The United States is alive in the World Cup -- thanks to the host South Koreans.
The Americans were beaten 3-1 by Poland, allowing two goals in the first five minutes. But when South Korea edged Portugal 1-0 to win Group D, it also sent the Americans into the second round as the group runner-up.
The United States will now play Mexico on Monday at Jeonju; the Koreans face Italy on Tuesday at Daejeon.
U.S. captain Claudio Reyna said, "This wasnt the way we wanted to do it, but well take it.
I was disappointed in how the team played tonight, but I am happy we went through, said coach Bruce Arena. I thought we played very well in parts. Our guys never quit.
It was a miserable night for the Americans. Along with the defensive errors, the United States couldnt buy a goal, with Clint Mathis and Brian McBride coming loose but not getting enough of the ball to make a difference.
And the two goals, from Emmanuel Olisadebe and Pawel Kryszalowicz, were partially the fault of Jeff Agoos, the snake-bit defender who has been involved in every goal conceded by the Yanks in the tournament. The humiliated Agoos was finally pulled in the 36th minute for speedy winger DaMarcus Beasley. But by then the damage had been done. For the rest of the match, the Polish team defused the American attack.
The Poles chose to rest six starters, including goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, who had promised Korea that his team would try to give them a gift. Dudek had conceded six goals in the Polish campaign. Apparently that move by coach Jerzy Engel was the spark they needed.
Olisadebe struck first for the Poles in the third minute when he converted a corner from Jacek Krzynowek. Olisadebe artfully moved the ball to Brad Friedel after leaving Agoos on the ground and collected the rebound off John OBrien to earn the Poles their first goal of the tournament.
But Landon Donovan pulled one back a second later when keeper Radoslaw Madjan couldnt hold Brian McBrides searching ball after the ensuing kickoff and Donovan headed it home. Yet he was ruled to have fouled Kryszalowicz in the box -- Kryszalowicz actually just fell down -- so the Chinese referee, Lu Jun, waved off the score.
On the restart, Krzynowek collected Madjans long ball and fed it through the legs of Eddie Pope to allow Kryszalowicz to score on a half-volley in the fifth. Once again, Agoos was the beaten man and the Poles were up 2-0. The Americans kept advancing. Mathis and McBride just did not mesh up top, and the counters that resulted when Olisadebe ran right at Agoos were difficult for the Americans to handle.
In minute 30, the Poles had a chance to make it 3-0 when Krzynowek beat Eddie Pope on the left flank and put a shot right on goal that Friedel did well to save. But the rebound fell to Maciej Zurawski who had a wide-open net. Fortunately for the Americans, the ball rocked off the post and through Friedel, and Olisadebes attempt to serve it back hit the side nets.
The Poles added the icing in the 66th minute when sub Marcin Zewlakow slammed home a header that cleanly beat Earnest Stewart. Tony Sanneh would trip up Kryszalowicz in the box in the 76th for a penalty call, but Friedel made his second big save of the games when he stonewalled Marek Kozminski. Donovans 85th-minute strike got at least some pride back on the board, but it was too little, too late.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun