Greetings, everyone. This is my preview of the United States’ clash with Turkey. (Stay tuned for a review hopefully later today.)
Facts about Turkey
Obviously, because this is a soccer blog, I will start with my one non-soccer-specific segment.
Population: 76,667,864 (slightly more than the US states of California, Texas, Michigan, and Kentucky combined.)
2013 GDP estimate: $821 billion (17th in the world–the US is first.)
Turkey is very much the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and the culture is a mix of both. The US culture is like a mix of everything.
The 6th-largest city in Turkey is called Gaziantep. I wish I lived in a place called “Gaziantep.”
Facts about the Turkish National Team
This is more like it!
Nickname: The Crescent-Stars
Head Coach: Fatih Terim (this is the 60-year-old’s third spell of coaching Turkey, the first beginning in 1993; he’s also had three spells of coaching Galatasaray, one of Turkey’s biggest clubs.)
FIFA ranking: 38
2014 World Cup Qualifying result: failed (third in their group behind the Netherlands, Romania, and Hungary.)
Bizarre fact: since being eliminated from the 2000 Euros, they’ve made the semifinals of each major competition they’ve qualified for (2002 World Cup, 2003 Confederations Cup, 2008 Euros). Isn’t that crazy?
Last meeting between the two teams: 2010 send-off series, USA won 2-1.
If there’s a Group G team they play most like, it’s Portugal.
Players Under Pressure
Who needs to come up big in New Jersey?
In the last game, both Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez played fairly mistake-free, but they weren’t tested. Matt Besler is considered the steadiest of the group, but he looked the worst on Tuesday, so you could definitely say that the three players are now about level in the US Center-back Power Rankings. Assuming that Brooks doesn’t start, three centerback parings are possible (note: if you count that Cameron can play RB, there are 51 possible back 4s the US can line up in counting all 8 defenders) and whichever shows the best in training and in the friendlies will most likely get the lion’s share of World Cup minutes.
Why do you think that Chris Wondolowski was selected over Aron Jóhannsson to replace Clint Dempsey? Was it because Wondo is higher on the depth chart than The Iceman? No, of course not. It was because Jóhannsson is considered a Super-Sub by US coach Jürgen Klinsmann, and thus he rarely ever starts, so that he can get experience coming off the bench. Or at least that is my highly-plausible theory. Draw your own conclusions, but I think I’m right.
Wondo did well, I thought, in the first half, but he certainly could’ve done better with the finishing. Klinsmann will still remember his success in recent US games, but the Earthquakes striker can greatly maximize his World Cup playing time with good performances.
No, he isn’t competing for playing time. He played every minute in 2010 and it’s a good bet he’ll do so again in 2014. But he was shaky against Azerbaijan (the #10 role just isn’t for him at all) and if he can light it up in these next friendlies, it can maintain certainty for the US in what has been a cycle of uncertainty; that wherever you are, you can pass to Bradley and the world won’t blow up.
It’s a fact that I like to repeat that Jozy Altidore doesn’t need to score. He needs to hold up the ball while the rest of the US–in a defensive position because, duh, they’re up against Ghana, Portugal, or Germany–charges forward. But, he has shown in the past that he can find the back of the net himself, and it would certainly be very helpful for him to be in goalscoring form for the World Cup after a gloomy one-league-goal season with Sunderland.
The Houston Dynamo left-footed, left-sided winger did quite well against Azerbaijan, and if he can continue that here he will be in contention with Zusi and Bedoya for a starting spot.
Things to Look For
While you watch the game, think of these points:
–What is the formation?
It will either be a 4-4-2 diamond or a 4-2-3-1, unless it’s a flat 4-4-2, which would be a surprise. Everyone’s been ooh-ing and aah-ing about the diamond, and talking about how Klinsmann will definitely play a diamond at the World Cup, but I still don’t buy it. He did it against Mexico’s A- or B+ team, and against Azerbaijan. It doesn’t mean he’ll do it against Germany.
Truthfully, I don’t like the idea of the diamond. I prefer Clint Dempsey where he has a bit more freedom to roam, and I prefer Michael Bradley further back where he can defend more effectively and control the attack where he chooses, instead of being forced into being the playmaker. Also, having only one holding midfielder is a horrifying prospect against the group G opponents. Don’t get me wrong, I like the diamond generally, but a 4-2-3-1 is much better for this team right now.
–Who is playing?
Is Klinsmann giving a chance to shine to Davis, Diskerud, or Jóhannsson? Is he benching any significant players? Who are his subs? Where are Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler playing if they even play at all? Who are the center-backs?
–How are they playing?
Are they pressing high or playing for the counter? How are the full-backs positioned? What about Jermaine Jones? Clint Dempsey? Don’t just look at how Turkey is responding, but think about how Ghana, Portugal, and Germany will respond. Because the World Cup is what matters.
It’s a friendly, so the prediction doesn’t matter, but I’ll give one anyway:
USA 2-2 Turkey
US Goals: Dempsey, Jóhannsson
US Assists: Altidore, Bedoya
As I said, I’ll make a review after the game. Add your own predictions and thoughts in the comments below (but make sure it’s G-rated, as this is a family-friendly site). And remember, during the World Cup and after, stay tuned to Daniel’s Soccer Emporium, your home for adults kicking stuff.