[USA-TURKEY]The win over Turkey on Saturday marked the midway point of the USA's World Cup dress rehearsal. But how much do these final friendlies really reveal about the USA's chances at the World Cup?
As it does before each World Cup, the USA plays three exhibition games to mimic the first-round schedule.
Last Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic, the win over Turkey, and next Saturday’s friendly against Australia in South Africa have the USA playing three games in 12 days, as it will in Group C, against England, Slovenia and Algeria.
Against the Turks, a cohesive second-half performance enabled the USA to over come a 1-0 first-half deficit for a 2-1. It also marked its first victory since a 2-1 win over El Salvador in February and upped its 2010 win-loss-tie record to 2-3-0.
Before the 2006 World Cup, at which the USA exited in the first round with two losses and a tie, then-Coach Bruce Arena’s team lost to Morocco (0-1), beat Venezuela (2-0) and squeaked by Latvia (1-0). The weak competition in these final warm-ups would later be partially blamed for the Americans' poor showing at in Germany.
Before its quarterfinal appearance at the 2002 World Cup, the Americans, also under Arena, beat Uruguay (2-1), thumped Jamaica (5-0) and lost to the Netherlands (0-2). The loss before leaving for South Korea came against the strongest team not to have qualified for the World Cup.
The USA exited the 1998 World Cup with three straight losses. Before leaving for France, the Steve Sampson-coached team tied Macedonia (0-0), beat Kuwait (2-0) and tied Scotland (0-0).
The USA's worst performance (1998) in the last three World Cups came after its poorest dress rehearsal. Its best, in 2002, followed its most impressive run in the warm-ups.
The friendly results may be meaningless on paper, but the win over Turkey provided a much-needed confidence boost.