Match Report: USA 2 – Turkey 1

USA forward Jozy Altidore challenges Turkey's defender Servet Cetin during their international friendly soccer match in Philadelphia

A poor first half was redeemed by quality performances from substitutes and one inspired play by stars Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.

1st Half

Dempsey and Donovan combined in the first minute to set up a Donovan cross, which was unfortunately shanked out of play. For the next 20 minutes Turkey casually flicked passes around the pitch as the US struggled to find any possession. Finally beginning to exert some pressure, the US were victimized by a one-man counter in the 27th minute. Arda Turan found himself alone on the left flank after Jonathan Spector had made a run to the edge of Turkey’s box; the midfielder pushed forward and beat Jay DeMerit and a retreating Spector before sliding past Tim Howard. The goalkeeper was furious as Ricardo Clark, Michael Bradley, and DeMerit failed to fill the space Spector’s run had created.

USA began to see more of the ball as the half progressed, particularly after Donovan and Benny Feilhaber switched flanks (the former starting on the right) and subsequently stayed closer to the touchline. Their wing play earned a few corners and Donovan’s 32nd minute delivery should have resulted in a goal – Bradley headed the inswinger across the box but Clarence Goodson was fooled by his teammates’ touch and ended up shooing the ball away from the net. Ten minutes later, Jozy Altidore blew past 3 defenders and slid a pass to his fellow striker, but the touch was a bit heavy and an outstretched Dempsey couldn’t take advantage of the open net.

2nd Half

Second half subs Jose Torres (Clark), Robbie Findley (Feilhaber), and Steve Cherundolo (Spector) revitalized a stagnant US attack. Torres has always been regarded as an efficient passer, but against Turkey he also filled the defensive spaces Clark had left exposed, even ending Turkey counterattacks by dropping to left back. Replacing the ineffectual Spector, Cherundolo managed to help the attack while maintaining the defensive presence his predecessor lacked. Up top, Findley’s pace troubled opposing center backs, and though the Real Salt Lake striker didn’t always show the most intelligent of touches (he twice dribbled out of bounds), his beautifully lofted pass to Landon Donovan created the first US goal. Donovan tapped Findley’s chip past the keeper and slithered a pass between two defenders, finding a waiting Altidore.

The second tally was courtesy of the United States’ transcendent talents – Dempsey and Donovan. Following a throw-in, Landon cut to the middle of the pitch and hurried a pass to Dempsey, who used his thigh to tap the ball into the box, held off a defender, and slipped a shot underneath the keeper.

The substitutes’ quality play in addition to the sublime moment from Dempsey and Donovan was enough to hold off a few late Turkish chances.

Come back later tonight for a full tactical analysis.

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