Americans dominate World Cup tuneup


ROODEPOORT, South Africa -- The dress rehearsal could not have gone much better for the United States.

In a small stadium near an open field in a suburb west of Johannesburg, the Americans beat Australia for the first time, a 3-1 victory Saturday on a sun-splashed autumn afternoon that filled the U.S. players with confidence.

Next up is the game the Americans have been waiting six months for, their high-profile World Cup opener against England on Saturday.

"We don't fear them," forward Landon Donovan said. "We feel they're a team we can compete with."

Edson Buddle, not even in the national team picture a few months ago, scored in the fourth and 31st minutes for his first two international goals. Herculez Gomez, another player not expected to make the World Cup roster, entered in the 82nd minute and scored against the Socceroos in second-half injury time, the Las Vegas High School product's second national team goal in 12 days.

"It seems like everything Edson touches is a goal," goalkeeper Tim Howard said.

Tim Cahill scored for Australia in the 19th minute when he beat Howard, his Everton teammate, for his 20th goal in 40 international appearances.

"We're definitely moving in the right direction," said Steve Cherundolo, who took over from Jonathan Spector at right back. "We still have a few things to work out."

In the two previous warm-ups since gathering in mid-May, the U.S. lost to the Czech Republic 4-2 using mostly second-stringers, then rallied for a 2-1 win over Turkey on May 29.

This was the team's first game since arriving in South Africa on Monday and the first time it used the much-criticized Adidas Jabulani ball.

"I think the majority of the problems today were due to the flight of the ball," Donovan said. "I think a lot of times the ball doesn't fly true, and it puts your defenders under a lot of pressure. So we're going to have to do some work this week just judging the ball better."

In the next six days, U.S. coach Bob Bradley will watch injured forward Jozy Altidore, who didn't play after spraining his right ankle during training Wednesday. In Altidore's absence, Bradley started Buddle, Major League Soccer's scoring leader, as his target forward and paired him with speedy Robbie Findley.

The U.S. hadn't scored in two previous matches against Australia, losing 1-0 in 1992 and tying 0-0 six years later.

 

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