Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
PHILADELPHIA- If the U.S. men's national team was looking for a challenge in its send-off series finale against Turkey, it got just that as it had to rattle off a shaky start to post a 2-1 victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey scored second-half goals off Landon Donovan assists, erasing a 1-0 deficit after Arda Turan netted on a counterattack in the 27th minute.
"In terms of what you want out of a send-off game, I think today was very good," said head coach Bob Bradley. "There's a lot of things on the field to build on. A real good push when we got behind. And at the end, a good hard fought win against a good team. In that regard, it accomplished a lot today."
The United States started the match slowly and found itself on its heels for much of the first half. Turkey did not enjoy much of the possession, but combined creative passing with quick counters to create its chances.
After missing several opportunities to score, Turkey took a deserved lead just before the half hour mark. Jonathan Spector lost possession near the Turks' penalty area, which allowed the visitors to attack on a quick counterattack. With no one covering for Spector, Colin Kazim-Richards played a ball to Turan on the left flank. Turan raced towards goal and slotted his shot past Tim Howard for the lead.
"When we were trying to attack certain spots and the ball turned over, they were quick to take advantage of it," said Bradley. "Counters come two ways. They come when you think there is an advantage and you're trying to press it forward, which is an important part of the game. And it comes when the reactions after the ball turns over aren't what they need to be."
The Americans did not muster a shot on goal in the first half, but the sluggish attack received a boost at halftime when Robbie Findley and Jose Torres were subbed in. Both players allowed the United States to become more dynamic on offense, and the result was a Jozy Altidore equalizer in the 58th minute.
Altidore scored when Findley played a beautifully-floated ball to Donovan, who took a deft first touch to round goalkeeper Volkan Demirel before playing the ball across the middle. Altidore got on the end of the pass and tapped in easily from close range.
"I think (Donovan) could have put the ball in himself, but he was aware that Jozy was in there and it was an easy tap in," said Findley.
The United States took the lead 14 minutes from time, as Dempsey received a Donovan pass, muscled off a defender and finished from close range with a shot that went between Demirel's legs. The goal was Dempsey's 18th for the national team.
"I got a little bit lucky," said Dempsey. "I knew it was going to be a 50-50 challenge with the defender so I didn't want to go in too hard because I didn't want to kick the ball away from me or let the goalie pick up, so I tried to absorb the hit and I was able to get a good bounce."
The United States almost built on its lead, but shots from Torres and Dempsey banged off the right post. The 2-1 lead would hold regardless, and the Americans will now look to carry over the momentum from the win to South Africa.
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