Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. Men’s National Team coaching staff watched the first half of Turkey’s last game, a friendly against Honduras in Washington, D.C., on the plane from San Francisco to New York City. The score was tied at 0-0 heading into halftime. Then the plane landed, and the staff and players had to leave.
If the flight had landed a bit later, Klinsmann might have had a glimpse right then and there on the challenge Turkey would present to the United States. Saint-Etienne striker Mevlüt Erdniç and Fenerbehçe defender Caner Erkin scored in Turkey’s 2-0 win against Los Catrachos, with both goals coming off defensive lapses that were immediately pounced upon by Turkey.
The meaning of this performance, especially as it relates to the U.S. back line, is not lost on Klinsmann.
“I think Turkey is an unpredictable team,” Klinsmann said on Friday. “They have a lot of individual skills and good players that can make a difference in half a second, as Honduras experienced, and before that Ireland, and many other teams before that. We need games that really keep us on our toes, especially for our back line, that really challenges them not to lose concentration and focus even for one moment.”
The USA’s defense has been a near-constant topic of conversation throughout the team’s World Cup preparations, with most of the talk centering around the team’s World Cup inexperience. Of the group, only one player (DaMarcus Beasley) has played in a World Cup, but even his time in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups came as a midfielder, not among the back four. The concern is that this inexperience could lead to miscues like the ones Honduras endured against Turkey. However, U.S. center back Matt Besler believes significant experience can be gained simply by becoming tighter on the training field.
“Anytime you are doing a back four drill, anytime you open it up into a scrimmage at the end of training, you take those opportunities very seriously,” Besler said. “You just try and work things out by feeling it, by experiencing it.”
Turkey’s attack will have plenty to keep Besler and his fellow defenders busy. Besides Erdinç, who is coming off a solid season in Ligue 1 with 12 goals in 31 appearances, Turkey also brings Burak Yilmaz, the Galatasaray forward who will be the team’s primary scoring threat if he starts. Yilmaz stands at 6-foot-2 and combines his size and physical power with a finishing touch that can either be delicate or powerful. Simply put, Yilmaz can be a handful for any defender in the world if he is on his game.
However, Turkey’s true strength lies in a trio of midfielders that can make plays in a variety of ways for Yilmaz, Erdinç or whoever else starts at forward on Sunday. In Arda Turan, Turkey has a left winger coming off a stellar title-winning season with Atlético Madrid. The team also boasts playmaking central midfielders Selçuk Inan and Nuri Sahin, a pair of midfield generals that will test the U.S. chemistry in the center of the park, whether it is the Michael Bradley-Jermaine Jones combo that started against Azerbaijan, or some other partnership.
“For me, one of the most important triangles you can have on the field is your two center backs and your holding midfielder,” Besler said. “The key is forming a good partnership. It’s playing off each other’s strengths and weaknesses and it’s being comfortable with each other.”
That strength in midfield will be supported with surging runs forward from right back Gökhan Gönül – a factor that could test the shape of whichever formation Klinsmann decides to use on Sunday.
“It doesn’t matter really whether you play a 4-4-2 diamond or a flat four in midfield or a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3. It’s the whole team, how it shapes up, how it works as an entire unit, how it attacks collectively and how it defends collectively,” Klinsmann said. “We wanted to start off a little bit easy with the Azerbaijan game. Now with Turkey, we really have a benchmark that will give us a little more insight into certain things.”
The stability of the U.S. defense is sure to be one of them.
CHICAGO (May 31, 2014) – A sellout crowd of more than 25,000 will be on hand when the U.S. Men’s National Team hosts Turkey on Sunday, June 1, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
The home stadium of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls will be the site of the USA’s second match of its three-game Send-Off Series in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Kickoff for Sunday’s game is at 2 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2, WatchESPN, Univision, Univision Deportes Network and ESPN Deportes Radio. Fans can also follow on Twitter @ussoccer.
The USA is coming off a 2-0 victory against Azerbaijan on May 27 in its first Send-Off Series match, powered by Yingli Solar. Second-half substitutes Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson provided the goals and Tim Howard tied a U.S. MNT record with his 53rd career victory, matching Kasey Keller’s career mark.
Following Sunday’s game, the USA wraps up its Send-Off Series against Nigeria on Saturday, June 7, at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision and ESPN Deportes Radio.
The U.S. is less than three weeks away from the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where the team will face Ghana (6 p.m. ET June 16), Portugal (6 p.m. ET on June 22) and Germany (12 p.m. ET on June 26) in Group G. All three games will be broadcast on ESPN and WatchESPN.
CHICAGO (Sept. 29, 2014) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will convene in Brasilia for a mid-October camp from Oct. 10-12highlighted by a match against Brazil’s U-23 national team on Monday, Oct. 13.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the invitation from the Brazilian Federation to play against their U-23 National Team,” said U.S. Soccer Technical Director Jurgen Klinsmann. “We have emphasized the need for this group to be together as much as possible, and to play against one of the best teams in the world will be a great benchmark for our players. They also get a chance to play in Brasilia, which is one of the host venues for the 2016 Olympics, and for many it will be a first taste of what the environment would be like for the tournament. We couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.”
The U-23 MNT roster for this international camp will be named in the coming days. The coaching staff for this trip, which coincides with the Senior National Team matches against Ecuador and Honduras, will include U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director and U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos, U-18 MNT head coach Javier Perez and MNT scout Matthias Hamann. Rob Vartughian will be the goalkeeper coach during the trip.
The camp serves as part of the preparation process for Olympic qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The USA last held a U-23 camp from Aug. 3-7 in Nassau, Bahamas that included a 5-1 victory against the Bahamas first team on Aug. 6.
CHICAGO (Sept. 29, 2014) – The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team will begin a new cycle with a training camp running from Oct. 12-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Head coach Michelle French has called 32 players, nearly all of whom were born in 1996 or 1997. This age group will be focusing on qualifying for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, which has an age cut-off of players born on or after Jan. 1, 1996.
The lone player born in 1998 is midfielder Mallory Pugh, who was a starter at age 16 during the most recent FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Being that the training camp takes place during the college season, there is only one current college player in the group in goalkeeper Rose Chandler, who is red-shirting her freshman year at Penn State. Chandler, as well as defender Kaleigh Riehl and midfielder Taylor Racioppi, were also on the USA’s 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Team that fell in penalty kicks to Korea DPR in the quarterfinal.
U.S. U-20 WNT Roster by Position:
DEFENDERS (9): Gabriella Carreiro (FC Stars of Mass; Upton, Mass.), Lucy Davidson (FC Portland; Warren, Ore.), Natalie Jacobs (Slammers FC; Coto de Caza, Calif.), Ellie Jean (Oakwood Soccer Club; Coventry, Conn.), Tegan McGrady (MVLA; San Jose, Calif.), Kaleigh Riehl (BRYC; Fairfax Station, Va.), Parker Roberts (KC Dynamos; Leawood, Kan.), Ally Watt (Pride Soccer Club; Colorado Springs, Colo.), Michelle Xiao (Gretna SC; Omaha, Neb.)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Alyssa Baumbick (Internationals Soccer Club; Avon Lake, Ohio), Betsy Brandon (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Marley Canales (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Katie Cousins (Richmond United; Forest, Va.), Julie James (Sting; Fairview, Texas), Courtney Petersen (Michigan Hawks; Canton, Mich.), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Taylor Racioppi (PDA; Ocean Township; N.J.), Marissa Viggiano (Michigan Hawks; Macomb Township, Mich.)
FORWARDS (10): Bridgette Andrzejewski (PSC Baltimore; Lutherville, Md.), Alissa Gorzak (Eclipse Select Soccer Club; Naperville, Ill.), Kelcie Hedge (Washington Premier FC; Post Falls, Idaho), Hana Kerner (Match Fit Academy FC; Upper Saddle, N.J.), Reilly Martin (Eclipse Select Soccer Club; Carmel, Ind.), Kayla McCoy (Sockers FC; Lincolnwood, Ill.), Leah Pruitt (West Coast FC; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), Zoe Redei (Eclipse Select Soccer Club; Highland Park, Ill.), Kelly Sweeney (Vardar; Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Kaycie Tillman (Sting; Rowlett, Texas)