MLS Int'l Roundup: Tim Cahill sets all-time goal record for Australia, Soony Saad nets for Lebanon
New York Red Bulls star Tim Cahill became Australia's all-time leading scorer on Wednesday when he nodded home the opening goal in the Socceroos' international friendly against Ecuador at The Den in London.
Cahill set the record in characteristic fashion, netting a header from inside the six-yard box after a half-cleared corner kick, with Mark Milligan setting up the Socceroos veteran.
Looking lively in an attacking role, the RBNY Designated Player played a central part in Australia's second goal, earning a penalty kick that was dispatched by captain Mile Yedinak for a 2-0 advantage. Cahill struck again before halftime, directing a diving header past Ecuadorian goalkeeper Adrián Bone for a 3-0 lead at intermission.
— Tim Cahill (@Tim_Cahill) March 6, 2014
However, Ecuador came storming back in the second half, scoring four unanswered goals – including the winner by Edison Méndez deep in stoppage time – to give the South Americans the 4-3 victory.
Toronto FC's new goalkeeper, Júlio César, was left a bystander for long periods in Brazil's 5-0 trouncing of South Africa in a meeting of the most recent World Cup host nations at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, the site of the 2010 World Cup final.
Neymar scored a hat trick, while Oscar and Fernandinho also struck, and Júlio César had little to do until he produced an impressive reaction save on Ayanda Patosi's close-range effort deep into the second half.
Sporting KC striker Soony Saad scored his second goal for Lebanon, helping the Cedars earn a 5-2 victory over Thailand in a Group B Asian Cup qualifier in Bangkok. But Saad and his teammates were cruelly denied a place in the 2015 edition of the tournament by two late developments in their match, and another qualifier in another group thousands of miles away.
Up 5-1 in the second half in Thailand, Lebanon were on course to book qualification for next year's event in Australia as the best third-place team in the Asian Football Confederation's five-group structure. The combination of results and goal differential put them a nose ahead of China, who were losing 3-0 to Iraq in a Group C match taking place in the United Arab Emirates.
But when both Thailand and China scored late consolation goals, that swung the differential stats in China's favor by one goal and left Lebanon – who have reached the Asian Cup just once in their history – out in the cold.
Vancouver's Steven Beitashour was left out of the starting lineup in World Cup-bound Iran's home friendly against Guinea at Azadi Stadium in Tehran. But his prospects may actually have been improved as his replacement at right back, Pejman Montazeri, struggled and the hosts produced a disappointing overall first-half display that left them down 2-0 at the break.
Beitashour came on for the start of the second half and helped spearhead a marked improvement. Iran cut the deficit in half through a goal from Charlton Athletic's Reza Ghoochannejhad, but could not prevent a 2-1 loss that will provide food for thought for their coach, former MetroStars boss Carlos Queiroz.
Here's the full rundown of MLSers in international action on Friday:
Tim Cahill (NY) - Started, scored two goals
Brazil – won 5-0 at South Africa, international friendly
Júlio César (TOR) - Started, played 90 minutes
England – won 1-0 vs. Denmark at Wembley, international friendly
Jermain Defoe (TOR) - On the bench, did not play
Lebanon – won 5-2 at Thailand, Asian Cup qualifier
Soony Saad (SKC) - Started, scored in 45th minute
Iran – lost 2-1 to Guinea, international friendly
Steven Beitashour (VAN) - Subbed on in 46th minute
United States – lost 2-0 to Ukraine, international friendly (Full Match Report)
Clint Dempsey (SEA) - Started, played 90 minutes
Honduras – won 2-1 vs. Venezuela
Jerry Bengtson (NE) - Started, scored 1 goal
Víctor Bernárdez (SJ) -
Marvin Chávez (COL) -
Boniek García (HOU) - Started, registerd 1 assist
Costa Rica – won 2-1 vs. Paraguay
Giancarlo González (CLB) -
Waylon Francis (CLB) -
Roy Miller (NY) -
Álvaro Saborío (RSL) - scored 1 goal