U.S. soccer loses to Czech Republic, 4-2, in World Cup tuneup

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

EAST HARTFORD, CONN. -- Bob Bradley will announce his World Cup roster Wednesday, but after witnessing the U.S. national soccer team's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic on Tuesday evening, the coach might wish that he had a few more defensive options.

True, two of his probable back-line starters against England on June 12 in Rustenburg, South Africa, were not in uniform and a third remained on the bench. But the corps yielded a disturbing number of scoring opportunities, breaking down on each Czech goal, including Martin Fenin's late go-ahead strike, in front of 36,218 at Rentschler Field.

Left back Heath Pearce's stock dropped precipitously with a dodgy performance in the second half and 6-foot-4 central defenders Oguchi Onyewu and Clarence Goodson, both of whom are certain to make the cut, had mixed results.

In his first appearance since rupturing a knee tendon in October, Onyewu, an Olney native, played 65 minutes and warranted decent reviews until getting beat to a header that resulted in the Czech Republic's first goal just before halftime. Goodson (Springfield) showed well and assisted on the Americans' second goal but failed to clear a cross that led to Fenin's strike in the 78th minute.

"Guys know that now we are at a point where some tough decisions need to be made," said Bradley, who will trim seven players from the 30-man roster and introduce the squad at 1 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN. "I have so many things flying through my head right now.

"Tonight was about looking at guys. We felt going into this game we still needed to size up some different possibilities and options."

Eight players -- all certain to make the final cut -- were not in uniform: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jay DeMerit, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley and Benny Feilhaber.

While Pearce and center back Chad Marshall, who remained on the bench, are probably on the way out, Bradley will also have to narrow his choices in the midfield and front line. Among the borderline forwards, Edson Buddle helped set up midfielder Maurice Edu's goal in the 17th minute and Herculez Gomez scored in the second half.

Eddie Johnson didn't do much in 45 minutes, Brian Ching had a few bright moments and Robbie Findley never entered, though he remains in contention because of his speed.

Midfielders Sacha Kljestan and Robbie Rogers were largely anonymous. Alejandro Bedoya wasn't bad but probably didn't do enough to topple DaMarcus Beasley, a two-time World Cup veteran who exhibited pace and cunning on the left flank.

"I'm just trying to make it hard for Bob," Beasley said. "Hopefully, I made a case."

The Americans went ahead when Stuart Holden drove in a free kick. Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech was late coming off his line and failed to reach the ball. Buddle made contact, apparently with his shoulder, nudging it ahead to Edu (University of Maryland) for a simple finish from three yards to earn his first international goal.

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