World Cup Warmup Match: Czech Republic Beats U.S. Heading into next months World Cup in South Africa, the U.S. soccer team played a "friendly" match against the Czech Republic Tuesday night in Connecticut. The Czech Republic failed to qualify for the World Cup, but it was good enough to beat the U.S., 4-2.
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World Cup Warmup Match: Czech Republic Beats U.S.

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World Cup Warmup Match: Czech Republic Beats U.S.

World Cup Warmup Match: Czech Republic Beats U.S.

World Cup Warmup Match: Czech Republic Beats U.S.

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/127128829/127128845" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Heading into next months World Cup in South Africa, the U.S. soccer team played a "friendly" match against the Czech Republic Tuesday night in Connecticut. The Czech Republic failed to qualify for the World Cup, but it was good enough to beat the U.S., 4-2.

DAVID GREENE, Host:

NPR's Mike Pesca was there.

MIKE PESCA: After the game, Bradley talked about what he was watching for in order to make his decisions.

BOB BRADLEY: The window for plays is small, and the window shuts quickly. If there's too many times when now a play comes in their direction and the defender is able to just step in front of an attacker and come away with the ball, it tells you that he's still going 40 miles per hour when the game's going 60.

PESCA: For at least one moment, Herculez Gomez was up to speed. He headed in the game-tying goal in the 65th minute, but that doesn't mean he's headed to South Africa. He's hoping, though.

HERCULEZ GOMEZ: It would mean the world, that's for sure. You know, that's every soccer player's dream to be standing where I'm standing, to have the opportunity that I have, and I'm aware of that.

PESCA: Aside from the question of who would make the team, there was another query in the air: Stalwart defender Oguchi Onyewu was playing in his first game since knee surgery last October. He showed bits of brilliance, but he was also out- leaped by a player four inches shorter. Onyewu explained that had little to do with his health.

OGUCHI ONYEWU: The first goal, you know, he jumped before me. So while he was in the air and I'm just trying to jump up, he had his forearm keeping me down, you know. But aside from that, you know, nothing else.

PESCA: Next question: Did you feel rusty out there? Answer...

ONYEWU: Unidentified Man: No.

ONYEWU: No, I didn't feel any rustiness.

PESCA: So the press, by potentially freaking out over injuries to star players, was in top international form. But there was one group clearly trying to round itself into playing shape last night...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

PESCA: But the fans in East Hartford couldn't muster much more than this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING AND CLAPPING)

PESCA: Spectator Elias happily said a deeper repertoire will emerge if the fans can build on the few songs currently sung red, white and blue.

ELIAS: How do we get there? We've got to keep on doing this. We've got to exactly do what we're doing right now.

PESCA: Mike Pesca, NPR News, East Hartford, Connecticut.

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