Cherundolo goal leads U.S. past South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The United States hopes the 2010 World Cup ends this way.
Steve Cherundolo scored in the 27th minute, and the U.S. beat World Cup host South Africa 1-0 Saturday in an exhibition game that closed the Americans' first year under coach Bob Bradley.
"We had a fantastic experience and are looking forward to coming back," Cherundolo said.
At 28, the oldest player on the U.S. roster, Cherundolo scored his second goal in 43 international appearances. The defender ran onto a pass from Maurice Edu along the right flank and put the ball over goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez on an angled shot from about 7 yards.
"I saw the opportunity to make a run. Maurice Edu played a great ball in and we are able to expose them," Cherundolo said. "As far as the finish goes, you hit it and hope a little bit, and tonight I got a little lucky."
South Africa outshot the Americans 12-3 in a match billed as the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup, and the victory improved Bradley's record to 12-5-1 since he replaced Bruce Arena last December.
"We're looking forward to coming back here for the Confederations Cup in 2009 and the World Cup in 2010," Bradley said.
The United States, which has won two straight following a five-match losing streak, was playing in Africa for just the third time -- the other two matches were exhibition losses at Morocco in 1992 and 1998.
"We have some young players with us, so the experience to play in front of this kind of crowd and get a result is important," Bradley said. "To be able to maintain a lead in that type of atmosphere is a positive."
Cherundolo turned an ankle and was limping slightly by halftime, and he was replaced by Jonathan Spector when the second half began. Cherundolo's only previous international goal was on a 75-yard drive that bounced past goalkeeper Oliver Kahn in a 4-1 exhibition loss at Germany in March 2006.
Freddy Adu, born in Ghana, made his first start and third appearance for the United States. Jozy Altidore, another 18-year-old, made his U.S. debut when he replaced Clint Dempsey in the 65th minute and became the 61st player used by the U.S. this year.
Tim Howard played goal in the first half and Brad Guzan in the second, but South Africa rarely tested the pair. The Bafana Bafana attacked more after Siphiwe Tshabalala, their lone substitute, entered in the 71st minute.
"I was happy with the way we played in the second half," said South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who coached Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title. "We created many chances, and although we didn't score, I am happy that the players understand this is part of the learning process as we build for the 2008 African Cup of Nations and the 2010 World Cup."
There was plenty of color at the match, played at Ellis Park, one of the sites for the 2010 World Cup. The ball was primarily yellow, with touches of red and green, and the Bafana Bafana wore new yellow jerseys. Players seemed a bit winded at times. Johannesburg is 5,751 feet above sea level, about 400 feet higher than Denver.
"We have made a lot of progress this year, and it is nice to cap off a lot of hard work with a victory," Bradley said.
Notes: The Americans play next against Sweden on Jan. 19 at Carson, Calif., then face Mexico on Feb. 6 at Houston. The United States starts World Cup qualifying in June and learns its possible opponents at the World Cup draw in Durban on Nov. 25. ... According to the U.S. Soccer Federation, this was the national team's 499th game.