USA-Turkey: Three takeaways

By Ridge Mahoney

The Americans overcame some defensive glitches to beat Turkey, 2-1, Sunday at Red Bull Arena in the second of its three warmup games for the 2014 World Cup.

TESTING CONDITIONS. The central pairing of Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron, who looks like a starter in place of Omar Gonzalez at the World Cup, received a stern test and only some wasteful shooting by the Turks kept them off the board until the final minute.

Cameron, who played nearly all of his 37 games last season for Stoke City at right back, is going need time to get familiar with the greater spaces and increased angles to be defended while playing in the middle. He and Besler must also refine their partnership and communication of who steps up and who drops, or when they move as a tandem.

Yet a pressing midfield often left gaps that holding mid Jermaine Jones couldn’t possibly plug, which opened up lanes for Turkey to get at the back four. The midfield diamond at times looked more like an inverted rhombus, with Michael Bradley pressing so high at times he was alongside forwards Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.

It’s unlikely the Americans will present such an aggressive midfield look at the World Cup unless it is used as a brief change of pace or they are in critical need of a goal. But it can be a useful tactic, as it presses Bradley further up field and closer to goal, which -- as he displayed once again with a neat collection and elegant chip that sent Fabian Johnson clear to score the first U.S. goal -- is where he can be very dangerous. Bradley probably won't get that much time and space in Brazil, but there's no question opponents will be wary of him.

To his credit, Jones did come up with several vital blocks and though he passed poorly at times, including a sloppy giveaway in the defensive third late in the first half, his robust challenges and considerable range are the obvious reasons he’s still a starter. However, the energy he must expend make it unlikely he’ll be asked for 90 minutes in each game. 

THE RIGHT MAN AT RIGHT BACK? For nearly a decade, Steve Cherundolo was the automatic choice for the USA at right back. He manned that spot for German club Hannover so well he long ago was named co-captain. He retired last spring with 370 appearances for the club and is the assistant manager of the club’s amateur team.

The torch may be passed within the Bundesliga. Johnson hasn’t played there all that much for head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, yet he has enough experience there for Hoffenheim to give the Americans a sense of stability in that position. He’s a good dribbler and while he won’t get many opportunities to cut inside and go for goal, he did just that to meet Bradley’s chip and hit it on the short hop inside the far post.

Cherundolo was renowned for getting up the flank to work combinations and deliver accurate crosses, but seldom took up a shooting angle. He scored two goals in his 87 appearances, and the first of them was a long-range chip against Germany in 2006 that was about the only highlight of a 4-1 loss. His second, against South Africa the following year, came on a nice feed from Maurice Edu but wasn’t anything like Johnson’s superb finish.

Johnson’s value will primarily lie in his ability to secure what’s likely to be a very hot corner in Brazil, but there’s no doubt the outside backs will be required occasionally to contribute offensively. That push forward, the one-two with Bradley and crisp finish will give the USA foes something to watch for. He netted his first USA goal in his 21st appearance.

STAY HEALTHY, CLINT. Once upon a time, former USA head coach Bruce Arena said of Dempsey, “He tries s---.” And when he does, s--- happens. In the absence of Landon Donovan, and with Altidore mired in a funk so deep even legitimate goals don’t count, the Americans are ever more dependent on their savvy, crafty captain.

So it came to be for his 37th goal. The Turks deserved better than to go down, 2-0, early in the second half, but that’s what happens when carelessness and cleverness converge.The Dempsey method is unconventional at times, but it’s predicated on constant probing and foraging, and not the gung-ho, full-field bull rushes some would prefer.

It was Dempsey, remember, who struck that speculative shot at the last World Cup that England keeper Robert Green fumbled spectacularly into his own net. Dempsey feasts on mistakes, either those created by himself or, as in the case of Turkey, on balls knocked into the danger zone.


13 comments about "USA-Turkey: Three takeaways".
  1. Mark Hardt, June 1, 2014 at 6:05 p.m.

    I don't think we can continue to hope Altidore comes out of his funk. We can not afford to waste chances against our WC group. We need to start Johannssen who is white hot and bring in Altidore towards the end and hope he can snag a goal. Other we will have to wait till some games with Panama next summer at the Gold Cup to get him going.

  2. Larry Milnes, June 1, 2014 at 7 p.m.

    Altidore first needs to shed 5 to 8 pounds. Second he is not as effective as a lone striker, target, or positioned to play with his back to the goal and be expected to consistently overpower his defender. He is great on the ball, first touches, bursts of speed, taking on defenders, and assists---all of which are more effective with his size and speed, and better with reduced weight and quicker speed. The 4-4-2 fits him as long as he stays in motion and makes a lot of diagonal runs. He cannot last 90 minutes at the pace needed to best utilize his position and skill detailed above. He is not a starter. He should come off the bench at around 70 minutes and with fresh legs and a lot of pent up enthusiasm from observing off the bench, maximize his prowess and be a focus for balls played forward with supporting runs from the midfield to really cause havoc in the box. No question in my mind, Johannsen and Dempsey should start up front. If Altidore does keep the nod for the start, it should not be without his loss of some additional agility and stamina killing pounds, 5 to 8 pounds minimum, I think 8 to 12 and he is invincible.

  3. Charles Stamos, June 1, 2014 at 7:02 p.m.

    What a freaking disaster at left back! Could Chandler have had a worse game? Not marking, out of position, give-away passes, allowing the breakaway leading to the PK, OW! Up top, Altidore is not finishing. Get someone else in there, Dempsey makes one slick move the whole game, but he can't trap the ball, his lackadasical play gives the defense time to defend, he can't hardly pass to anyone, he will only provide a good pass to himself, at midfield, Bradley is the captain, he's fantastic going forward and wonderful taking a pass under pressure and making the correct move to get out of the defensive half; a marvelous assist and anice finsih by FJohnson. Zusi and Davis get mixed reviews as they show signs of creative play and defense, but lack the consistency that is needed in midfield. Very poor marking in the first 15 by our backline, are they in a zone? are they afraid to get close to an attacker before the ball is served. Very fortunate there were not any Turkish attackers who could score. The 2nd half defense was much better, except of course for TChandler. Howard and Guzan played very well. Green and Brooks did well as subs, Yedlin and Dik not so good. Not a bad effort, but get a left back!

  4. Allan Lindh, June 1, 2014 at 7:02 p.m.

    Cameron, Johnson and Chandler should have been working together on the back line for the last year. Real failure on JK's part to not recognize that his back line sucked a year ago, and that Geoff was the center of the solution. After all, Cameron is the only US field player that has played regularly in a first class league the last two years. Probably too late now to wear in a new center back pairing.

  5. cisco martinez, June 1, 2014 at 7:52 p.m.

    Word of advice for everyone altidore is not a lone strike when you play a 4-4-2 diamond.

  6. Dank Hoss, June 1, 2014 at 9:50 p.m.

    Left back is a real problem. What about moving Beasler to left back? Could also add a second central mid in front of the back four, and go with a 4-2-3-1 with the following:


    Davis Bradley Dempsey

    Jones Beckerman

    Beasler Brooks Cameron Johnson


    Nice to keep Bradley in the attack, but I worry about Jones in that critical spot - risky challenges and bad passes. Beckerman will do alright. Maybe drop Bradley back for Jones, put Dempsey in the central attacking role, and fill in with Bedoya or Zusi on the outside. Not sold on Davis either - could be Bedoya, Zusi, Green, or anyone else who delivers. Johannsson and Wondolowski can bump Altidore if he continues to struggle.

  7. Mark Hardt, June 2, 2014 at 8:58 a.m.

    Running his but off or not, single or double forwards Altidore is not getting the job done. Start johannssen and bring in Altidore later to hopefully snag a goal to get going. Undersized or not Aaron is scoring goals.

  8. Walt Pericciuoli, June 2, 2014 at 10:54 a.m.

    Altidore, needs to be on the bench now. His confidence is shot. Dempsey, what and attitude.He's the "Captain"? Green is not ready. Chandler has a way to go,but part of his problem was having no help from either Davis or Zusi who were the supposed MF players in front of him. Seldom did I see them behind the ball defending. I couldn't figure out what Zusi or Davis contributed to the match other than the occasional set piece. Positively, I liked the Cameron- Besler pairing better than Besler- Gonzalez. Jones played a second controlled game. Johnson was solid, Bradley was steady and showed he is the one to be at the tip of that diamond as an attacking player. Beckerman looked like he could handle himself when needed.

  9. Greg Morris, June 2, 2014 at 11:19 a.m.

    I think we all tend to see in players what we already have determined to be so. I certainly am not a fan of Jozy and he clearly does not have the confidence of a striker right now, but can we at least acknowledge that this was the best performance we have seen from him in quite some time? He was active, pressed and created opportunities. Would our evaluations of him have been different if Dempsey had actually attacked the goal instead of looking for a pk on a play that Altidore made? Or if Diskerud had headed home the ball Altidore crossed? How about if he actually had another forward up top with him who was working hard? Altidore may not be the answer in Brazil and I definately want to see more Johannsson but lets at least acknowledge that yesterday he gave the type of effort that we have all wanted - and Dempsey played in a way that we would rip Altidore for.

  10. Greg Morris, June 2, 2014 at 11:26 a.m.

    Charles - Yedlin not so good? Thought he was caught overlapping on a counter once. Other than that he played well. Showed speed, strength, aggressiveness and repeatedly won balls. I would be terrified to see him there for 90 minutes but rest assured we are going to need his pace at times in Brazil. Agree that Chandler was a disaster. 2 horrendous giveaways leading to the goal.

  11. cisco martinez, June 2, 2014 at 12:55 p.m.

    Just because Altidore does not score does not mean he is not creating chances for others or making positive things happen. Altidore is great at holding off defenders, getting the ball under pressure, relieving pressure, and creating space for others while holding the ball. I am no fan of Klinsmann, but his rationale to have Altidore in the line-up is good, especially since Klinsmann was himself a world class striker.

  12. Cory Leonard, June 3, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.

    Sometimes I truly wonder if I watched the same game as you guys. Deuce was as active as I've ever seen him, I think y'all were confused because he actually played with a smile on his face as opposed to his usual scowl. Bradley is class, no question, and so is Zusi. He put the same chipped ball that Johnson scored with on Dempsey's foot a few minutes before then and deuce got an unlucky touch on. Chandler was poo, didn't look good in defense or trying to press forward. Everything else was mostly average from where me and my friends were seated.

  13. BJ Genovese, June 3, 2014 at 7:43 p.m.

    I agree, why is Cameron coming in as a center forward now?? He has had Gonzales in that position consistantly. Also I just heard that Klinsmans Son has been called into a u18 BNT camp. Total crap! He wants to really learn his lesson they should have left him out... Klinsman should have been the one to call that. Sounds like Jonathan is a little spoiled.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications