U.S. ties Poland in exhibition

Updated: October 10, 2010, 1:42 AM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- The U.S. finally played with a lead, only to waste it.


Oguchi Onyewu's goal and Jermaine Jones' assist in his first game in an American uniform weren't enough for the United States, which had to settle for a 2-2 draw in an exhibition against Poland on Saturday night after giving up leads in each half. Jakub Blaszczykowski scored on a deflected pass in the 73rd minute for Poland, winless in seven consecutive matches as it prepares for the 2012 European Championship.

"The clearances tonight weren't the best and we put ourselves under some undue pressure," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "We controlled the game for the most part, but we gave them some chances they shouldn't have gotten."

The Americans looked as if they might get the winner off Stuart Holden's corner kick in the 90th, but a defender cleared the ball off the line, and the Americans couldn't find the net on a flurry of chances that followed.

Jozy Altidore scored his first goal for the U.S. since May 29, and Adam Matuszczyk also scored for Poland, which had lost three of its previous four games against the United States.

The Americans have given up the first goal in eight of their 11 matches this year, including all but one game at the World Cup in South Africa. Playing from behind drained them, and allowed opponents to control the rhythm and tempo.

For some reason, though, the Americans don't seem comfortable in any other spot.

At least, not yet.

"It's not so much getting used to each other, it's knowing how to win games," Holden said. "Poland did some good stuff tonight but, overall, I thought we were the better team."

Though the U.S. played Brazil in August -- a 2-0 loss -- this game marked the real start of the run-up to the World Cup in Brazil, and it's clear what the Americans have to work on before 2014.

"Both goals tonight were situations where we didn't do a good job of clearing balls out of our defensive third, and eventually the penalty area," said U.S. coach Bob Bradley, directing his first game since agreeing to a four-year contract extension following the end of talks between the U.S. Soccer Federation and Juergen Klinsmann. "Those are mistakes that certainly you don't want to make and cost us two goals tonight. So certainly, that's something we've already talked about."

The Americans saw some positives that they can take into Tuesday's game against Colombia at Chester, Pa.

After a first-half gaffe, Onyewu played perhaps the best he has since blowing out his knee almost a year ago in the final World Cup qualifier. Onyewu, who hadn't played a competitive match since June 18 at the World Cup, hasn't even dressed for AC Milan this season.

He rose above Dariusz Pietrasiak to reach Holden's corner kick and headed the ball into the corner of the net to give the United States a 2-1 lead in the 52nd minute.

Jones, who took advantage of a change in FIFA rules to switch nationalities from Germany to the United States last year, looked sharp in his debut, feeding Altidore with a long ball in the 13th minute. The ball landed right at Altidore's feet right in front of the goal, and he let it bounce once before slotting a right-footed shot past goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

"I'm really happy the coach gave me an opportunity to be able to wear the USA uniform for the first time," Jones, the son of an American father and German mother, said through a translator. "I just hope I get another opportunity."

But Poland made the most of some shoddy defending and poor attempts at clearances by the Americans.

In the 30th minute, Holden tried to clear the ball, but it popped high in the air and came back down into traffic. Onyewu looked as if he was trying to head it away, but it bounced off the defender's chest and dropped at the feet of Ludovic Obraniak, who tipped it to Matuszczyk.

Howard dove, but could do nothing to stop Matuszczyk's close-range shot.

On Blaszczykowski's goal, Jones' clearance banked off a Polish player and fell to Blazczykowski.

"We paid the price tonight for some failure to clear balls. So yes, that was a mistake that hurt us. I think he would be the first to tell you that," Bradley said. "He's an experienced player who has been in many, many big games and knows the danger of losing balls in that part of the field."

Notes: D Eric Lichaj, who grew up in suburban Chicago and whose parents were both born in Poland, did not get into the game. ... MLS players Heath Pearce and Brek Shea will join the U.S. team in Philadelphia while captain Carlos Bocanegra will return to Saint-Etienne in France. ... Only about 6,000 tickets have been sold for Tuesday night's match.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press