Edson Buddle staked his claim for a starting spot against England next Saturday with two goals for the United States in their victory over Australia. The Los Angeles Galaxy striker, who is the leading scorer in Major League Soccer this season, struck twice in the first half of an open and entertaining final tune-up before the World Cup.
They were 29-year-old Buddle's first goals at senior level for his country after a promising early career was severely affected by injury setbacks. With first-choice frontman Jozy Altidore sitting it out with a mild right ankle sprain, Buddle showed perfect timing in advancing his cause for a role in next weekend's Group C opener and Herculez Gomez, another back-up striker, showed his worth by coming off the bench to score the third in the 90th minute
The USA suggested they may pose a threat to England with Landon Donovan, who had a loan spell at Everton last season, a class act when drifting in from the right flank. But, in contrast, their defence continuallylooked shaky and was carved open on several occasions. On this evidence, England will prove difficult for them to deal with.
USA needed only four minutes to open the scoring through Buddle. He took advantage of slack defensive play before beating Mark Schwarzer with a powerful 15-yard drive. Robbie Findley should have doubled the USA's advantage after 15 minutes. He was put clear by Clint Dempsey's pass, took the ball past Schwarzer but shot wide of an open goal.
Australia equalised against the run of play after 19 minutes when off a hanging corner from Richard Garcia, Everton's Cahill struck from close range. Australia's Lucas Neill had a goalbound shot blocked and at the other end, Schwarzer parried an effort from his Fulham team-mate Dempsey. But the goalkeeper was unable to prevent the USA restoring their lead after 31 minutes when Buddle headed in Steve Cherundolo's cross.
There was certainly a competitive edge to the game. Dempsey and Australia's Craig Moore were booked after squaring up to each other and the Fulham man had the ball in the net early in the second half but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Australia dominated the second half but Gomez made the game safe for the USA in stoppage time when he tucked away Donovan's low cross.
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