The USA shakes off rust to overcome El Salvador

sacha kljestan.jpg
Sacha Kljestan scored the match winner in extra time
For the first 45 minutes the US laboured mightily to string a few passes together underscoring the domestic second and third stringers lack of match practice.
The second half was an improvement when Brian Ching came onto the pitch in place of Conor Casey. Most of the activity emanated from the left flank where I thought Robbie Rogers and Heath Pearce combined well with pace and understanding. Rogers had some decent looks at goal and was distinctly unlucky when his shot cannoned off the upright.
It was through Pearce’s cross that Ching was able to flick the ball past Miguel Montes for the equalizer. The El Salvador goalkeeper was till then having the time of his life stopping anything and everything that came his way. The winner came in injury time when Sacha Kljestan stole the ball away from a lackadaisical El Salvador defender and in a neat one two with Ching, slotted the ball past Montes. There were about another half a dozen clear chances to score but Montes came up big and the US finishing left much to be desired.
Ching was a distinct improvement from both Casey and Robbie Findley with his aerial ability and ball retrieving skills. Findley was especially disappointing having an awkward time getting involved at all. He also seemed to have a tough time staying on his feet. Casey was no better demonstrating a very heavy touch.
Before that though the US had to play an El Salvador team that looked quite sharp when they got the ball. On one of their forays, Manuel Salazar booted the ball upfield which found a racing Brad Evans trying to head the ball back to Nick Rimando only to put it right across the path of Rudis Corrales who finished of the easy chance.
I think one should be reasonably pleased with the performance of Brian Ching, Heath Pearce, Sacha Kljestan, and Robbie Rogers. They did no damage to their World Cup claims. On the other hand even accounting for the rust, the performance gap between the US foreign exports and its domestic players remains immense.

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