HARRISON, N.J. – It was far from a flawless performance, but the US national team certainly won’t complain about a 2-1 victory with just one Send Off Series match remaining before they depart for Brazil.
Fabian Johnson and Clint Dempsey, back in the team after a sore groin made him a late scratch vs. Azerbaijan, scored on either side of halftime as the Americans held Turkey to a late goal from the penalty spot at Red Bull Arena on Sunday afternoon in front of 26,762 fans.
Jurgen Klinsmann made three changes to the starting lineup from Tuesday’s 2-0 victory vs. Azerbaijan. Dempsey returned to partner Jozy Altidore up top and Brad Davis and Timmy Chandler, making his first US start since a Feb. 2013 World Cup qualifying loss in Honduras, replaced DaMarcus Beasley and Alejandro Bedoya on the left flank.
For the third match running, the US boss opted for a 4-4-2 formation and diamond midfield featuring Michael Bradley in the No. 10 role. The backline, meanwhile, played their first match together as a unit, keeping a clean sheet until a minute from time .
Turkey was first to take attacking initiative, as Selcuk Inan tested Tim Howard with an eighth-minute volley. For much of the first 45 minutes, the US struggled to close down space on the flanks and the visitors found room to work with in front of Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron in central defense.
Still, their forays forward were fruitless, and the Americans nearly grabbed the lead in the 15th minute when Altidore smashed in a loose ball from close range following a Davis corner kick, only for the referee to call the striker for a push on the play.
It took the US 11 more minutes to find the back of the net, with no whistle to negate Johnson’s brilliant half volley following a picture-perfect pass from Bradley.
After Altidore held the ball up in the right corner, the US rotated it as far Johnson, who found Bradley’s feet at the top of the 18-yard box before making a run for goal. The Toronto FC man’s chip over the Turkey backline found the right back in stride, and the left-footed finish found side netting.
With the momentum in their favor, the US continued to push forward, with Altidore nearly drawing a red card after being taken down at midfield. Referee Slim Jedidi played advantage on the play as Dempsey streaked downfield, but the US captain couldn’t find a way past Turkey ‘keeper Onur Kivrak.
Klinsmann made three changes at halftime, with Besler, Jones and Howard making way for John Brooks, Kyle Beckerman and Brad Guzan, who was called into action for the first time in the 51th minute when he smothered a drive from Ahmet Ozek.
Guzan barely had time to blink after making that save before the US make it 2-0. This time the attack came down the left flank, a cross from Chandler poked in by Dempsey at the back post in the 52nd minute.
Nine minutes later, some lackadaisical defending nearly allowed the visitors to pull one back. Gokhan Gonul was free on the left flank, bearing in on goal, but Chandler recovered in time to put pressure on the shot and Guzan was able to push the tight-angle effort out for a corner kick.
With just under a half hour remaining, Klinsmann made his final moves of the afternoon, sending Julian Green Green on for his second substitute appearance for the US to spell Davis, and replacing Johnson and Zusi with DeAndre Yedlin and Mix Diskerud.
Brooks, in particular, impressed as Turkey found the legs to mount a few final attacks, finally breaking through in the 89th minute via an Inan penalty kick after Cameron was called for a handball on the goal line.
With their shutout spoiled, the US saw out the final minutes to conclude a second straight victory ahead of their final tune-up match on American soil vs. Nigeria in Jacksonville, Fla., on June 7 (6 pm ET, ESPN2).
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Michael Bradley||This is the Bradley we want to see -- night and day from the SF version. Making plays all over the field and gifted US fans a delightful assist on the opener.|
|2||Fabian Johnson||Showed a finisher's touch on the goal, but also managed the right back position expertly with judicious runs into the attack. Great feel for the game.|
|3||Clint Dempsey||The return of the captain seemed to give the team a renewed edge about them. He was active around goal and his endeavor was rewarded with the 2nd goal.|