Edson Buddle scord twice to stake his claim for a starting spot against England next Saturday in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ as the United States beat Australia 3-1 in Roodepoort. The Los Angeles Galaxy striker, who is leading goalscorer in Major League Soccer so far this season, fired both goals, his first at senior level for his country, in the first half of an open and entertaining game.
With first-choice frontman Jozy Altidore sitting out the game with a mild right ankle sprain, Buddle showed perfect timing in advancing his cause for a role in next weekend's Group C opener. Herculez Gomez, another back-up striker, also showed his worth by coming off the bench to score the third in the 93rd minute.
While the USA suggested they may pose a threat to England offensively, with Landon Donovan a class act when drifting in from the right flank, defensively they looked shaky, with their backline carved open on several occasions. Indeed, Bob Bradley's side needed only four minutes to open the scoring through Buddle, who took advantage of some slack defensive play before beating Mark Schwarzer with a powerful 15-yard drive.
The important thing today was getting 90 minutes in at altitude with no injuries suffered, against a good team.
The Socceroos were second best in the early stages and Robbie Findley should have doubled the USA's advantage after 15 minutes. He was sent clear of the Australia defence by Clint Dempsey's pass, but having taken the ball past Schwarzer he could only shoot wide. Against the run of play, Australia levelled matters after 19 minutes when the American defence failed to deal with a hanging corner from Richard Garcia and Tim Cahill made no mistake from close range.
Lucas Neill then had a goalbound shot blocked from a Jason Culina corner as Australia looked to take the lead, while back at the other end, Schwarzer needed to be alert to parry away an effort from Dempsey after Donovan had put him clear. But the Fulham goalkeeper was unable to prevent Buddle restoring the USA's lead after 31 minutes when the 29-year-old headed in a right-wing centre from Steven Cherundolo. Australia then looked to fight back, with Tim Howard forced to beat away a Culina drive from the edge of the area.
There was certainly a competitive edge to the game, and Dempsey and Australia's Craig Moore were both yellow-carded after squaring up to each other in the middle of the pitch, while Vince Grella was also cautioned. Dempsey had the ball in the net early in the second half but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Australia dominated the second period with veteran keeper Marcus Hahnemann, who replaced Howard at half-time, doing well to twice block close-range efforts from Mark Bresciano before turning aside another fierce drive from substitute Nikita Rukavytsya. Herculez Gomez made it 3-1 to the USA in stoppage time when he tucked away Donovan's low cross.
Speaking after the match, Donovan said: "We're fairly happy with how things went today. We could have been a little better with some of our chances, but all in all the important thing today was getting 90 minutes in at altitude with no injuries suffered, against a good team."