Not Hurt: Late-sub Cahill scores, Socceroos fall to Japan

IMAGE, FOOTBALL FEDERATION AUSTRALIA

A nasty hip injury sidelined New York Red Bull star Tim Cahill this past Friday, just as Australia began preparations for their encounter against Japan.

With concerns swirling over the nature of his knock, Cahill proved, once again, his ability to work through the pain.

The Australian talisman entered Tuesday’s match against the defending Asian Cup champions in the 72nd minute for teammate Matt McKay and made an impact.  Following a Ryan Leckie cross, Cahill scored on a trademark header in the 92nd minute.  That effort was too little, too late for the Socceroos as they fell to Japan in the final friendly before hosting January’s Asian Cup tournament.

For Cahill, his consolation goal puts a nice bow on an unbelievable season on the international stage.  Through 20 matches with Australia, the Socceroos’ talisman scored 10 goals, including a wonder-volley that has earned him a nod in FIFA’s Puskas Award for the best goal of the year.  His efforts spearheaded an inspired Australia during the World Cup, rallying the mighty underdogs to competitive performances against Spain, the Netherlands and Chile.

The 34-year-old still has plenty of soccer to play for prior to January’s Asian Cup.  The New York Red Bulls are in the throes of the MLS playoffs, set to face a dangerous New England Revolution side at Red Bull Arena this weekend in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final.  Cahill was a vital fixture in the club’s Supporters’ Shield winning 2013 season.  However, veteran Peguy Luyindula has overtaken Cahill in the midfield, relegating the Australian star to bench duties with his club.

Here are the match highlights: