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.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 20, 2014) – The U.S. Women’s National Team is one victory away from booking its spot in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
USA all-time goal scoring leader Abby Wambach scored two goals and the United States soundly defeated Haiti 6-0 at RFK Stadium to earn first place in Group A and a top seed heading into the semifinals of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. The U.S. will face the Group B runner-up on Friday, Oct. 24, at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Morgan Brian each scored a goal, and defender Meghan Klingenberg added her first international tally.
The top three teams in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship earn automatic qualification to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, while the fourth-place team enters a two-leg playoff against South American third-place finisher Ecuador for the final berth.
The USA’s semifinal opponent will be determined Tuesday with the conclusion of Group B play, and the U.S. WNT will take on the runner-up from that group. Costa Rica (2-0-0, 6 points) currently holds the top spot, followed by Mexico (1-1-0, 3 points) and Jamaica (1-1-0, 3 points). Martinique (0-0-2, 0 points) is in last place, but could not qualify for the semifinal stage anyway as it is not recognized as a FIFA country.
Trinidad & Tobago was the Group A runner-up, holding off Guatemala for a 2-1 win earlier Monday to conclude the group stage with a 2-1-0 record and six points. Trinidad & Tobago will face the Group B winner in the semifinals.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Carli Lloyd, 9th minute: USA left back Meghan Klingenberg crossed the ball to the top of the six-yard box, where Abby Wambach and Haiti goalkeeper Geralda Saintilus met for a 50-50 challenge. Saintilus stepped in front of the pass and batted it away; however, she was unable to clear the ball out of the box and was well off her line when the USA retained possession. Lloyd collected the deflection, chested down to her foot and slotted into the net for her second goal of the tournament. USA 1, HAI 0
USA – Abby Wambach, 38th minute: Christen Press cut to her left foot and lofted a dangerous ball into the middle of the box with Wambach running straight at the goal. Haiti defender Roselord Borgella stretched with her right foot to intercept, but instead of clearing the danger, the deflection stayed in line with Wambach’s run. The all-time goal scoring leader headed the ball into the net without breaking stride to push the USA lead to two heading into halftime. USA 2, HAI 0
USA – Meghan Klingenberg, 57th minute: Second-half sub Heather O’Reilly brought some high energy from the right flank and had ample space on this sequence to cross into the box. Haiti’s defense cleared the ball about eight yards above the box, where Klingenberg stepped up with a laser of a right-footed shot that was out of the reach of Saintilus and into the right side of the frame. It was Klingenberg’s first goal in 19 international games. USA 3, HAI 0
USA – Abby Wambach (Carli Lloyd), 60th minute: Lloyd won the header at the top of the box and her pass found its way between two Haiti defenders at the edge of the six, where Wambach volleyed it home with her right foot past Saintilus. With her brace, Wambach now leads the U.S. WNT with 10 goals in 2014. USA 4, HAI 0
USA – Christen Press, 65th minute: A couple minutes after they entered the match Sydney Leroux and Morgan Brian created the USA’s next scoring chance, with Leroux crossing from the right side and Brian redirecting the ball to the top of the six-yard box. Haiti’s defense once again got a deflection but could not clear, and Press rushed a left-footed shot into the left side of the goal. USA 5, HAI 0
USA – Morgan Brian (Christen Press), 82nd minute: Press dribbled to the end line to elude her defender and crossed toward the penalty spot, where Brian shot from about eight yards out into the right side of the frame. It was Brian’s third goal in 14 appearances. USA 6, HAI 0 (FINAL) (Highlights)
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
HAI – Geralda Saintilus, 5th minute: Just several minutes after Carli Lloyd saw a goal disallowed because of an offside call, the USA attacked again with veteran striker Abby Wambach threatening the net. Wambach struck left-footed from the left side of the box, searching for the far right post. Saintilus secured the save on the low attempt and did not allow a rebound to keep the match scoreless in the early stages.
USA – Whitney Engen, 33rd minute: The USA had a bad giveaway in midfield that opened a window for Haiti. Marie Jean Pierre collected the loose ball and rushed toward the net. The U.S. WNT’s back line recovered and Engen blocked Jean Pierre’s shot attempt a couple yards outside the area.
HAI – Geralda Saintilus, 72nd and 74th minutes: In the first of these sequences, Sydney Leroux nearly had a highlight reel effort when she attempted a diving header on Heather O’Reilly’s cross from the right. Though Leroux missed on the header, the ball fell to her between a pair of Haiti defenders and Leroux managed to get a left-footed shot off, only to have Saintilus come away with the save. Two minutes later, O’Reilly threatened the net, and her attempt deflected off of a defender and was headed to the right side of the frame. Saintilus dove to her left to again limit the damage of the USA’s heavy attack.
- Abby Wambach added to her all-time goal scoring record, notching goals No. 172 and 173 of her 226-game international career.
- Wambach scored her 13th and 14th goals in World Cup qualifying, passing Mia Hamm (12) for second place on the USA’s all-time list. Michelle Akers holds the U.S. WNT record with 17 goals in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
- Wambach made her 12th appearance in a World Cup qualifying match, which ties her with Julie Foudy and Hamm for second on the U.S. WNT’s all-time list. Kristine Lilly is the USA’s all-time leader with 17 games in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
- Carli Lloyd scored the 53rd goal of her career, tying Carin Gabarra (53 goals from 1987-96) for eighth-place on the U.S. WNT all-time goal scoring list. Lloyd is the WNT’s top scorer among players who have exclusively played as midfielders.
Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. WNT will face the Group B runner-up in the semifinals of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship on Friday, Oct. 24, at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Broadcast information: FOX Sports 1 and multi-platform devices via FOX Sports GO, FOX Soccer 2GO and FOXSportsGo.com.
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_wnt; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram
- The USA is now 13-2-3 in 2014.
- The U.S. WNT is 4-0-0 all-time against Haiti. The USA has outscored Haiti 29-0 in its four meetings.
- U.S. head coach Jill Ellis made five changes to her starting lineup following the team’s 5-0 victory against Guatemala. Three changes were on the defensive side of the ball, including the first start of the tournament for goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. Harris earned her fourth-career cap and her second of 2014.
- The back line included two returning starters in left back Meghan Klingenberg and center back Whitney Engen. Kelley O’Hara got the call ahead of Ali Krieger at right back, and center back and team captain Christie Rampone returned to the starting lineup after sitting out the Guatemala match. Rampone is now one cap away from 300 for her career.
- The USA’s midfield remained unchanged from the Guatemala game with returning starters Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe.
- The front three of the USA’s 4-3-3 formation included returning starter Tobin Heath, fresh off her two-goal effort against Guatemala, along with Abby Wambach and Christen Press. Wambach had started and scored the lone goal in the USA’s 1-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago and sat out the Guatemala game. Press was a first-half sub for Alex Morgan when she injured her ankle against Guatemala.
- Heather O’Reilly entered the game to start the second half, replacing Rapinoe.
- After the USA pushed its lead to four goals, Ellis utilized her final two subs with Sydney Leroux replacing Wambach in the 62nd minute and Morgan Brian entering for Heath in the 63rd minute. Brian made her first appearance in the tournament.
- The USA could have added to its lead on several occasions, the most noteworthy being Sydney Leroux’s 80th-minute shot ricocheting off the right post.
- Press is now the only USA player to have made an appearance in all 18 games this year.
- Harris earned her first-career clean sheet in four appearances.
- The U.S. WNT is now 88-8-13 in the 109 games that Rampone has been the team captain.
- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Haiti
Date: Oct. 20, 2014
Competition: 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship
Venue: RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 62 degrees, cool
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 4 6
HAI 0 0 0
USA – Carli Lloyd 9th minute
USA – Abby Wambach 38
USA – Meghan Klingenberg 57
USA – Abby Wambach (Carli Lloyd) 61
USA – Christen Press 65
USA – Morgan Brian (Christen Press) 82
USA: 18-Ashlyn Harris; 5-Kelley O’Hara, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 6-Whitney Engen, 16-Meghan Klingenberg; 12-Lauren Holiday, 10-Carli Lloyd, 15-Megan Rapinoe (9-Heather O’Reilly, 46); 14-Christen Press, 20-Abby Wambach (2-Sydney Leroux, 62), 17-Tobin Heath (7-Morgan Brian, 63)
Subs Not Used: 1-Hope Solo, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 11-Ali Krieger, 19-Julie Johnston
Head Coach: Jill Ellis
HAI: 1-Geralda Saintilus; 4-Kencia Marseille (capt.), 6-Kimberly Boulos (8-Kensie Bobo,56), 9-Lindsay Zullo, 11-Woodlyne Robuste (10-Wisline Dolce, 60), 13-Marie Jean Pierre, 14-Samantha Brand, 15-Shanna Hudson (3-Generve Charles, 84), 17-Yvrose Gervil, 18-Roselord Borgella, 19-Clorene Rateau
Subs Not Used: 2-Natacha Cajuste, 5-Dieunise Jean Baptiste, 7-Manoucheka Pierre-Louis, 12-Cynthia Chery, 16-Sindy Jeune, 20-Schmid Charles
Head Coach: Shek Borkowski
Stats Summary: USA / HAI
Shots: 20 / 1
Shots on Goal: 12 / 0
Saves: 0 / 6
Corner Kicks: 12 / 0
Fouls: 7 / 6
Offside: 6 / 1
Referee: Quetzali Alvarado (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Mayte Chavez (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Stacy-Ann Greyson (JAM)
Fourth Official: Maurees Skeete (GUY)
Budweiser Woman of the Match: Lauren Holiday