World Cup-bound United States beat El Salvador
Tampa: The United States, lacking its Europe-based best, rallied to beat El Salvador 2-1 in a friendly soccer match with goals from Brian Ching and Sacha Kljestan.
Ching scored with a diving header in the 74th minute and Kljestan put away the go-ahead goal in 90th-minute injury time to lift the World Cup-bound Americans to the victory.
Ching, a second half substitute, scored the equalizer from seven yards out after a cross from Heath Pearce that Salvadoran goalkeeper Miguel Montes misplayed.
Rudy Corrales` 59th-minute strike had put El Salvador ahead, after a scoreless first half in chilly, rainy conditions at Raymond James stadium.
"I thought there were a lot of positives," US coach Bob Bradley said. "Some good efforts. Some positive things on the field."
Ching, Kljestan and Pearce were among just a handful of players in the US squad who appear to have a real chance of being selected for the US squad for the World Cup finals in South Africa in June.
Ching was in the 2006 World Cup squad, but didn`t get into a match.
All but one of the Americans on the pitch Wednesday plays in Major League Soccer, with the European-based starters absent as they were for a 3-1 loss to Honduras on January 23.
Ching voiced concern that a possible MLS labor dispute could hinder the chances of making the World Cup squad for players who play their club football in the US league.
"If we`re not playing games week-in and week-out, that puts us at a big disadvantage," Ching said. "Hopefully, it (a strike) doesn`t happen."
MLS management have offered a no-lockout pledge, but players have yet to respond with a no-strike promise, raising the spectre of the league`s first work stoppage.
The current collective bargaining agreement expired on January 31. The sides have twice extended bargaining, with players vying for increased free-agent rights and more guaranteed contracts. MLS play is due to open on March 25.
For next Wednesday`s friendly against the Netherlands in Amsterdam, the US team should more closely resemble the team that helped the United States book their place in a sixth straight World Cup.
That will be the last match before Bradley names his 23-man squad for South Africa.
In May the US will play friendlies against Czech Republic (May 25) and Turkey (May 29 at Philadelphia) before departing for South Africa.
The Americans, who were ousted in the first round of the 2006 World Cup, launch their campaign June 12 against England. Six days later they play Slovenia, they close the first round against Algeria.