U. S., Poland play to an exciting draw

The U. S. men’s national team played to a 2-2 draw with Poland on Saturday night at Chicago’s Soldier Field. The game marked the start of Bob Bradley’s second four-year reign as coach of the national side and kick-started the rebuilding process that hopefully would lead to a place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The game overall was very competitive and well-played because both teams played positive soccer, but the U.S. defensive problems surfaced again as both goals by Poland came from defensive mistakes. Jermaine Jones was impressive in his U. S. with good midfield play and showing an uncanny ability to see the field ahead. He hit Jozy Altidore with an accurate long pass that required Altidore only to wait for the ball to drop for his low shot past the on-rushing Poland goalkeeper Artur Boruc to put the home team ahead, 1-0, in the 13th minute.

The German-born Jones plays in the German Bundesliga and is the son of an African American father and German mother. “I’m really happy the coach gave me an opportunity to be able to wear the USA uniform for the first time,” said Jones. “I just hope I get another opportunity.”

In the 29th minute, the U.S. defense was shaky again when midfielder Stuart Holding and defender Oguchi Onyewu failed to effectively clear the ball from the goal area and allowed Adam Matuszczyk to hit a hard, low shot into a crowded goal area, which gave goalkeeper Tim Howard no chance for a save.

Both Onyewu and Holding later combined to make up for their previous mistakes when Onyewu headed home Holding’s corner kick in the 52nd minute to allow the U. S. to regain the lead. Another defensive gaffe, this time with Jones losing the ball in the U.S. goal area, allowed Jakub Blazczykowski to gain possession and shoot into the crowded goal area for Poland’s equalizer in the 73rd minute.

The U. S. made a good showing overall; Onyewu’s return to full fitness is a big plus for the U.S. and midfielder Maurice Edu demonstrated his versatility by playing well at central defense alongside Onyewu. The Poles, who lost three of their previous four games against the Americans, made a game of it by their urgency, accurate passing and good ball movement.

Seattle Wins Open

The Seattle Sounders became the first MLS team to win back-to-back U.S. Open titles. Forward Sanna Nyassi scored a goal in each half to rally hosts Seattle to a 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew in a midweek game. Columbus forged ahead in the 24th minute through Kevin Burns’ goal, Nyassi’s awareness in the penalty area led to Seattle’s victory. The Sounders qualify for the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League. It is already eliminated for this year Champion’s League tournament. Nyassi also scored when Seattle defeated Kansas City Wizards, 2-1, in MLS play on Saturday and secured a playoff spot.

MLS

On Saturday, David Ferreira and Milton Rodriguez scored for FC Dallas in a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids. The draw set a Major League Soccer record for the longest unbeaten streak in a single season, 19 games, and tied the 19-game unbeaten run overall set by the Columbus Crew during two seasons, 2004-05.

In other MLS games, hosts New York and defending champion Real Salt Lake played to a goalless draw, San Jose Earthquakes beat D.C. United, 2-0, on goal by Chris Wondolowski and secured its first playoff berth; and Chivas USA defeated Toronto FC, 3-0. On Sunday, New England got a rare win by defeating Houston Dynamo, 2-1. Earlier in the week, on Thursday, the Los Angeles Galaxy got past Philadelphia, 1-0, as Edson Buddle scored his league-leading 16th goal off a David Beckham corner kick. Chicago topped Columbus, 2-0, on Friday.

Digicel Cup

Puerto Rico beat Cayman Islands, 2-0, in a Group A match on Wednesday to win Group A and qualify for the second round if the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup Championship. Former St. John’s University standout Chris Megaloudis scored his third goal in as many games and Gadiel Figueroa also scored to lead hosts Puerto Rico, which will now play in Group E along with host Grenada, Guadeloupe and two teams to be determined. The Cayman Islands, Anguilla and Saint-Martin, the other group participants, were eliminated.

In Kingstown, host St.Vincent and the Grenadines played to a goalless draw against Barbados in the teams’ last Group B match and won the group on goal difference. The hosts beat Montserrat, 7-0, in their opening game, and tied St. Kitts and Nevis, 1-1, in their second outing to finish with a plus-6 goal difference.

Barbados (plus-5), which drew against St. Kitts and Nevis, 1-1, and beat Montserrat, 5-0, finished second in the group; the Kittitians beat Montserrat, 4-0, and were third with a plus-4 goal-difference.

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