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Postgame: US 2-1 Turkey

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5pjkxfZ63A[/youtube]

So I just got home from today’s 2-1 win by the U.S. over Turkey here in Philly. My buddy’s car broke down, so I caught the train home, and that told me a bit about how much excitement there is for the upcoming World Cup. On my half of the train car, there were U.S. fans who made the trek in from Minneapolis, Florida, Detroit and Washington, D.C., and they spent the ride chanting, singing and generally rejoicing. Some were from the American Outlaws supporters group. One guy was just drinking his way up and down the east coast. Three girls came to my part of town looking for a post-game party. All in all, good times.

And a great game before 55,407 fans at Lincoln Financial Field. We learned a lot about the U.S. team today, such as the fact that our best center midfield combo may be one nobody’s talked about before. Landon Donovan assisted on goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, and everything that needed to happen did. Though I expect you’ll hear from other PSP writers eventually, as almost all of us went to the match, I got here first! Suckers. (… says the guy who passed up the D.C. chicks’ post-game party.)

Here’s what stood out from the match.

  • Jose Torres had the game of his life.

Torres came on in the second half and put on the kind of display in center midfield that we just haven’t seen from anyone in the U.S. His deft ball control and clever passing kept the U.S. attack running like a finely tuned engine (i.e. not like my buddy’s car) and allowed the U.S. to dominate the second half after a lackluster first half. Whereas the U.S. usually lives off the counterattack, Torres allowed them to maintain and control possession in the second half. He  also had several nice tackles, and his sneaky free kick shot from the right side – when everyone expected a cross – hit the near post. If he does this again in the Australia friendly over in South Africa, your center midfield pairing may just be Torres and Michael Bradley.

  • Jonathan Spector had a game to forget.

Turkish left winger Arda Turan absolutely owned Spector for the entire first half, repeatedly smoking him like Ed Farnsworth and the guys from The 700 smoked that turkey while tailgating before the match. He beat him several times down the flank, and Turan’s goal in the 27th minute came after Spector botched what was looking like a beautiful breakaway by failing to shoot from the top of the box. The U.S. counterattack left Spector too deep, and though he hustled back to chase, he couldn’t quite make it. His rough game was made rougher by the fact that Spector’s second half replacement, Steve Cherundolo, settled down, kept Turan in check and likely secured a starting role in South Africa.

  • Robbie Findley impressed at the national team level for the first time in … uh, ever.

Findley came in as a second half substitute and, after an uneven first few moments, settled down to play a good half. His beautiful chip pass to Donovan led to the first U.S. goal. He stretched Turkey’s defense a few times and won a corner kick or two, and aside from two poor plays in which he ran out of room with the ball at the end line, he generally impressed. Maybe he heard some people (like me) saying he didn’t belong on the roster, but he definitely looked like he belonged today.

  • Dempsey comes through in the clutch again.

You just run out of words for this guy. Street-baller, trash-talker, freewheeler – how about Mr. Clutch? Typical Dempsey. A nonfactor for most of the game. Then, when the clock runs down and the U.S. needs a goal, Dempsey just finds a way to score over and over again. Interestingly, his goal in the 75th minute came after he moved back to midfield. He missed a few chances at forward, but he powered through a tough tackle to get his game-winner in the end.

  • Clarence Goodson might just start in the World Cup.

Goodson had another good showing today, playing just one half but maintaining a dominant presence in the air and controlling the ball well in the back. With Oguchi Onyewu still not looking back to full speed yet, Goodson appears to be peaking at exactly the right time. His contract with IK Start in Norway expires this year, and he could become a breakout star at the World Cup who ends up in England or Germany next season.

Player Ratings

Tim Howard: 6

Solid game for the backstop. The goal against him came on a breakaway, for which the blame falls on his defense. Had a great save on a point blank one-on-one late in the second half, but nearly gifted Turkey a goal earlier when he batted a shot just barely over the crossbar.

Carlos Bocanegra: 6

As a true center back, he wasn’t particularly dangerous on the attack, but he held down his wing defensively and didn’t turn the ball over.

Clarence Goodson: 6

Excellent in the air and steady on the ball, the 6-4 Goodson could fill the role Onyewu filled so ably in the Confederations Cup.

Jay DeMerit: 6

DeMerit was everywhere on defense, and he had to be because he was often covering for Spector getting beat.

Jonathan Spector: 3

Rough day at the office.

Landon Donovan: 7

Donovan was invisible in the first half and failed to cover for Spector on the counterattack that led to Turkey’s goal. But he assisted on both goals in the second half with nice looks. It’s clear that his time in England has helped him transform into a confident creator who doesn’t need to score goals to impact a game. He flip-flopped wings with Feilhaber midway through the first half and moved up to striker after Altidore left in the 80th minute.

Michael Bradley: 5

Bradley put in his usual hustling performance with some great tackles deep in his own half, but next time you have a point blank shot on goal, you take it.

Ricardo Clark: 4

Solid on defense, but a nonentity in the attack. When put next to Torres’ performance, Clark just lost the pole position in the competition for the second center midfield position.

Benny Feilhaber: 4

A pretty ordinary performance from Feilhaber, who blended into the background of a difficult first half. The one time he stood out was when he made a crossing pass — across his own 18.

Clint Dempsey: 6

Dempsey hit the deck more times than I could count, but the one time he refused to go down, he netted the game-winner.

Jozy Altidore: 6

Was in the right place with a well-timed run to receive Donovan’s pass for the goal. Had a nice pass that nearly led to another goal. Other than that, quiet game, but solid game.

Substitutes

Oguchi Onyewu: 5

Another one who blended into the background for much of the game, but had a great sliding block of a shot late in the game. He’s clearly not back to full speed yet.

Steve Cherundolo: 6

Judging by how Turan ran Spector in circles in the first half, Cherundolo had to be doing something right to make Turan disappear in the second half.

Jose Francisco Torres: 9

The change in the game’s flow falls largely on his and Bradley’s performance. Torres is a playmaker, if a subtle one. He keeps the ball moving and seldom loses possession, and his presence takes a lot of pressure off Bradley.

Robbie Findley: 7

A beautiful pass, a few good runs, and speed at forward that we haven’t seen since Charlie Davies.

Jonathan Bornstein: 4

During one Turkish counterattack on the right flank, I asked Adam Cann, who was sitting next to me, “Where’s Bornstein?” Adam answered, “Left back.” “Yeah,” I said, “but where is he?” Cue the knowing chuckle.

Stuart Holden: 5

Came in late, didn’t have much time to do anything. Did parade around shirtless after the game so the ladies could see him though. He only played 10-13 minutes. Can’t imagine he sweats that much.

(Photo: Getty Images)

5 Comments

  1. Ed Farnsworth says:

    Torres is my new favorite player, I too was wrong about Findley, I agree about Goodson (why was Onyewu wandering so far forward on non-set piece plays so often – I kept waiting to see us burned) and Spector sure didn’t look like the guy from the Confederations Cup. Maybe he’s suffering from a crappy season at West Ham?
    I’d like to thank Altidore for celebrating in front of us so we could see ourselves on ESPN and Dempsey, all the replays I’ve seen don’t do your goal justice – it all began with how you won the ball.
    It was much needed antidote to Tuesday’s match against the Czechs. Given who we saw, I remain convinced that match was a wasted opportunity for the final 23 to get some solid playing time together. Oh well, bring on the Sheilaroos!
    By the way, full credit to the Turkey fans. What a day.

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  5. Now i’m able to pick up most of the extras from Star Wars Website 😀

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