In Jozy Altidore's absence, Edson Buddle took full advantage during the United States' 3-1 victory over Australia Saturday in Roodepoort, South Africa.
Buddle, starting in place of Altidore due to his mild ankle sprain, scored a pair of first-half goals to give the Americans a 2-1 halftime lead. Buddle's first strike came in the 4th minute after Vincenzo Grella gave the ball away in his own third. Buddle stole it, took a few touches and fired a bullet over goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer's shoulder for an early lead. In the 31st minute, Steve Cherundolo served a ball in from the right wing and Buddle -- waiting on the back post -- calmly headed it in.
This was Buddle's third appearance for the national team and his first two goals for the man named after the legendary Brazilian, Pele (Edison Arantes do Nascimento).
Robbie Findley, earning a start after a sound performance against Turkey last weekend, did not fare as well. Findley missed an open-goal opportunity in the 15th minute that could've given the U.S. a 2-0 lead.
Australia capitalized on the mishap minutes later on Tim Cahill's equalizer in the 19th minute. Cahill's goal, of course, came at th expense of goalkeeper Tim Howard -- his teammate at Everton in the English Premier League.
On the other end of the field, American forward Clint Dempsey was trying to accomplish the same feat in the 26th minute, when his shot was saved by Schwarzer. Those two are teammates at Fulham.
Though Dempsey could've laughed off that save from his 'mate, he wasn't in a cheerful mood 10 minutes later when he got into a tussle with Australia's Craig Moore. Both earned yellow cards.
ESPN commentator John Harkes then quipped, "You mess with the horns, you get the bull."
As his colleague Martin Tyler would say, "Brilliant."
The second half produced far less highlights. Findley missed another scoring opportunity in the 51st minute when he knocked another close-range shot off the crossbar. Dempsey was able to head in the rebound, but the goal was called off because the Americans were offside.
The U.S. added a late goal from Herculez Gomez on an assist from Landon Donovan. It was Gomez's second career goal and Donovan's 45th career assist.
Buddle - Findley
Dempsey - Clark - Bradley - Donovan
Bocanegra - Goodson - DeMerit - Cherundolo
Marcus Hahnemann for Howard (46) in goal
Jonathan Bornstein for Bocanegra (55) at left back
Oguchi Onyewu for Goodson (61) at center back
DaMarcus Beasle for Buddle (79). Dempsey takes Buddle's spot up top. Beasley to left mid.
Herculez Gomez for Dempsey (82) at forward