It was a performance unlikely to show up on any clinic videos any time soon, but the United States notched a 2-1 win over El Salvador in a friendly Wednesday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan snapped a 1-1 tie with an injury time goal after a nice give-and-go with Brian Ching.
What’s more interesting than the scoreline is having a look at who helped their chances the most in the continuing effort to make the 2010 World Cup roster.
Here are Wednesday’s winners in that regard:
Brian Ching – I thought he’d be on the plane anyway, but after scoring one goal and helping to set up another, I don’t see how Bradley can leave him off the roster? His competition – Conor Casey, Jeff Cunningham and Robbie Findley – did little to impress in the match, so I’m ready to declare him on the roster.
Of course, it’s not really up to me…
Sacha Kljestan – Scoring the game winner is enough to get him on this list, though in fairness, it must be pointed out that he missed on a few chances during the night.
But coming through when it matters most – injury time in a tie game – is a trait you’d like to have from a guy off the bench in a World Cup game.
Heath Pearce – Perhaps no player has risen higher and fallen farther than Pearce in the last year or so, but he looked dangerous going forward and solid in defense from his left back slot. I don’t know if he can muscle his way on to the roster, but he certainly didn’t hurt himself.
Post-match quotes (from the U.S. Soccer Web site)
“It’s important to say that decisions for Holland involve many different factors. In some cases we might have an idea that we want to see another guy play, so not bring in a player isn’t necessarily a statement that he has for some reason dropped down a little bit, just that we have two opportunities, this week and the next game to see some guys and we also recognize that we’ve had a number of these players away from their club teams a good amount in January, in the case of a guy like Clarence Goodson, because his team in Norway had actually started doing stuff. MLS guys, it’s just been this last stretch but we factor all those things in.”
“If you take injuries out and you hope that certain guys can rehab well, I think that there’s probably a strong nucleus of guys that we’ve seen throughout qualifying that hopefully are going to be there. Again, whether that group is 15, 16, 17 or 18 depends on the discussion at any point. Some days it’s high, some days it’s low and then we just need to continue to watch games and check out rehab and see how it goes.”
“I feel like in the January and February camps I tried my hardest just to get back in the team. And prove to myself, prove to the teammates and prove to the coaching staff that I want to be here and deserve to be here and can be a positive for the team. I think the game against Honduras wasn’t my best but I think tonight I played a little bit better and I hope to continue to get a chance to move on and be a part of the team.”
“It’s a young team so to come back from behind is good for us. It’s a good learning experience and for a lot of guys, you could see their confidence build as the game went on. There were more and more chances we were getting at the end and everybody believed we could get the win. We went out there and we did it and I think it was a great game for a lot of guys to learn. Sometimes you’re going to be in a tough situation and I think we reacted well to it.”