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US defense sloppy in 4-2 loss to Czechs

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — It takes more than one game, more than 90 minutes, to play your way onto a World Cup team.

So U.S. coach Bob Bradley wasn't overemphasizing his players' performances in Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic. Sure, it was the first of three dress rehearsals for the tournament in South Africa, but seven Americans almost certain to make the squad didn't even, uh, dress.

Of the ones who did, Stuart Holden and DaMarcus Beasley seemed to acquit themselves very well and likely will make Bradley's cut from 30 to the final roster of 23 on Wednesday. No one on the back line stood out, although Bradley praised the return of Oguchi Onyewu to central defense after a seven-month layoff following knee surgery.

"This was another chance for guys on the edge to prove they belong on that plane to go to South Africa," midfielder Holden said after setting up both goals off set pieces. "We discuss it amongst the guys, yes, but there is such strong team chemistry that we'll all support each other, whether you are on the roster or not."

They were to find out who made it during a nationally televised announcement Wednesday afternoon. Then it's off to Washington for a visit Thursday to the White House, followed by a game Saturday in Philadelphia against Turkey — like the Czechs, a non-World Cup qualifier.

Sunday night, the Americans head to South Africa, where they face Australia on June 5 and begin their tournament in a high-profile match with England a week later.

"It's a bit nerve-racking not knowing what's going to happen, but you just try your best all the time and take it from there," said Beasley, who returned in March from nine months away from the national squad. "I feel confident and I'm having fun and I hope to keep it going."

Bradley made it sound as if Beasley will be doing just that.

"It's been a good camp for DaMarcus," Bradley said. "I think he's shown his teammates again that there's, you know, a renewed commitment to everything."

There was not a strong commitment to guarding the net, though, and the defense has been a source of concern for a while. Aside from Onyewu returning from major surgery — he played 65 minutes — Jay DeMerit and captain Carlos Bocanegra have been battling abdominal problems.

Against the Czechs, there were too many lapses, something Bradley must hope won't be repeated when DeMerit, Bocanegra and key central midfielders Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark return to the lineup, probably vs. Turkey.

"I thought Clarence Goodson and Gooch helped us in the back," Bob Bradley said. "Remember, we're still looking at certain guys coming back from injuries. It's good to see (Onyewu) back on the field. Throughout camp he's moving better all the time; we'll see how he comes off this game."

Herculez Gomez and Maurice Edu got their first international goals, and Edson Buddle was a strong man in front, blood dripping from a cut lip that required two stitches. But Heath Pearce, Goodson and Steve Cherundolo struggled on defense along with Edu, who started in the midfield and moved back.

Before a crowd of 36,218 at Rentschler Field, Edu scored in the 17th minute only to have the Czechs surge ahead on goals by Tomas Sivok in the 44th minute and Jan Polak in the 58th.

Making just his third international appearance and first in three years, Gomez entered at the start of the second half and tied it in the 65th when he beat goalkeeper Petr Cech.

"Herculez played his way into the camp with his performance at Puebla" of the Mexican league, Bradley said. "I saw plays tonight that still for me need to be better, but obviously he scored a goal, which is very important in this whole thing."

Martin Fenin broke the tie against backup goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 78th after Pearce, Goodson and Cherundolo all failed to clear a ball in front. Tomas Necid got the final goal in the 90th after Edu jumped and failed to clear a pass, giving Necid an open path to the goal.

"A lot of energy at times. A little bit crazy," Bradley said. "In the process of trying to put so much into it I think at times we left ourselves wide open."

Notes: The U.S. goals came off a free kick and a corner kick by Holden, who is coming off a broken right leg suffered in March. ... D Chad Marshall and F Robbie Findley dressed but didn't play, an indication they may be cut. ... A fan ran across the field in first-half injury time and eventually was detained, although it took a while for security to notice and chase him.

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