PHILADELPHIA — Three thoughts after the U.S.’s 2-1 victory against Turkey in the Americans’ next-to-last game before the World Cup:
• Robbie Findley and José Torres helped spark the U.S. comeback. U.S. coach Bob Bradley raised eyebrows when he picked Findley for his World Cup roster and decided to leave Brian Ching home. But Findley was a revelation in the second half, showing surprising poise on a delicate chip that sprung the U.S. for its first goal and opening up the Turkish defense with a few useful runs. For his part, Torres came on at halftime for a struggling Ricardo Clark and had a solid performance, connecting on his passes and even making a few tackles (not usually his strong suit). Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey played better in the second half, not least because Findley and Torres raised the U.S.’s level as soon as they got on the field.
• The U.S.’s team defense still has a lot of issues to fix. The first-half was a horror show defensively for the Americans, who could have found themselves down by two or three goals instead of one at the break. Jonathan Spector in particular got victimized several times by Turkey’s electric left winger Arda Turan, but the U.S.’s first-half defensive problems weren’t just a concern for the back four. Defense has to be played by the entire team, and nobody—not Donovan and not Clark—did enough to cover the space left open by Spector’s forward run that Arda streaked into for Turkey’s goal on the break. Better awareness will have to be a focus for the U.S. to avoid such lightning counter-attack goals at the World Cup. That Turkey’s dominance came when both first-teams were on the field is a concern for the U.S. moving forward.
• The second-half U.S. adjustments helped, not hurt. This game was essentially the opposite of the common phenomenon in 2009, when the U.S. would build leads against tough opponents (Brazil, Italy, Mexico) and collapse in the second half. The U.S. has to have the mental toughness in the second half to either continue turning the screws or, in Saturday’s case, turn things around. The other big news of the day, of course, is that the U.S. didn’t suffer any injuries that will knock a player off the team before it flies to South Africa on Sunday. It’s the first time since 1998 that a U.S. player on the 23-man roster hasn’t had to be replaced right before the World Cup for injury reasons.
What did you think of the game? Do you prefer Dempsey in a central role (first half) or cutting in from the left (second half)? Did Oguchi Onyewu’s second-half stint ease any concerns about his readiness for England? Post your thoughts below and check back later for a post-press conference column.