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United States rallies late to defeat El Salvador, 2-1

Sacha Kljestan 1 (Getty Images) 


The United States national team dominated El Salvador in its friendly match at Raymond James Stadium on Wednesday night, but it needed late goals from Brian Ching and Sacha Kljestan to walk away with a 2-1 victory.

After a scoreless first half, El Salvador jumped out in front at the hour mark, when U.S. right back Brad Evans headed the ball into the path of forward Rudis Corrales, who rolled a shot past a helpless Nick Rimando.

The U.S. responded 16 minutes later on a goal from Ching, who came on at halftime for Conor Casey. Left back Heath Pearce made a run down the flank, and unleashed a beauty of a cross that Ching headed home powerfully to pull the score level.

"That's what I do, I get on the end of crosses and try to make good runs in the box," said Ching of his eleventh career goal for the U.S. "I knew (Pearce) was going to get the ball across so I just tried to put myself in a good position."

The goal made up for numerous missed opportunities by the American attack, which was suffering from a combination of woeful finishing and great saves by El Salvador goalkeeper Miguel Montes.

"We had a a lot of chances and their goalie made some big saves," said Pearce. "Had those chances gone our way the game could have maybe opened up a bit more for us."

Ching's header opened up the game in favor of the U.S., as El Salvador found itself reeling following the equalizer. Los Cuscatlecos continuously gave up possession cheaply and allowed the Americans decent looks on goal, which contributed to the 18-3 shot difference in favor of the U.S. 

It was just three minutes after the goal that midfielder Robbie Rogers could have put the U.S. in front, but Rogers elected to shoot instead of pass from close range, and the shot went well wide.

The Americans had another pair of clear opportunities in the following moments, but failed to capitalize on them as well. Forward Jeff Cunningham setup Ching with a lofted cross in the 80th minute, but Montes made one of his seven saves on the play, and nine minutes later midfielder Eddie Gaven failed to score from close-range after being released one-on-one by a pass from Ching.

Just when the game looked to be headed for a 1-1 result, Kljestan stripped the ball away from Salvadoran defender Marvin Gonzalez, and played a give-and-go with Ching before finishing from close range with his left foot in the 92nd minute. 

"They were playing around with the ball in the back a lot tonight," said Kljestan. "The guy had his head down and he wouldn't see me coming from his blindside, and I just picked his pocket and Ching played a good ball back."  

The 2-1 result mirrors the United States' last game against El Salvador, when goals from Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore helped the U.S. to a comeback victory in a home World Cup qualifier in Salt Lake City in September 2009.

The United States will now turn its focus towards its March 3 friendly against the Netherlands in Amsterdam.


What do you think of the result? Who were you impressed by? Do you see Kljestan and Ching getting called up for the Netherlands friendly?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. RE: “Know soccer before…” There’s really no need for lame personal attacks, but for the sake of argument I’ll indulge you.

    Someone who “knows soccer” would have realized that, when given the time to think, you play the percentages. If RR had had defenders bearing down on him, or a GK lunging for the ball, I could understand him reacting and taking the shot. However, this is not what happened. He had heaps of time on the ball and the full attention of the keeper. He had the time and awareness to get his head up and see two teammates bearing down on goal with one defender in the mix. In that situation, you ALWAYS play the higher percentage, which is the layoff. It was pure selfishness that motivated him to take that shot, and not tactical sense as you seem to believe.

    Furthermore, your analogy is so flawed it constitutes a straw man. Being on the ball, for a wing player, is no more telling of his quality than a running back having the most carries on the team. That is his job. To make himself available, stretch the defense, and distribute the ball. If he isn’t doing even one of those things, he is not being effective in his role. What RR did on the ball does not begin to approach 250 yds and 4 TDs comparatively speaking. Rogers performance was more like 3.4 YPC and 1 TD while fumbling twice inside the 20. That is to say, he performed part of his job well, but blew it in several other aspects.

  2. What? Ronaldinho can play for the USA!
    Adu finally found a team poor enough that he could get some playing time, good for him, but playing for a mid-table Greek team is not that much of an endorsement. Try again when Adu impresses any big club to buy him and actually play him.
    At least Sasha was smart enough to stay in MLS where he would actually play rather than take chances in lower level european leagues, not that he had much choice. Neither one is a Ronaldino. Are you trying to say the US will not do as well as Brazil in SA? Thanks for the hot tip!

  3. Woops, forgot Torres at midfield as well, he might be another one to compare, So maybe Edu Torres in one half and Bradley and Sasha in the second, but that is clearly an experiment, not a set of choices designed to win.

  4. He’s had seven caps in six years, three of which came in Copa America ’07. He’ll be 28 in 2014.

    He showed a couple flashes last night, why WOULDN’T you want to see more?

  5. Bradley has looked at and called up more players than any other US coach (and probably more than any national team coach) in the runup to SA. two almost completely different teams for the Confed Cup and Gold Cup. Rally, who would you suggest that is playing in MLS and is better than Sasha, Beckerman, Gaven, Davis, Rogers were all on the roster. It is hard to argue that any of them had a much better game than Sasha (who still needs a better first touch which is the cause of most of his turnovers). At Forward, he called in the leading US scores in MLS.
    I just don’t see what other players you might have in mind who are better.
    Except for Bornstein or Pearce and one of the forwards, none of these guys will start in SA (well maybe Goodson if Onweyo/ Demerit/Bocanegra can’t go).
    Clark, Dempsey, and Feilhaber are all injured so they will not be in Holland, Maybe Edu will get a look in Holland. It might be entertaining and enlightening to see him paired with Bradley in one half and Sasha with Bradley in the second half.

  6. Yeah, I agree; Kljestan is one of our most creative players… that’s what Bob see’s in him. Of course he is guilty of some bad give aways, needs to improve there, but people seem to miss his more creative passes, runs and combinations. It’s not an accident he was involved in most of the attacks in the first half.

    Great game from Gaven, but I just can’t believe the way people are putting him on a pedestal after one performance. He was a fresh sub on a very open field. I’ve seen Eddie play a lot over the years and he needs to do that a lot more consistently before I’d call him up for a big game; hell I’d like to see him play that well for the Crew once and while.

    Knowing their history with the MNT and seeing them play week in and week out in MLS, I’d take Kljestan any day of the week over Gaven…Kljestan is a creative force for Chivas, Gaven more of a hard working workman like player.

    I know Kljestan has had some bad games, but Bob see’s his upside… the US is not exactly deep in creative attacking players…

  7. Overall, not surprisingly, none of the forwards gave me a lot of comfort heading to SA. Still the USA’s weakest position, even the shoe-in Altidore is at best an average Premier level striker. At least Altidore and Findley are young so you might expect their games to improve, but I do not think Findley is ready for that stage yet. So who goes to Holland, I guess Ching, Casey and maybe Cunningham. Bradley has to keep looking to see if he can figure out which might be the most useful in SA.

    Midfield, Rogers fell Davis played well and his steadiness helped Pearce look good. I like kyle B’s hard work, but he probably will not make it to SA. Sasha K. had some good plays, but his first touch still lets him down in critical situations. I suspect Sasha and Davis (if he is not injured) head to Holland. Gaven looked good, like Bornstien if he would get stronger it would make me like his chances more.

    In back Goodson and Bornstein were not really tested (or simply played smart enough to defuse the attack well enough to look good, which is a great sign). Pearce was good, Evans was not so hot, even forgiving his misplayed header he had too many moments that felt dicey. Pearce, Goodson and Bornstein head to Holland, unless Bradley wants to look at some other back who is not in the usual mix.

    No time to make up my suspected team for Holland or the starting 11, but it will include a player I want to see in a pressure situation rather than those who I think are most likely to get a result.

  8. Yeah, I almost threw the remote through the TV when I saw Gaven was substituted for Davis… but Bob new what he was doing… Gaven showed a lot of potential. Still think Davis looked good, and I’m not sure why he was taken off, but hat’s off to Gaven..

  9. Although overall I do want to remind everyone that the team the US was playing against was a half inspired Concacaf team, that the US due to terrible finishing still barely managed to beat.

  10. What he showed was inconsistency and poor passing ability. Anyone can put a shot on target…(excetp for ROgers) but its the over-all quality of his play that is suspect. Heart, passion determination is only the foundation of what makes a player effective and no one is questioning those attributes. That foundation needs to translate into quality on the pitch and well…after last night’s game he is still suspect. Take into consideration who they played last night.

  11. If Bradley is going to pick one of the two (Ching or Conor). I have said I prefer Ching which I think was made clear in last nights game why. Other performances I was happy with was Pearce, and Goodson.

    I still am not a fan of Klejstans, he makes way too many bad passes, but he seems to be Bradley’s boy so he will probably end up on the team.

  12. -That’s a great analogy…for football. But not for this game. You see…even if you possess the ball for 45 min…what does that get you?

    You need to move the ball as a winger…and the only job you have is to give service. Your job is to not dribble your way out of 2 defenders and take the game winning shot yourself…especially if you have 2 other players open in the box. Completely selfish on his part. Watch the replay and you can see ching visibly upset as well as 6 other players on the pitch.

    And yes…that shot was the worst option you could have taken. The shot was not even on goal. It would have been smarter just to pull back and reset the attack then to beat the keeper at near post. The guy looked Slow and indecisive the whole match.

  13. Disclaimer: I only saw the second half

    I think Rogers has a lot of potential. Sure he should have passed instead of shot, but that shot about 5 to 10 minutes later off the woodwork was really close. From what I saw he possesses the ball well and has good passing vision. After that big miss-hit he really seemed to get lost, losing the ball easily and making poor passing decisions. I think mentally that shook him and I bet he knew right away he should’ve passed. Hey people make mistakes. A good coach will look at overall performance.

    Summary: Rogers has potential, but needs more time to refine his skills and up his match fitness.

  14. No, I did not think to ask him that. In my opinion I don’t know if it is or not to late for Williams to make the World Cup team. In the press conference he did say that they do have to make some decisions tonight about who to bring to Holland. So I don’t know if he is looking in to bring in Williams. I think Bornstein did okay at defense. On the El Salvador game he should have closed down the middle better then what he did. Also, Conner Casey gave me an look like he wanted to rip my hair outta my head, lol.

  15. I can totally be on board with SK in 2014. I’d really like to see him get some time in a league at a higher level as it feels like he’s regressing a bit and not progressing as a player.

  16. -Im gonna call BS on that one…If you are referring to sasha being better in every regard as being inconsistent, Making untimely runs, disapearing in matches for long stretches as well as missing point blank shots then yeah..he is better than bedoya.

    If you have seen bedoya play then you are a lucky man as his games can rarely be found even on feeds found on websites.

    We know what sasha can do…rather what he cant, but Bedoya is still untested at the Nat. Team level.

  17. Meaning what? That he was planning on playing Findley the whole match so no forwards were warming up by the 55th minute? That he expected Findley to sub himself off? You see this all the time, players who have clearly lost effectiveness but are reluctant to ask to come out for fear of “sending the wrong message” about commitment and toughness. It’s absurd. I can understand in a real game with limited substitutions how you might want to see if a player can keep going, but it makes no sense in a friendly with liberal substituting. And yes, I am criticizing the coaching during a friendly because he displays the same poor player management and ability to adjust tactically during the course of real matches too.

  18. Klejstan was horrible. He should not be getting these many chances on the USMNT until he proves himself in the club level. He played horrible against a horrible team. El Salvador is no Mexico (let’s not even imagine him playing against euro teams).

    That goes to all players. BB needs to stop giving chances to the same players all the time.

    BB needs to stop playing favorites. It’s really getting tiring.

  19. Here’s what I saw last night:

    Players playing with confidence: Ching, Pearce, Kljestan

    Players playing conservative: Bornstein, Goodson, Evans, Casey

    Players playing desperatly: Rogers, Beckerman, Findley, Cunningham

    Ching, Pearce, Kljestan, Bornstein, Goodson…..Pack your bags!

  20. Watch Spector’s games with West Ham when he was going against Aaron Lennon and get back to me about World Cup quality LBs.

    Spector is a good international RB and I believe he would be a average international LB because you are taking away his right foot.

  21. I’ve said it for awhile as well. When everyone is in form, Pearce is the best all-around LB for the USMNT – the problem is he often is out of form.

    We might be catching Pearce in a good run right now and might be able to take advantage.

    I’m not down on Bornstein like others are, it seems no matter what this kid does, there will always be a large segment of US fans who will criticize him. But if Pearce is in good form, I would start him.


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