World Cup: Tale of Two Halves/Teams

The United States finished off its Send-Off Series with an emphatic 2-1 come-from-behind victory. The Yanks started the match horribly and looked over matched by a very strong Turkish side. Turkey looked to be the aggressor in the first half and were clearly a step ahead with their passing and possession. The U.S. were overcrowded by the Turkish defense and were never able to get into a rhythm. Their game plan was so effective that Donovan and Feilhaber were limited to a few touches and never got into the flow of the game. The first half ended with Turkey up 1-0 and the outlook for how the Americans would do in the World Cup looking bleak… until the second half.

Bob Bradley needs to get credit for his inclusion of Robbie Findley. Yes, it’s still too early to judge, but Findley was a game changer that not only injected life into the U.S. side but also used his pace to stretch and cause problems for the Turkish back line. But the Man of the Match honor goes to Jose Torres. He was one of the Yanks’ better players against the Czechs and his second half substitution for Ricardo Clark into the game gave the U.S. a composed midfielder who wasn’t intimidated by the physical Turkey midfield. His distribution of the ball and ability to keep possession can not be praised enough. Where Clark was turning over the ball, Torres would be unbalancing defenders with feints and connecting passes.

There are still some concerns that the U.S. needs to address, but they can definitely build from this confidence building match. Here is a quick recap on how each player did:

The Grades

Player ratings: (1-10; 10 = best)

Tim Howard, goalkeeper, 6 — Very composed in goal and did well directing his back line. Could have done better on Arda Turan’s counterattack goal for Turkey. Made an acrobatic save to push a tricky shot with a lot of bend and pace over the crossbar to preserve the one goal lead.

Jonathan Spector, defense, 3 — Disappointing performance and appears to be losing his grip on keeping his place as a starter. Was beaten badly on several occasions and looked over matched. Did have a good run into the attacking third, but that left a huge hole on his side of the field which sprung Turkey’s only goal of the game.

Jay DeMerit, defense, 6 — Didn’t cover for Spector when he joined the attack and was largely to blame for Turan’s goal. Spent the first half chasing down Turkish forwards but did a much better job in the second half of closing down gaps and staying in front of his player. Will start against England.

Clarence Goodson, defense, 6.5 — Put in another solid performance. Was strong in the air and made a good case that he’s ready to jump into a starting role if Onyewu isn’t ready.

Carlos Bocanegra, defense, 6.5 — The Captain had a strong game in the left back spot and did well getting forward and joining the attack. There was a huge drop in quality once he left the game. Bocanegra has to feel the pressure that there is no player on the roster that can take his place. He needs to be fit and able to play a full 90.

Landon Donovan, midfield, 7.5 — Didn’t get nearly as involved as he needed to be in the first half. Wasn’t his fault, but would’ve liked to see him track back for the ball and impose his will on the game. Once Torres and Findley got into the game, Donovan was able to spring into the attack and delivered two great passes that led directly to both U.S. goals.

Michael Bradley, midfield, 8 — Did a great job playing the difficult role of a box-to-box midfielder. Tracked back extremely well to help the back line and his distribution was much better and a mark of his improvement as a player over the past year. Made a dangerous run into the box and did well to find Dempsey, but would’ve preferred to see him strike it instead. The team will depend on him to slow and disrupt Frank Lampard on June 12th.

Ricardo Clark, midfield, 4.5 — With Edu’s lifeless performance against the Czech Republic, the starting role next to Bradley in the center was open to auditions. It was Clark’s chance to step up and sadly he didn’t. Looked overwhelmed and unable to cope with Turkey’s midfield play. Turned the ball over far too easily when pressured and double teamed. Probably lost his chance to start.

Benny Feilhaber, midfield, 5 — Had a few good touches on the ball but was largely anonymous. Seemed to lack any creativity in the attack and nearly gifted the Turks with a goal with an errant pass early in the first half. Will need a good showing on June 5th against Australia to be considered for serious minutes.

Clint Dempsey, forward, 6.5 — Got his first start at forward paired with Altidore. Looked sloppy in the first half and didn’t seem ready to play. His switch in the midfield to start the second half made a tremendous difference. Looked lively and creative and did well to stick with the play and score the game winning goal.

Jozy Altidore, forward, 6 — Had a really nice run in the first half that showed the promise of the young forward. It showed off Altidore’s strength to hold off a defender, his skill to unbalance another defender and speed to blow by him. Will have to be at the top of his game to challenge England’s John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.

Subs:

Robbie Findley, forward, 7 — Could be the U.S.’ x-factor player come tournament time. Came on in the second half and immediately changed the flow of the game with dangerous runs and his speed clearly gave the Turkey backs fits. Distributed a great ball to Donovan, which led to the game tying goal. But his lack of playing time with the Senior team was evident as he failed to cross the ball quickly on a couple of occasions to the frustration of everyone in the box waiting for it.

Oguchi Onyewu, defense, 6 — A very steady performance. Clearly saw the problems the back line had with closing down defenders in the first half and addressed it by leading by example. Had a great block on a point blank shot on goal. Much better game compared to his last.

Jose Torres, midfield, 8.5 — Outstanding performance. His composure on the ball and vision was sublime. Did well tracking back and delivered some timely tackles. Showed that he really wanted to make an impression on the game by coming back all the way to the back line to collect passes. Nearly scored off a tricky free kick that skimmed off the post. Has to see major minutes in South Africa if the U.S. wants to advance.

Steve Cherundolo, defense, 6.5 — Made a very strong case for the starting right back spot. Was clearly a significant improvement over Spector. Did well to get involved in the attack with dangerous runs down the flank. Won several corners near the end of the game to keep the momentum with the Yanks and kill off some precious seconds.

Jonathan Bornstein, defense, 1.5 — Continues to prove that he is the most inept player on the roster. It doesn’t help that he has to jump in for Bocanegra during games, but it still doesn’t excuse the fact that he can’t defend a log. How he got burned twice in his 15 minutes of work by a player who had been playing the whole match is beyond me.

Stuart Holden, midfield, 6 — Did well to help close out the game. Wasn’t afraid to jump in late in the game and showed great willingness to do some dirty work. Will play a major role in South Africa.

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About Jason

Remote worker. Stats and analysis nerd. Soccer lover. View all posts by Jason

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