HARRISON, N.J. — Facing Turkey in front of a sellout crowd at Red Bull Stadium, the United States national team grabbed their second consecutive victory of their World Cup Send-Off Series.
Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson scored for the U.S., while Selcuk Inan tallied a late goal for Turkey, in a 2-1 victory Sunday afternoon.
“It’s interesting to see who’s dealing with the workload, the intensity of it will go with us until we are in Sao Paulo,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, speaking in generalities about the pre-World Cup games.
“We have to give everybody the opportunity to step in, to get minutes and rhythm there. And we’re comfortable at every position with quality players that can get the job done once we go into the Ghana game.”
A few moments in the match’s beginning stages had the United States backline hard-pressed, and at some points, Turkey appeared to have the upper hand. The Stars and Stripes recovered, though, and held their opponents scoreless in the first half.
In the 7th minute, Graham Zusi lobbed a fine through ball to Dempsey, who maintained an expanse of field in front of him, but his aggressive first touch ultimately quelled the United States’ attack.
Midfielder Nuri Sahin came inches close to seizing the lead for Turkey, as he skidded a cross-body strike that hit the right post after Hakan Balta directed the ball away from the five-yard box.
Jozy Altidore buried a corner kick in the 15th minute past Turkey goalkeeper Onur Kivrak, but referees immediately called the striker offside.
Five minutes later, Inan’s off-target header flew by the crossbar, and Tim Howard proceeded to stuff Mevult Erdinc’s 1-on-1 effort in the next minute.
Team USA broke through in the 26th minute, subsequent to Bradley seeing his quick, right-footed bullet cleared off line by Turkish defenders.
Excellent combination play with Bradley allowed Johnson to exploit passable lanes between Turkey’s back line, and the former AS Roma man placed a deft chip for Johnson’s superb left-footed finish in the danger area.
“The ball bounced to me and I passed it to Michael (Bradley), and he gave me a great ball and I just struck it perfect,” Johnson said. “We just felt comfortable because we like to get them off (their game) the whole time. We know the runs, the plays, so I just think (the chemistry between teammates) is getting better and better.”
Altidore was hauled down at midfield in the 37th minute, single-handedly challenging on the defense, and the ball skirted forward to Dempsey permitting another threatening chance that Kivrak stopped. The referees didn’t call any penalties much to the crowd’s displeasure.
When the second half commenced, Brad Guzan substituted in for Tim Howard, and the U.S. took no time to gain a two-goal advantage, with Dempsey notching it. From the left wing, Timothy Chandler whipped a cross into the penalty box that Balta, catching the edge of the ball, failed to clear. The Seattle Sounders forward sat on the doorstep for the simple tap-in score.
“It’s part of that balance, not going too much, picking and choosing your moments when to get forward, and when you pick those right moments, they catch the opposition off guard,” Dempsey said. “We have a lot of fight, a lot of belief, and we’re going to go out there and give it everything we can.”
The 53rd minute showed Brad Davis surge up the field and zip a rapid ground pass to Graham Zusi, who blasted an endeavor mere feet away from the metalwork only to hit the side netting at the right post.
Turkish back Gokhan Gonul tried Guzan’s skills at the near post in the 60th minute following an excellent run forward, but the Aston Villa netminder parried the shot to safety.
Turkey didn’t relinquish hope, nonetheless, and a desperate Mustafa Pektemek held the ball mere feet away from Guzan, dribbling incessantly before smacking an fortunate attempt deflecting off of Geoff Cameron’s hand for the penalty kick. Inan slotted home the endeavor to halve the scoreline, 2-1.
The United States was still capable of preserving the victory, a result which could throw momentum in America’s favor if they deal with it properly.
“We have two games we won, which is great, but have tougher competition in Nigeria, the next game, and we have to make sure we hit the ground running for the World Cup,” Dempsey said.