August 1, 2014

U.S. World Cup Team Defeats Turkey 2-1

The United States Men’s National Team was in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday for a World Cup warmup “friendly” against Turkey.  It was one of the team’s last games before World Cup action starts on June 12th against England.  With lots of questions about the team, specifically their defense,the U.S. was looking to find some chemistry and potentially some momentum and confidence. After trailing early, the United States came back and defeated Turkey 2-1.

The United States trailed Turkey 1-0 after a first half of relatively uneven play.  When the U.S. was taking care of the ball, they created opportunities.  They were playing relatively wide open.  Counter-attacking was the story of the half.  When the U.S. drove deep into Turkey’s end, they were quickly barraged right back.  This was the case unfortunately for U.S. defenseman Jonathan Spector.  Spector got caught sleeping on the right side of the back line and nearly single-handedly gave up the lone goal.

In the second half at 58 minutes, the United States tied it up on a great combination from Landon Donovan and Jozy Altidore.  Donovan made a run behind the defense, received a great lob pass from Robbie Findley inside the Turkish goal area.  Donovan handled the ball beautifully as he beat the Turkish goalkeeper right with one touch before crossing left to a wide open Jozy Altidore.  Altidore smashed it down the center of the untended net.  It was a great goal as Donovan made a great pass and Altidore timed his run perfectly to find space in between at least three Turkish defenders.

The United States’ second goal came in the 75th minute as Clint Dempsey bulldozed through a tackle before blasting the ball off the Turkish goalkeeper and in.  The ball was delivered to Dempsey by Landon Donovan off a throw-in right after a U.S. substitution.  Dempsey’s first touch seemed a bit lucky, but all that matters is that his second touch put the ball in the back of the net.

The U.S. had many other good scoring opportunities in the second half.  Dempsey almost added a second goal on a nice feed.  He hit the outside of the right post.  On a free kick just outside the 18 yard box, Jose´ Francisco Torres almost caught the defense sleeping on the near side.  His quick bender over two near side defenders just hit the outside of the Turkish net.

As the U.S. now heads to South Africa for the World Cup there are a few things that should benefit the team.  United States goalkeeper Tim Howard is clearly a team leader.  In the first half before the first goal was scored, Howard came screaming out of his net after some tentative defense almost cost the U.S. a goal.  The defense seemed to play more aggressively after that to mixed results.  Regardless, the leadership that Howard provides to the somewhat suspect defense will be very important if the U.S. plans on doing anything in World Cup play.

Howard backed up his leadership with impressive play.  He could hardly be blamed for the lone goal.  On other occasions Howard came out and made impressive plays.  On one play, Howard was forced to cover for his defense coming outside the 18 yard box to head a ball to safety.  On another play that was eventually called offside, Howard came out, effectively choked the angle away from the offensive player before knocking the ball away with his right hand on a diving slide.

The U.S. took care of business, but questions still remain.  The United States played a poor first half and even though they scrambled in the second half, their play was far from providing confidence going into the World Cup.

(Image Nicholas Kamm / Getty Images)

  • stin4u

    nice write up Craig

    This is the result you get from our starters actually playing against a quality side. Your about Howard, he is entering his prime and if these guys can figure out ways to score in front of him this team has a chance to make a nice run in the cup.

    It was also nice to see Jozy Altidore grab a goal although it was the result of a brilliant ball by Landon. And of course my boy DUECE put one in! Clint has been my favorite player since his days with NE Revolution. Things are looking up I think we may surprise a few people *cough*England*cough*.

  • sam

    It’s a shame we got the US Women’s team instead of the Men’s team here in Cleveland. Oh well, maybe another time.

  • Omar13Vizquel

    I watched England “beat” Japan 2-1 today in a friendly. England conceded early on with a neat little corner flick by Japan, who defended well after going up….for a while. England eventually took the lead on two own goals, after Lampard missed a penalty. They didn’t look like Brazil in 1970, but goodness knows you don’t need to play exceedingly well to advance at the World Cup (Germany and Italy ’06 can tell you that). However, England did look shaky, and despite a few nice little connections between Gerrard and Rooney, they didn’t really threaten too much. Walcott looked fast but inept, and Lennon didn’t offer too much.

    Rationally, England should beat the USA 8 times out of 10, and so I’m not expecting a win. Nor do we NEED to win to advance out of our group. However, I really wouldn’t be surprised if we went up on a set piece goal early on, and then bunkered down and defended the heck out the rest of the game. It’ll be a tough test, and one I’m not really looking forward to (I can’t stand England or the English). But wouldn’t a point or 3 be nice….

  • http://twitter.com/Bbo13 B-bo

    While I have long thought Landon Donovan to be perhaps the most overhyped US Soccer player ever, he did play a great ball to Altidore. This was a nice way to send things off to South Africa, though the counterattack that led to the Turks goal is exactly the kind of thing that worries me about the American squad. If there’s any hope of advancing beyond the group, our mids cannot play such a passive, indecisive style.

  • MikeLew

    Findley, Torres, Cherundolo, and Onyewu all came in at the start of the second half. That really helped, to get our starters to play against a quality side like Turkey.

    I’m still interested in seeing how our actual first 11 will play for a full 90 minutes…or at least 60-75 minutes, which hopefully we’ll see against Australia in SA

  • Omar13Vizquel

    The number of goals (assists, penalties, free kicks, etc) that Donovan was a part of in the WC qualifying campaign and the Confederations Cup should put to bed any notion that he is not our most important player (outside of Howard, of course). If he went down injured against Australia or early in the WC we would be seriously up the creek.

  • Bryon Burgan

    I was just about to go try to find a second sports blog to find someone who will talk about the World Cup. I’m excited I can be lazy and just stay here!

  • todd

    YEAH I HATE ENGLISH TOO, LETS START COMMENTING IN A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE!

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    It seems to me that Spector got caught up on a run on the Turkish goal, and that the goal was less his fault as it was on the rest of the team for not rotating back to cover for him well. It was a pretty sublime long ball that set up the counter-attack as well.

    Watching that game yesterday got me all giddy for the WC to start.

  • dempsey

    Not a bad game by the yanks. I am liking dolo for spector and giving a considerable look at paco torres to start over mo edu (clark is on the starting on the bench come on bob bradley). Findley impressed me and i was pretty harsh on him making the final 23 so maybe a chip on his shoulder is perfect. Cant wait for the WC to get underway

  • Murph

    Awesome write up Craig, looking forward to more of your breakdowns following world cup matches

  • saggy

    donovan looked great, as he should. playing with everton has definitely impacted his game in a good way. he is much quicker on the ball with his decisions and seems to understand his playmaking role better.

    but is Landon a withdrawn, a center forward, or a center middy? who will the US use up front? Roy Hodgson has given Dempsey the tools to carve out quite a niche on the wing. I can’t see him moving up front.

    and re:Spector, I love the way he plays. it is time the USA had an attacking fullback a la Glen Johnson, Leighton Baines, Insua, Cole, or Zambrotta.

  • Kevin Hignett

    Denny, I pretty much agree with your take on Turkey’s goal but will add that it was specifically Feilhaber (FAILhaber?) who blew it on that play. Starting Torres on the left wing takes care of that, because Jose plays like a rabid chihuahua. Also, Spector made enough other mistakes IMO to justify Bradley starting Cherundolo at right back.

    USA! USA!

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13

    My fiancée Rick was there ;0)

  • TheNeedle

    The needle is glad to see a soccer write up on here as well, thank you- nice!
    I disagree with giving full blame to Spector. His mistake on that goal was only giving it away meekly at the top of the 18. He had to press forward, and in actuality it was a great chance for the US. He needed coverage behind, and for a second it looked like he’d get it, then they finally sprung that ball. I was screaming at the TV for 10-20 seconds “somebody cover!!”, abd guys just kept running forward! geesh.

    I also thought the game was encouraging. Even in the first half they had stretches of nice play and deserved a goal on that scintilating Altidore run. Then in the second they seemed to put the defense together with the offense and the play was even more encouraging. This was as good as the US had looked since Onyewu/Davies weekend of injury last fall IMO. Perfect time too. Turkey is a top 30 worldwide squad with many top level pros, and the US traded blows for 45 and took it to them for the next 45. England is the only team on the US WC slate ranked higher than Turkey, and they looked beatable last night as well needing 2 own goals to defeat the world 45 Japan.