photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
HARRISON, N.J. — The U.S. Men’s National Team may have had to hold on late, but it is still unbeaten in its send-off series.
The U.S. edged Turkey, 2-1, in front of a sold-out crowd of 26,762 at Red Bull Arena on Sunday afternoon in its second-to-last match before heading to Brazil for the World Cup. Fabian Johnson and Clint Dempsey scored on each side of halftime, but a late penalty kick from Selcuk Inan made for some nervy moments until the final whistle.
Inan converted his 90th-minute spot kick after centerback Geoff Cameron was called for a handball on the goal line, but the Americans held on for the victory in a game that saw their defense tested often by the Turks.
“It was a good game, it was quite an open game,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Based on the workload that these guys have in their legs now over the last two-and-a-half weeks, it was still a good pace, it was still a good rhythm. I think defensively first half we needed to make some corrections at halftime.
“We need to close the gaps a bit better, so we still have a lot of work on that ahead of us to become more compact, more connected between the players, making it more difficult for the opponent to come through there. But overall I think it was a nice game to watch.”
Turkey had the majority of the quality scoring chances in the opening 25 minutes, but inaccuracy in front of goal kept the proceedings level before Johnson and Dempsey struck in the 26th and 52nd minutes, respectively, to swing momentum in the U.S.’s favor.
Johnson scored his first goal for the U.S. after playing a beautiful give-and-go sequence with Michael Bradley, who collected a pass from the right back before chipping the ball over the back line. Johnson then one-timed a shot into the left corner of the net.
“He has the change of pace that can really surprise opponents and that’s what it was,” said Klinsmann of the play. “He goes into the midfield, plays a one-two basically with Michael and goes for it.”
Dempsey netted the winner and one of the easiest goals of his career following a defensive blunder by Turkey. The U.S. captain saw a ball trickle across the six-yard before and proceeding to poke it home from a foot out at the back post.
“I feel good,” said Dempsey. “I’m playing well with the club ball. It’s only been three games here and it’s always good to score.”
The Turks had more than enough opportunities to score at the beginning of the game. Inan, Oguzhan Ozyakup and Nuri Sahin all had good looks in the first 20 minutes, but were not able to beat Tim Howard. Sahin came closest, firing a shot off the outside part of the right post in the 12th minute.
As much as the U.S. struggled defensively in its 4-4-2 diamond setup in the first half, it almost took a lead through Jozy Altidore in the 15th minute. Altidore found the back of the net following a corner kick from the left, but he was deemed to have fouled his defender and the goal was waved off.
Johnson then gave the U.S. lead with his tidy finish, which helped calm the game down a bit and allowed for the Americans’ attack to begin creating its own chances.
Dempsey doubled the lead seven minutes into the second half, which saw the U.S. use its six substitutions and tweak things tactically in order to limit the looks Turkey had on goal.
“Michael a little bit deeper and we sat a little bit,” said Cameron. “We recognized that early and we knew what was going on and Jurgen made the change. I thought, overall, it was fantastic.”
While the defensive performance improved in the closing 45 minutes, a late turnover by left back Timmy Chandler led to a penalty kick being awarded to Turkey. Substitute goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who entered the match at halftime, was not able to keep Inan’s attempt from 12 yards out from finding the back of the net despite guessing correctly.
The Americans will travel to Jacksonville, Fla. on Monday to begin preparing for their final pre-World Cup friendly vs. Nigeria on June 7.
What do you think of the U.S.’s 2-0 win over Turkey? Feeling confident about the Americans’ chances at World Cup after the performance? Who impressed you?
Share your thoughts below.
Haven’t seen anyone mention this, but I thought the US’s play out of the back was great in the first half. Several slow, measured buildups that used smart passing to move the ball from defenders to forwards and create chances without losing the ball. Can’t remember if Johnson’s goal came off something like this.
I would be interested to see a Mix/Bradley CM combo, with Bedoya/Fabian as outside mids. I would also like to see Aron and Jozy combo up top. At the back, a 4 of Chandler, Brooks, Besler, Cameron interests.
Not impressive overall, but not time to panic. One more game against an opponent similar to what we will see in game 1 vs. Ghana. Hope to see more improvement and more cohesion vs. Nigeria. After replaying the match, what is concerning is our work rate. Too many times, Davis and Suzi are just walking back in transition and not marking or tracking runners. That will destroy us in the Group of Death.
GK: Howard and Guzan are both top notch, nothing to fret over here
CB: major concern here. Brooks looked the best of the 3 today. If Brooks emerges as a starting CB, Cameron could move to RB, leaving Fabian to move to LM or LB.
RB: Fabian, dynamite going forward, but caught way too high on many occassions; must be more disciplined in Brazil. Yedlin-solid day for him. For all the talk about his positioning, I was impressed with his discipline. Also solid 1v1. Real option for me at RB now. May give JK the freedom to play Fabian at LB or LM
LB: Questions still to be asked here. Chandler was decent today, good moments and some bad. I think Davis is to blame for some of Chandler’s faults today, but Chandler cannot afford a mental breakdown like he did in the 90th minute. To me, it’s an even race b/t Chandler and Beas at LB.
CDM: Jones and Beckerman both had good showings. Jones lays it all on the line, but like Beck’s discipline more.
Bradley: his pass was a thing of beauty. We were better in the 2nd half when he dropped deeper in to the midfield. He was average vs. the Azeri, much better today
LM: big time question marks here. Davis is not the answer, and shouldn’t see the field in Brazil. Green just isn’t ready, but will be a premium talent in the future.
RM: Suzi was meh today, great moment on the pass to Green, not impressed with his work rate, touch or decision making today. Mix didn’t make the impact he normally does.
ST: Dempsey up to his old tricks today, looked dangerous on the ball, but disappeared in spurts. Need him to put in a full 90 every game in Brazil, cannot afford for him to disappear. Jozy was physical and a threat all day. But he must finish! He will play 270 minutes in Brazil, but has to put his chances away.
What is also disappointing is that we still really don’t have a clue who our best 11 is. After every match, I tend to change my opinion on our best 11. For now, I like:
CB: Brooks and Besler
CM: Bradley and Beckerman
ST: Dempsey and Jozy, although I really think AJ is one of our top 11, just not sure how to get him on the field.
If we were playing Ghana tomorrow, my 18 would be:
GK: Howard, Guzan
DEF: Chandler, Besler, Brooks, Cameron, Beasley, Yedlin
MID: Fabian, Mix, Bedoya, Bradley, Beck, Jones, Suzi
ATT: Dempsey, Jozy, Aron
You don’t have to cut it down to 18 in the World Cup, all 23 are there.
Didn’t realize that.
Well, you can only name 18 for any particular game.
Not in the WC,, all 23 are eligible gameday
And that’s why Klinsmann is the coach, and you have a blog.
Hit done too early.
Jozy had a great game. Even the Turkey manager was impressed. I’m thinking he knows more than you or I. A straight swap for Johansson would leave our attack stifled.
You want to take Fabian out of the position he’s played with regularity for the past 4 months with his club team after he played the best game he’s ever played in a US shirt.
Brooks is the 4th centerback. Yedlin is the third right back. Neither figure to see much time in Brazil, barring injury. There is something to be said for gaining experience. And the final game before a World Cup is NOT the time to bleed the youngsters.
Dempsey – Bradley – Zusi/Bedoya
Jones – Beckerman
Maybe Klinsmann should quit now because he dared insult the sacred cow named Landon Donovan. I am tired of hearing Landon is entitled to go because
Landon is a better forward than Jozy
Landon can cross better than Davis
Landon is taller than Brooks
Landon has better teeth than Chandler
Landon is faster than Yedlin
Landon is more handsome than Johannsson
Landon has better hair than Diskerud
He is NOT the team. He is 32 years old and cannot play on the wing. He was listed as a forward and the other players outplayed him. Get over it.
But they don’t know anything about the sport. What else can they talk about?
i can tell you have a good argument because you didn’t have to make up anything.
Brooks is taller.
I thought Chandler was solid for the most part but physically wore down late and that led to two major blunders. The bigger issue in the back is there’s just no leader and thus no communication.
When it comes to Chandler, USMNT fans have started to believe their own BS. The narrative on him is so hilarious, it’s become a caricature of itself. “His body language is bad…he’s just not into it, etc.” I’m willing to bet none of these people have seen him play in a Bundesliga game. Is any of that stuff different than from how he looks for Nuremberg? He just strikes me a low-key, somewhat reclusive kind of personality, and people seem to think that just because he’s not out there getting U.S. tattoos that he’s not committed. Hogwash.
I would like to see him on the right side though. He’s clearly not as comfortable on the left.
As far as Brooks goes, he played really well today, but he’s not replacing Besler. Come on, folks. The U.S. is gonna sink or swim with MB5 in the middle.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just a guy on the internet waiting in line for his tin-foil hat as a member of an increasingly insufferable fanbase.
Sorry about the crazy typos.