TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Without its Europe-based regulars, the U.S. appears far from ready for the World Cup.
Brian Ching scored on a diving header in the 75th minute and Sacha Kljestan got the go-ahead goal in the second minute of stoppage time Wednesday night in a 2-1 exhibition victory over 71st-ranked El Salvador.
Ching, a second half sub, scored on a 7-yard shot off a long cross from Heath Pearce that goalkeeper Miguel Montes misplayed, offsetting Rudis Corrales' 59th-minute goal for Los Cuscatlecos.
Kljestan intercepted an errant pass, exchanged passes with Ching and scored from 6 yards.
Ching, Kljestan and Pearce were among only a handful of U.S. players on the night's roster who appear to have a decent chance of being selected for the World Cup roster. Ching was on the 2006 team but didn't get into a match.
All but one of the U.S. players was from Major League Soccer, which appears to be on the verge of its first strike. The Americans again badly missed their Europe-based starters, who also weren't used in the 3-1 loss to Honduras on Jan. 23.
For next Wednesday's exhibition against the third-ranked Netherlands in Amsterdam, the No. 14 U.S. lineup should more closely resemble the team that helped the Americans qualify for their sixth straight World Cup. That is the last match before U.S. coach Bob Bradley selects his 23-man World Cup roster.
Players will gather in mid-May and have exhibitions against the Czech Republic (May 25) and Turkey (May 29 at Philadelphia) before leaving for South Africa. Coming off first-round elimination at the 2006 World Cup, they open the tournament June 12 against England, play Slovenia six days later and close the first round June 23 against Algeria.
Pearce started at left back and Brad Evans at right back, with Jonathan Bornstein and Clarence Goodson — the lone Europe-based player — in the center. Ching entered at the start of the second half in place of Conor Casey. Nick Rimando was surprise starter in goal in place of Troy Perkins.
Corrales put El Salvador ahead after Evans made an errant header deep in the U.S. zone that appeared intended for Rimando.
The U.S. had five shots on goal to one for El Salvador in the first half, with Montes making diving saves on Kljestan and Robbie Rogers.