World Cup 2014: Part 5: USA-Turkey As It Happened + Player Ratings

Read my preview if you haven’t. It’s good.

USA. Turkey. New York, New Jersey. RedBull Arena. It gives you wings, and is called an “arena” so it sounds cooler (lamer?) than “stadium” or “field” or some other un-awesome (sane?) name like that.

Lineup of the Free (and the Home of the Bob Ley): Tim Howard; Timmy Chandler, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson; Jermain Jones, Brad Davis, Graham Zusi, Michael Bradley; Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore

Dempsey is healthy. Davis and Chandler get starts. Will they actually play in the diamond again? As I said in my preview, I hope not. (They do. Sigh.)

The Turkish Delights: Kivrak; Erkin, Balta, Dogan, Gonul; Camdal, Ozyakup, Inan, Sahin, Tufan; Erdinc

4-5-1. You know Nuri Sahin, right? Dortmund? Right there in the midfield.

1’ – It’s begun!

2’ – Both teams have tried some attacks, but they haven’t worked. Turkey just beat Honduras 2-0, while the US just beat Azerbaijan 2-0, but the US is better than Honduras and Turkey is better than Azerbaijan, so both of these teams will have to get accustomed to the higher quality of opposition.

5’ – Michael Bradley just went forward in a Lampard-esque goal-scoring-midfielder way. Zusi couldn’t hit the cross right, but it would’ve been an open chance at a goal if he would’ve. An open chance at goal for Bradley. It’s a strange new world.

7’ – What a great long ball by Zusi! Dempsey collects, goes right, and tries to chip, deflection, to the goalkeeper. Not sure if Deuce was trying to score or cross to Altidore, but that was a good move.

8’ – Very poor mis-clearence by Jermaine Jones. Howard saves the chance. If Jones does that against one of the Group G teams, we’re all dead.

8’ – Altidore with the hold-up play, layoff to Dempsey, nifty touch for Bradley, but the attack gets suffocated by Turkey.

9’ – Dempsey, what a spin move! He gets it in between the Turkish defender’s legs! The goalkeeper got it, but that was another example of why Clint Dempsey is one of the best US players ever. Most American players would never try something like that.

12’ – Foul by Cameron near the corner. The free kick doesn’t come to much.

12’ – Chance for the bad guys! Poor marking by the US, nice emergency defending by Besler, and the shot, by Sahin, goes wide. I know I sound like a broken record, but there are about 25 guys on the Ghanaian, Portuguese, and German rosters that can make that shot.

14’ – More nice hold-up play by Altidore, and he wins a corner. He’s been good to start this game.

15’ – Corner, Besler header, Altidore!!! GOO–wait, no! Foul? Yes, foul! I’m not sure where the foul is, though. This just in: phantom foul disallows Altidore goal! Hopefully he can gain confidence from that play nonetheless.

18’ – Poor defensive header by a Turk, Dempsey collects, nice move to evade one Turk, but he can’t evade the other to get into the box.

20’ – Inan gets a great chance for Turkey! Not sure how he misses that, but I’m even more unsure how neither Cameron nor Johnson gets that.

21’ – Bradley takes the ball, goes forward, Altidore, back to Bradley, HE SHOOTS, blocked!

23’ – Both teams are looking active and promising in attack, while both teams are also looking horrific in defense. There have been many chances for both teams. If the US does this in the World Cup, I will be on the floor drooling and crying and making unintelligible noises by the Germany game.

26’ – Fabian Johnson, nice run, pass to Bradley, touch, RETURN PASS TO JOHNSON, GOOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLL!!!!!! EEEEFFFF-JJJAAAAAAYYYYY!!!!

28’ – Incredible chip pass, incredible half-volley finish, what a goal! That Michael Bradley pass is one of the many things he has in his arsenal. Not only can he win balls in midfield, he can do Pirlo-like regista passing, he can score goals when given the chance, and he can create tons of chances. He’s the closest thing this team has to Yaya Toure.

35’ – The US has adopted a new defensive system for set pieces. It’s now a hybrid of man-marking and zonal-marking. I think that hybrids are the way to go, because there are positives and negatives for each system (the negatives of man-marking were displayed by the US against Mexico, while the negatives of zonal marking are displayed over and over again in all world-wide soccer).

37’ – Altidore fouled, advantage played, Dempsey, TAKEN DOWN, no call! I’m not sure, but that looked a bit like a PK and red card. Oh, and one of the Turkish players ran into the referee’s hand, and got hurt. He’s okay now, I think.

41’ – Corner, Davis, goalkeeper collects.

42’ – Nice ball won by Jermaine Jones. He hasn’t been great in possession, but he’s done well in winning balls and staying in that D-mid role. I think that’s another reason of why to play Bradley a little deeper, so that Jones has a safe passing target.

44’ – Matt Besler has played fairly well this half. I’m glad. He’s probably the best defender in the US team (well, FJ’s good, too, and Cameron is probably the best at club level) and if he can have good form going into the World Cup, it will be highly valuable to the team.

45+2’ – Nice half for a neutral. But I’m not a neutral, and I can recognize that that was terrifying defensively. But mouth-watering offensively.

46’ – Three subs. Guzan for Howard: I like this one. You need to give the back-up goalkeeper some minutes in case he needs to play. Beckerman and Brooks on for Jones and Besler: nice to see these guys get some serious minutes after not playing in the first friendly.

49’ – Free kick Turkey. Cleared away.

52’ – Cross by Timmy Chandler, Turkey easily clears NO THEY DON’T! GOOOOOOOOOAAALLL!!!! DEEEUUUUUUCCCCE!!!!!!

53’ – Terrible defending by Turkey, but a goal is a goal. I’m not sure, however, that the US is getting those chances against Portugal and even Ghana, and definitely not Germany.

54’ – Clear handball by Brad Davis, but the refs don’t call it, and he crosses to Zusi, who hits the side-netting from a very tight angle.

56’ – I was just thinking while one of the Turkey players is now down injured: the US has played 3 different center-back pairings during the World Cup: Besler-Cameron, Besler-Gonzalez, and Brooks-Cameron. All of them have a left-footed player and a right-footed player. So I think that that was the idea when the team was selected: two lefties (Besler and Brooks) and two righties (Cameron and Gonzalez). So I guess that Brooks didn’t beat out right-footed Goodson, but Gonzalez and Cameron beat out Goodson, while Brooks beat out Tim Ream.

59’ – I’m not sure why Timmy Chandler was tucked in so much. Turkey just had a great chance, while Brad Guzan saved the shot. Chandler looks like he hasn’t been playing with the team in over a year. Why? Because he hasn’t!

63’ – Here comes DeAndre Yedlin for Fabian Johnson, while Brad Davis is coming off for…JULIAN GREEN!!!! #GreenWatch2014

66’ – Great run from Julian Green down the left, even better cross by Graham Zusi to Green, but the Bayern prospect messes up the first touch while in the box.

69’ – Zusi comes off for Mix Diskerud, the creative Super-Sub. That’s the last substitution, so it means that neither Jóhannsson nor Bedoya will see the field today.

71’ – Nice pass by Diskerud while falling down, but Altidore cannot gather it without fouling his opponent.

77’ – Good clearance by Brooks. He’s played well. This is why I put him into a different category that Green and Yedlin; I think he earned his spot on merit, more or less, instead of hype.

79’ – Wonderful pass from Bradley to Altidore, Jozy is left of the goal, passes to Diskerud, Turkey closes down, Mix passes to Green, and Turkey closes down on him, too. The whole thing comes to nothing.

81’ – Good pass by Diskerud, Altidore cuts in, shoots, saved.

83’ – Skillful save by Guzan. He’s not as good as Tim Howard, but Brad Guzan is, like, really good.

88’ – Poor giveaway by Chandler, and Cameron does a hand-ball on the goal-line. Clear penalty kick, and it’s called. That would normally be a red card, but in this case Cameron gets nothing. It’s a friendly.

88’ – I’d really prefer DaMarcus Beasley playing at left-back, because Chandler seems quite error-prone.

89’ – Penalty is scored! Guzan guessed right, but it was very, very well-taken.

90+5’ – Final whistle. The US wins 2-1.

The team was better in this game than in the Azerbaijan one, at least in the attack. But they looked poor defensively and were fortunate to only concede one goal.

Player Ratings

They were less mediocre than in San Francisco. It’s progress.


0-2: Hide the women and children (horrifying).

2-4: Open the windows (bad).

4-6: Average.

6-8: You get a cookie (good)!

8-10: You get a whole cake (superb)!

Here we go (remember, these are my opinions, and I am not a scout or coach or even a professional broadcaster or analyst. I’m a blogger. However, I am using the Opta Chalkboard to help out):

6.5 Tim Howard – three saves. No goals conceded. Another quality game from the best player on the team.

6.0 Matt Besler – he had some nice blocks and interceptions, and he didn’t give the ball directly to the opponent in his own half. Sure, you could argue that his good defensive play was all emergency defending, but I thought he did well overall. Oh, and he didn’t commit a single foul in his 45 minutes of play.

5.0 Geoff Cameron – he wasn’t terrible, and you can’t really blame the penalty on him (what’s he going to do? Just let it go in?), but he certainly wasn’t great either. Remember, 5.0 is my average.

4.0 Timothy Chandler – maybe 4.0 is a bit harsh, but he wasn’t quite creative going forward, and he was error-prone in defense. Poor teamwork, lethargic play, especially in the last 20-30 minutes. I’d MUCH rather see DaMarcus Beasley.

7.0 Fabian Johnson – I’m looking at the Opta data for Chandler and Johnson’s passing, and I notice something interesting: Johnson’s passes are all slightly further up the field that Chandler’s.  The result? Chandler had 3 unsuccessful passes in his own half, while Johnson had none. See, Fabian Johnson is good in defense, good in attack, and he’s smart. Oh, and the goal he scored was brilliant.

6.5 Jermaine Jones – opinion is very highly divided on Jermaine Jones. In my opinion he’s a good player, but he’s been going too far forward, and he’s too Jermaine Jones-y (i.e. he does stuff that makes you go AAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!). While I’ve been critical of the diamond, it’s kept Jones in a better position. He’s still Jermaine Jones-y, but in behind Bradley he’s mainly just a ball-winning machine. It didn’t show much against Azerbaijan, but as I said it would it showed against Turkey, and it will definitely show in the World Cup.

7.0 Michael Bradley – Man of the Match in my opinion. He was just a bit further back than he was against Azerbaijan, and it helped. He controlled the game more, instead of trying to force the issue. He was more active alongside Jones. See, the partnership between Jones and Bradley has been at best awkward and at worst disastrous, while on paper you’d think they’d be perfect together, with Jones as the destroyer and Bradley as the box-to-box jack-of-all-trades, master-of-most. But it’s just now that they’re figuring out how to work together, and I like what I see. The General and the Secretary of Defense (you like? I like).

4.5 Brad Davis – I was mostly impressed by the US attack, but they seemed a bit weak on the wings. And I’m not going to mention Landon Donovan, even though he’s still better than a lot of this 23. Davis didn’t play the whole game, but he seemed ineffective.

5.0 Graham Zusi – he seemed ineffective for a lot of the game, too, but he had a few good quality passes.

6.5 Clint Dempsey – a good thing, in my opinion, about moving Michael Bradley into a more withdrawn role, is that Dempsey has more space to do stuff. Which is what he did for a good bit of that game. He was fairly active, getting in to dangerous areas, even if it didn’t lead to much. He gets a half-point for that goal, even though it was a tap-in he still needed to be in the right place at the right time, which he was.

6.5 Jozy Altidore – lots of people criticize him for not scoring a goal since December, and while that isn’t good and he still didn’t score, he did everything else. He got into good positions, and his hold-up play, which will be vital, as I’ve said before, was good as well.


6.5 Brad Guzan – I’m happy that they gave him a half, because there is a slight chance that he will need to play. He made three saves, and the only goal he conceded was a very well-taken penalty that he guessed right on. Good game from the #2 goalkeeper.

6.5 Kyle Beckerman – good game from Beckerman. Only one unsuccessful pass, and it was in the opponents’ half. He’s not flashy or anything, but he’s solid. Someone with the athleticism of Jones and the mind of Beckerman would be great. Add the skill of Diskerud and you have Michael Bradley, more or less.

6.0 John Anthony Brooks – he wasn’t perfect, and you could argue that his quality defending was just a result of being in the wrong place, but I thought he did quite well.

5.0 DeAndre Yedlin – the young right-back didn’t have much time to mess up, and he didn’t. I still don’t want to see him get any World Cup playing time, though. I think I’d rather see Chandler than him.

3.5 Julian Green – can you guess how many times he completed a pass in the attacking third? Not one single time. Only once did he complete a pass in the attacking half, and that was backwards. I wish that Opta tracked “randomly falling down.” The chalkboard would explode. I kept waiting for him to do something good. Nope. He looked like a boy amongst men, because he is. And he’s supposed to be “a little bit better” than Landon Donovan? Yeah, right. Either he was bribed a spot, or Klinsmann is delusional.

5.0 Mix Diskerud – he didn’t have much time to put his imprint on the game. He did some good stuff, but nothing really to move the needle. Still one of my favorite players, and someone who I think can make a difference off the bench in Brazil.


Stay tuned for more World Cup and pre-World Cup stuff. I’ll also do something if New York City FC get David Villa and/or Frank Lampard this summer (according to my sources it’s a very good chance they’ll get at least one of them). All of it here on Daniel’s Soccer Emporium, your home for adults kicking stuff.


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