jozy Altidore. No one stood head and shoulders over anyone else.
Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids) acquitted himself well during his first-half stint, although starter Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake) had an average match. Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas), who starred at the University of South Florida here, took over for Findley in the 68th minute but had little impact.
El Salvador forward Rudis Corrales took advantage of a botched header by U.S. defender Brad Evans in the 59th minute. The ball went right to Corrales, who handily beat goalkeeper Nick Rimando. It was El Salvador's first shot since the fourth minute.
But Ching (Houston Dynamo) continued to solidify a spot on the team with a classic header from six yards. Heath Pearce sent a long, line drive cross in from the left flank that Ching headed home past goalkeeper Miguel Montes to the near post.
Kljestan, once considered a prime candidate to go to South Africa, had the best two scoring opportunities for the Americans in the first half. But Montes saved both of his attempts (31st and 40th minutes).
Midfielder Eddie Gaven had a superb chance to give the Americans the lead in the 89th minute, racing in alone on goal. But his 12-yard shot went wide left.
Before Bradley names his roster in May, he will have one more opportunity to watch the Americans, when they take on the Netherlands in Amsterdam Wednesday.