The U.S. faces Turkey tomorrow in Philadelphia in its penultimate friendly before the start of the World Cup. The Turks brought a strong team, one that didn’t qualify for South Africa but made the Euro 2008 semifinals, so this is a good test for the home side.
Expect to see a reasonable facsimile of the eleven that will take the pitch against England in just more than two weeks time (two weeks! Squeeeee!). A better result will be expected than the 4-2 loss to Czech Republic in a game that featured mostly back-ups (and guys who got sent home).
Barring injury, only two starting slots are up for grabs. Either Ricardo Clark or Maurice Edu will line up alongside Michael Bradley in the central midfield (I think Clark stats tomorrow after Edu went 90 minutes against the Czechs). And who among the pool of inexperienced forwards will pair with Jozy Altidore up top?
So what will the U.S. team be looking to get out of the friendly? Cohesion, I suspect. Most national teams train together for such a short time that the learning curve is steep. In the team’s favor is their experience and familiarity with each other. We all saw how the team grew with each passing game in the Confederations Cup last summer. What will need to change is slow start the team had in that tournament.
Tactically, the game will be played without frills, partly because of that lack of training, but also to not unveil any surprises to the scouts of their World Cup opponents.
Since their runner-up performance in South Africa last summer, we haven’t seen the U.S. display that top-level form. Sure, they topped the qualifying group, but hardly looked like world-beaters in doing so. A good result against a solid Turkish side will give them the confidence they will need going forward.
And, you know, scoring a goal in the run of play would be nice, too.