By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
CARSON, Calif. — Chris Wondolowski scored two goals in the United States’ 2-0 victory over South Korea on Saturday in its first exhibition of the World Cup year.
Wondolowski strengthened his case for inclusion on the roster in Brazil with his sixth and seventh goals in his last eight appearances for the U.S. team, which was missing several top players. The San Jose Earthquakes striker headed home a rebound in the fourth minute and struck again on a short shot in the 60th minute.
The Americans’ patchwork lineup handled South Korea’s offensive pressure to win its 13th straight home match, thrilling a flag-waving sellout crowd at StubHub Center.
After winning 16 games and the Gold Cup title in 2013 during the most successful year in team history, the Americans began World Cup preparations with a 2½-week training camp in Brazil last month before a week in Southern California.
Several key U.S. players were not in camp and played with their European club teams, including captain Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Geoff Cameron, Jozy Altidore and goalkeeper Tim Howard. Michael Bradley also isn’t in town while getting settled in at Toronto FC.
Wondolowski started up front as the only forward in coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s scheme, while U.S. career scoring leader Landon Donovan had a quiet game in midfield.
Nick Rimando improved to 7-0 in his national team career with the shutout, including a nice save in the final seconds of injury time.
South Korea also was missing several key players during its North American swing. The team was coached by Hong Myung-bo, a former Los Angeles Galaxy defender.
The Americans scored before much of the California crowd had even settled into its seats. Graham Zusi made a looping cross to Brad Davis, whose shot was stopped before Wondolowski headed it home.
The South Koreans maintained consistent offensive pressure, forcing turnovers and scrambles by the U.S. defense. In the 43rd minute, a sliding Donovan barely missed converting a low pass from Wondolowski.
The Americans looked sharper after halftime, and Wondolowski doubled their lead after a sequence begun by Zusi. Wondolowski beat two defenders to the ball for a quick shot.
The American team is off until the full roster convenes for another exhibition in Ukraine on March 5, its final scheduled exhibition before Brazil. The U.S. team also might face Mexico in April.