Edson Buddle scores twice to lead the United States past Australia

Reserve Herculez Gomez scores a late goal in the U.S.'s 3-1 victory over Australia, the team's final tuneup before the World Cup.
Reserve Herculez Gomez scores a late goal in the U.S.'s 3-1 victory over Australia, the team's final tuneup before the World Cup. (Timothy A. Clary/agence France Presse/getty Images)
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By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 6, 2010

ROODEPOORT, SOUTH AFRICA -- The U.S. national team's final tuneup for the World Cup was played on Saturday amid a cacophony of honking vuvuzelas at Ruimsig Stadium.

The most eminent clamor, however, was provided by Edson Buddle, who, in just his third appearance, scored twice in a 3-1 victory over Australia to strengthen his bid for a starting assignment against England next weekend in the Group C opener.

Buddle, the Los Angeles Galaxy marksman who leads MLS in goals, scored from a step inside the penalty area in the fourth minute and converted a go-ahead header in the 31st for his first career U.S. goals.

Reserve Herculez Gomez, another forward with limited international experience but rounding into form at the model time, added a late goal.

"Edson continues to get more comfortable within the group," Coach Bob Bradley said. "Today you saw really the things that have highlighted his MLS season so far: taking chances well, good finishing, scoring a goal off a direct hard shot and scoring a goal with his head. Good things."

Bradley declined to discuss Buddle's outlook for starting next Saturday, but with prime target Jozy Altidore recovering from a sprained ankle and Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey becoming comfortable on the midfield flanks, Buddle might have emerged as the best option.

Asked if his performance will make it more difficult for Bradley to select his frontline starters, Buddle said: "I've given him a bit of a headache probably, but it's a good headache."

Another mounting headache is Oguchi Onyewu, the towering center back from Olney who did not play the full 90 minutes in any of the three friendlies leading to the World Cup after recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him for about seven months.

Is he ready for the sport's ultimate test and to face the likes of England superstar Wayne Rooney? "We'll see," Bradley said.

Against Australia, Onyewu entered in the 61st minute for Clarence Goodson, the Springfield native who started all three tune-ups.

"I don't think I've shown in the last two games any signs of weakness in my game," said Onyewu. "So I just have to wait till next Saturday and see what comes."

Most of the assignments seem set: Tim Howard in goal, Steve Cherundolo at right back, captain Carlos Bocanegra at left back and Jay DeMerit in the middle alongside Onyewu or Goodson. Michael Bradley is certain in central midfield with Maurice Edu or Ricardo Clark, who started Saturday.

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