Fresh off a most forgettable 2-0 victory on Tuesday against Azerbaijan, the US xeroxes its second game of the 2010 Send-off Series in 2010 and steps into the ring against a young, unproven Turkey side in New Jersey Sunday afternoon. The absence of John Harkes on the broadcast means the over-under on “Kearny, NJ” references drops to single digits. Here, here.
That was the moniker bestowed upon the 2010 US-Turkey World Cup warm-up match in Philadelphia. The US prevailed 2-1 in classic Bob Bradley rope-a-dope style.
It was an affair that saw some fundamental breakdowns in defense–primarily from Benny Feilhaber–including perhaps the most bewildering clearance attempt ever in a US shirt–and secondarily from Ricardo Clark which led to the lone US concession.
It also saw the love affair renew with the diminutive Torres whose efficient “three-touch” distribution display in the second half had fans drooling with possession potential for South Africa. (It was not to be though as Torres corkscrew pass attempts against an underrated Slovenia only led to turnovers and to his World Cup campaign being over after just 45 minutes. And those who say that Torres is the Mexican Xavi are probably okay when Spotify recommends Jesus Jones as a “you may be interested in” selection for U2.)
The 2010 match also saw Jonathan Spector exposed for speed on the right–and forever relegated to the bench by Bradley thereafter and the US deploy in a 4-2-3-1; a single forward set that fans were pining for at the time.
Ironically, the formation and deployment the States used on that day was a mirror image of what Jurgen Klinsmann would use through qualifying.
The US pushed high on the right side through Spector (in Stevie Cherundolo’s stead), Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore in the first half in a blueprint that mimicked the US pushing high and left through Beasley, Dempsey and Altidore throughout 2014. Graham Zusi plays the tucked-in shuttler role to protect the US rightback in 2014 and this was Landon Donovan’s role that day on the left to protect the less-than-nimble Carlos Bocanegra.
Of course, that formation gave way to Bradley’s battle-tested 4-2-2-2 when the US fell behind in the second half with Robbie Findley entering for the sacrificed Feilhaber. The US used Landon Donovan as the attacking conduit with Jose Torres the conductor as the US motored back to victory.
It’s a different tale nearly four years later. Bradley’s team had the Onyewu injury situation and a rather pedantic debate of wether to tab Maurice Edu or Ricardo Clark in midfield as its lone lightning rods.
(GRAPHIC DESIGN CREDIT: EDWARD GAUG)
The Yanks enter their 2014 match against the Crescent Moons with Landongate tailgating in their rearview mirror, a new diamond 4-4-2 formation and some second guessing over coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s tactics. That’s Chris Christie-approved drama right there.
And after much touting upon Klinsmann’s naming and being tried at five different positions including leftback (because anyone can play leftback), Jose Francisco Torres will not have a sequel Sunday–and will join the lift of misfit toys discarded by US fans that includes Charlie Davies, Edgar Castillo and more.
Much to prove and showcase as the Send-Off series really kicks off and Brazil is nigh.
Without further Freddy Adu, we get to our customary preview. As usual it goes:
⇒ About The Opponent: Turkey
⇒ TSG: What We’re Looking For
⇒ 11 At The Whistle
About The Opponent: Turkey
It was a tumultuous 2014 qualifying attempt for the once formidable side of Turkey–third place finishers at the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan.
In a 2014 group that included the Netherlands, Romania, Hungary, Estonia and Andorra, the Crescent Stars fell well short, like Garrincha short, of slipping themselves into a playoff for a potential UEFA World Cup spot.
If you’ve been following along with the previews here at TSG, then you’ve been exposed to the assessment that Turkey will ape Group G opponent Portugal in their style. However, the Turks appetite for the 4-3-3 isn’t as set as it once was.
The 4-3-3 was the formation the side used to run through the qualifying gauntlet under former manager Adbullah Avc1 who many identify as being the culprit behind Turkey’s failure to represent in Brazil.
New head man Fatih Terim–who has pinged back and forth between the national team job and skippering Galatasaray–is a long-time employer of the standard 4-4-2, however.
That said, with Turkey’s solid wide forward play and the developing skillset of rising moon Hakan Çalhanoğlu–whose name is buzzing around the transfer tabloids in association with Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and more–a 4-3-3 likely makes best use of the full complement of the Turkish roster. Indeed this is the formation that Terim’s side rolled out in Thursday night’s 2-0 win over World Cup-bound Honduras at RFK in DC.
As such, they’ll be–at minimum–the stand-in for Portugal in this preview.
The first such comparative here is Turkey’s UEFA record–the side did much better playing away in final qualifying than they did at home. No doubt this is due to the comfort level of playing on the counter where Turkey play their best soccer.
And like Paulo Bento’s static Portugal sides, the inverse is true as well; the squad has trouble when tasked with being the aggressor and facing other defend-deep-and-counter sides.
For Turkey, the attack will all–hopefully–start with Atletico Madrid’s Arda Turan, the slick-handles left winger who blazed up the US left flank in 2010 for the only goal conceded by the States that day.
Turan is coming off a rigorous club season that saw him miss out on the Champions League Final and has now been ruled out for Sunday. His replacement could be Ahmet Özek.