USA vs. Turkey: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJune 1, 2014

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The United States men's national team took another positive step toward Brazil on Sunday, defeating Turkey 2-1 in a friendly matchup at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.

ESPN senior researcher Paul Carr breaks down what this result means:

Although the win won't necessarily inspire tremendous confidence in American fans as the U.S. gear up for the Group of Death in Brazil two weeks from now, it's another learning opportunity for the 23 men headed to South America this summer.

Coming into Sunday's match, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann discussed the importance of tightening up the back line ahead of the World Cup, per MLSSoccer.com's Simon Borg:

We need games that really keep us on our toes. We need games, especially for our back line that challenges them not to lose focus and concentration not even for one moment in our game. Otherwise you get punished and that costs you badly, especially when you go into Brazil. Mistakes will happen also in Brazil. But we’ll just reduce them as much as possible. So I think [Turkey] will be a good game for us.

The back line lost focus and concentration on several occasions on Sunday, but nonetheless, the new-look group held up when it mattered to notch a victory.

The Americans dodged a bullet early, as Bleacher Report national lead writer Dan Levy pointed out:

But moments later, Turkey were let off the hook as the referee waved off what would have been the go-ahead goal for Jozy Altidore:

Had the goal been allowed, it would have brought an end to Altidore's lengthy drought.

The U.S. finally broke through in the 26th minute, when Fabian Johnson and Michael Bradley linked up for a gorgeous goal:

Here's a look at the brilliantly timed finish from Johnson:

With a one-goal advantage in hand, the U.S. were content to sit back and defend over the remainder of the first half.  

Unsurprisingly, Klinsmann made several lineup changes at the break, replacing Tim Howard with Brad Guzan, putting in John Brooks for Matt Besler and subbing Kyle Beckerman for Jermaine Jones. 

Dempsey doubled the U.S.'s lead moments into the second half, taking advantage of a defensive breakdown for Turkey:

Despite falling behind, Turkey continued to create chances, nearly cutting into the deficit in the 60th minute. Fortunately for the U.S., Guzan was up to the task, cutting off the angle and saving one of Turkey's better scoring chances to preserve the clean sheet for the time being.

Goal-scoring prodigy Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin came on for the final 30 minutes, and right away Green found himself with a great chance to add to the lead. However, a poor first touch derailed his opportunity to leave a mark.

Apr 2, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; USA forward Julian Green (9) in the second half against Mexico during a friendly match at University of Phoenix Stadium. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Mix Diskerud entered the game late but had limited chances to make an impact as the U.S. settled in defensively, only looking to get forward on the counterattack. 

A late giveaway by Timothy Chandler led to Turkey's lone score as Geoff Cameron was forced to keep the ball out of the net with his hand, leading to a penalty. Turkey's Selcuk Inan put the chance away in the 89th minute to narrow the gap. 

Although it wasn't pretty and Turkey had their fair share of chances, the U.S. were able finish the job, meeting expectations in unconvincing fashion.

As The Virginian-Pilot's Tom White points out, the U.S. did little to strike fear into the hearts of their foes:

Afterward, U.S. women's national team star Sydney Leroux noted Altidore's struggles: 

But as soccer writer Matthew Levine highlights, the top storyline surrounding the U.S. squad ahead of Brazil continues to be the uncertainly in front of goal:

We won't have to wait much longer for those questions to be answered, but for now, it appears the U.S. have significant work left to do if they hope to escape group play in Brazil.  

United States Player Grades
Pos.PlayerGrade
GTim HowardA
DFabian JohnsonA
DGeoff CameronB
DMatt BeslerB-
DTimothy ChandlerC
MBrad DavisB
MGraham ZusiB+
MJermaine JonesB
MMichael BradleyA
FClint DempseyA
FJozy AltidoreB-
SubBrad GuzanA
SubJohn BrooksB
SubKyle BeckermanB
SubJulian GreenB-
SubDeAndre YedlinB
SubMix DiskerudB
---
Turkey Player Grades
Pos.PlayerGrade
GOnur KivrakB
DGokhan GonulC
DHakan BaltaD
DIshak DoganC
DOzan TufanC
MCaner ErkinB
MNuri SahinB
MOguzhan OzyakupB
MSelcuk InanA
MTarik CamdalB
FMevlut ErdingB
SubAhmet Ilhan OzekB+
SubMustafa PektemekB+
SubHakan CalhanogluB
SubOlcan AdinB
SubBilal KisaB
SubUgur DemirokB
---

 

Key Player Grades

Clint Dempsey, F, United States: A

Jun 1, 2014; Harrison, NJ, USA; Turkey defender Ozan Tufan battles for the ball with United States forward Clint Dempsey during the first half of their international friendly soccer match at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Dempsey was active early on but wasn't able to break through Turkey's defense, which made sure not to lose track of him, per national soccer writer Steve Davis:

Dempsey not only scored in the second half, but he also showed more than enough flashes to encourage American fans ahead of this month's 2014 World Cup. The bottom line is that we know what Dempsey is capable of, and he's surely saving his best for the big stage in Brazil.

 

Michael Bradley, M, United States: A

May 27, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; United States midfielder Michael Bradley (4) midfielder Michael Bradley (4) kicks the ball against Azerbaijan during the first half at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

As usual, Bradley was active and engaged from the start on Sunday, looking to get forward and create scoring chances for the U.S. The veteran midfielder had a chance to put the Americans ahead early, but Turkey goalkeeper Onur Kivrak pushed his shot wide. 

Bradley wasn't discouraged, though, linking up with Johnson moments later for a brilliant goal. 

 

What's Next?

The U.S. will have one more opportunity to showcase themselves and reach ideal form before group play begins at the World Cup when they host Nigeria in their final tuneup match on Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Although Group G foes Ghana, Portugal and Germany are sure to give the U.S. all sorts of problems in South America this summer, it'll certainly be beneficial for Klinsmann and company to take on a World Cup team in Nigeria just over a week prior to kickoff in Brazil.

In addition to providing players with another chance to build confidence for the World Cup, Saturday's friendly will allow Klinsmann to evaluate his players in game action one last time before choosing his starting XI for the Ghana match on June 16. 

 

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