Edson Buddle made the most of a start against Australia by scoring his first two international goals in the USA's final World Cup tuneup match in Roodepoort, South Africa on Saturday. Second-half sub Herculez Gomez also scored in stoppage time as Bob Bradley's squad registered a 3-1 win over their fellow World Cup participants.
The Galaxy forward struck twice in the first half as he took Jozy Altidore's place in the lineup. A right ankle sprain suffered in midweek sidelined Altidore and it was Buddle who kicked off the match alongside Real Salt Lake striker Robbie Findley.
Watch Edson's interview on US Soccer's Studio 90
The US took a 1-0 lead on the Socceroos after Buddle stripped Aussie midfielder Vincenzo Grella 30 yards from goal just four minutes into the match. The New York native advanced to the top of the box before rifling home a shot which easily beat Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer inside the right post.
Findley nearly doubled the US lead in the 15th minute after beating the Australian offside trap on a through ball from Clint Dempsey. The RSL speedster flew into the box and rounded Schwarzer before firing wide right with the goal at his mercy.
Australia's Tim Cahill momentarily equalized on a dead ball situation in the 19th minute. A corner kick from the right side found Cahill at the back post. The forward beat his Everton teammate Tim Howard with a sliding shot which found its way past defender Steve Cherundolo, who was guarding the back post for the US.
However, Buddle re-established the US lead in the 31st minute when he got on the end of a Cherundolo cross to head home from close range at the far post between two Aussie defenders.
The Australians did generate their fair share of opportunities in the first half with a long distance shot by Luke Wilkshire (30th min), a Josh Kennedy header from close range that finished wide right (34th min) and a Jason Culina shot that was parried away by Howard (35th min).
The Socceroos looked the better side in the second half as they chased for the equalizer. US goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who came on at the break for Howard, made key saves on close range shots from Mark Bresciano (59th min) and Scott Chipperfield (63rd min), while also parrying a Nikita Rukavytsya drive (75th min).
The best second-half sequence from the USA came in the 52nd minute as the Americans peppered Schwarzer's net but were unable to score. Landon Donovan sent a through ball to Buddle into the left side of the box. MLS' top scorer crossed the ball to Findley, who struck the crossbar. After a failed clearance by the Aussies, Michael Bradley fired a shot which Schwarzer blocked. Dempsey pounced on the rebound and seemingly scored on a diving header which was called back after the referee whistled Findley for offside.
After coming off the bench to score his first international goal against the Czech Republic last week, Gomez proved again he can fill the role of super-sub with a goal in second-half stoppage time. Donovan delivered the cross from the right and Gomez calmly slotted home for the final 3-1 score.
For the second consecutive match, Oguchi Onyewu was not selected to start in central defense but came on with a half-hour remaining. Clarence Goodson was once again preferred over Onyewu, who is still working his way to full fitness from a knee injury suffered last October. Australian star Harry Kewell did not see action in the match, as he recovers from a groin injury.
The USA will conduct a light training session on Sunday and the team will have an off day on Monday. The squad will then get together again on Tuesday to begin preparing in earnest for next Saturday's World Cup Group C opener against England.
Scoring: USA - Buddle 4' & 31'; AUS - Cahill 19'; USA - Gomez 93'+
USA: Tim Howard (46' Marcus Hahnemann) - Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson (61' Oguchi Onyewu), Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra (c) (55' Jonathan Bornstein) - Landon Donovan, Ricardo Clark, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey (82' Herculez Gomez) - Edson Buddle (79' DaMarcus Beasley), Robbie Findley
AUSTRALIA: Mark Schwarzer - Luke Wilkshire, Lucas Neill (c), Craig Moore, Scott Chipperfield - Richard Garcia (71' Nikita Rukavytsya), Vincenzo Grella, Jason Culina (61' Dario Vidosic), Mark Bresciano - Tim Cahill (46' Carl Valeri), Josh Kennedy