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Czech Republic tops United States in World Cup warmup

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - The Czech Republic exposed the United States' defensive deficiencies time and again, taking advantage of sloppy play in a 4-2 victory last night in the first of three World Cup warmup matches for the Americans.

Maurice Edu and Herculez Gomez each got their first international goals on a night when the U.S. rested Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and several other regulars.

But defenders Oguchi Onyewu, Heath Pearce, Clarence Goodson and Steve Cherundolo struggled along with Edu in the midfield and created openings for the Czechs, who failed to qualify for the World Cup.

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 when he beat goalkeeper Petr Cech following a nifty backheel pass by Brian Ching in the 65th.

Martin Fenin broke the tie when he beat 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.

U.S. coach Bob Bradley planned to cut seven players today and announce his final 23-man World Cup roster.

Next up is another warmup against Turkey in Philadelphia on Saturday, a day before the Americans leave for South Africa.

Once there, the U.S. has a final exhibition against Australia on June 5, one week before the big opener against England in a rematch of the famous American upset in the 1950 World Cup.

Gomez, DaMarcus Beasley and Stuart Holden had excellent games that appeared to boost their chances.

Onyewu played 65 minutes and struggled in his first match since knee surgery. Eddie Johnson was at forward for the first half and didn't do much.

Edson Buddle, making his second national team appearance and first in seven years, made some aggressive plays in the first half and spent nearly five minutes on the side getting treatment for a cut on his face.

Edu, who became a regular for Glasgow Rangers by the end of the season, scored his first goal in 13 international appearances.

Holden, playing just his second match since Nigel de Jong broke his right leg with a challenge in the March 3 exhibition at the Netherlands, sent a free kick in from the near side. Cech came out but didn't reach the cross, and the ball went from Buddle to Edu, who knocked it in.

Wearing the new white home jersey echoing the one worn by the 1950 team, Edu followed with a "Stanky Dance" in honor of injured teammate Charlie Davies, who is still recovering from injuries sustained in an October car crash.

Sivok tied it by taking advantage of a slow-to-react Onyewu. The 6-foot-4 defender tore his left patellar tendon in the last World Cup qualifier on Oct. 14 and had surgery a week later. He didn't get into a game for AC Milan at the end of the season and made his return against the Czechs.

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