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Thoughts on USA v. Turkey

Dan Walsh wrote a great piece on the USA v. Turkey game, and I don’t want to go over the same ground. However, there were a few things that I wanted to add.

In this game we could still see that the US is not in sync. The understanding has improved amongst the team which may have been due to playing another game together or simply that the majority of the players were the regular starters. There still needs to be improvement, and the players have already agreed with that.

Turkey played well together, kept possession, and counter-attacked. They showed individual talent and tested the American players. The Turkish employed a 4-5-1 formation that created a packed midfield and allowed them to keep possession. Their defensive counter-attacking mindset is excellent practice for the style that the Slovenians and probably Algerians will play.

Using Dempsey in a more forward position paid off. He started as a withdrawn forward and then was moved out to the left wing. However, during most of the time that he was supposed to be playing left midfield, he ended up pinching in towards the center of the pitch towards that withdrawn forward role. This meant that Jozy Altidore would cheat back left and Torres would also cheat to the left. This strategy seemed to work well. It caused an overload in the center of the Turkish defense, which Landon Donovan was then able to exploit.

Robbie Findley’s speed created space on the field that didn’t exist when Altidore and Dempsey were together up top. This is valuable even if Findley’s other abilities aren’t that great. However, during this match Robbie Findley played well and set up the first goal. He also contributed well on defense.

Steve Cherundolo played more defensively than Spector, who looked good going forward. Cherundolo’s steady defensive play is more important than Spector’s increased offensive ability, so Cherundolo ought to be the starter. Although it looked like Spector was beaten a few times, I think he was thrown to the wolves by Ricardo Clark not strategically fouling. On the first goal, Ricardo Clark could have dove in and fouled the player that made the pass to Arda Turan, a number of other could have done the same. Also Jay Demerit and Clarence Goodson should have shifted left to cover the open space. On top of that Jonathan Spector made it all the way back from the Turkish 18 to tackle Turan. That is impressive. He was out of position by design, not by poor positioning.

Donovan and Feilhaber switching sides during the first half didn’t seem to yield much. Goodson looked good on defense and seems like he would probably start over Gooch, who is going to need some time to get back to good form.

Jay Demerit played pretty well and he showed good deep passing out of the back. Beyond that all the wingbacks with the exception of Bornstein showed strong crossing ability. Also the defense was improved in the second half by the fact that the team starting playing strong team pressure over the entire field. This strategy might not work against the English, but it would probably help against the Slovenians and the Algerians.

The big names in terms of scoring came through in this match and looked dangerous. Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey scored, while Landon Donovan assisted on both goals. It is good news that the big time players are in form and showed some understanding amongst themselves. Finally, the US showed better passing and patience in the second half. We will need that composure to be successful in the World Cup.

While we won the game 2 to 1, the first half made me worried. We were playing at home, and we were not in sync. The team hasn’t had the opportunity to get synced up. I am not sure having one more game will be enough time for the US to get in sync. I suspect there will be real problems against England. Hopefully though, we will have it all together by the time we play against Slovenia. In any case what do you think of the US Team’s chances at this point?

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