Ghana’s World Cup opponents beat Turkey 2-1 in an international friendly played in New Jersey on Sunday evening.
The United States are currently on a string of games they are calling the Send-Off Series before going to Brazil. After beating Azerbaijan 2-0 last week, the Americans got goals from Fabian Johnson and Clint Dempsey.
Citi Sports editor Gary Al-Smith watched the game and picked some pointers
1. Forget the pessimism, Dempsey is okay
There had been hopeful murmuring in some media sections that the Americans’ talisman would have groin problems when Ghana face them on June 16.
Forget it. He’s fine.
Not just because he scored, but also because Dempsey’s work rate was impressive. If he felt any tightness in the groin, then by some miracle is did not show in his very physical play. Clint was in the mood for contact challenges and taking on defenders one-on-one.
But he seemed almost alone in doing that because Altidore was more concerned about ending his drought.
2. The Altidore conundrum
Yes, he has not scored for club or country since December 4th. Yes, getting into the World Cup means he has to step up.
But no, Jozy Altidore is not useless.
In their last game against Azerbaijan, the U.S. saw the Altidore who scored just one Premier League goal for Sunderland. It was that bad.
Against Turkey, he looked promising – making brainy runs, putting himself in good positions. But his finishing does need work.
To put Jozy’s nightmare in context, it is more likely that Fabian Johnson (a defender) will shoot past Adam Kwarasey in Ghana’s goal than the burly striker. Jozy had at least three one-on-one chances and fired straight at the keeper.
It’s a confidence issue and Ghana will hope he does not regain it until after the meeting in Natal.
Klinsmann said after the game: “This is the Jozy we want to see.”
Turkey coach Fatih Terim also singled out Altidore, as well as Bradley and Johnson, as having standout games. “Jozy’s a very powerful striker. The type of striker the center backs don’t like very much,” Terim said, lauding Altidore’s skills at holding the ball to incorporate teammates into the attack. “He’s a very important player.”
3. Johnson at right back works
“Fabian Johnson is a German-American footballer who plays as a left back for Bundesliga club 1899 Hoffenheim and United States national team.” – Wikipedia.
But on the evidence of this game, Ghana can think of Johnson as the American version of their own World Cup-bound Harrison Afful, who is as comfortable at right back as he is on the left.
Fabian scored a stunning goal after 26 minutes with a nearly unsavable inside-out shot on his left foot. However, it was his willingness to join the attack from the right back position and ability to meaningfully contribute on the wings as well as the middle third of the pitch helped him outshine his fellow starting full back.
4. Ghana can exploit Chandler at left back
If anyone needs a lesson in why a right-footed left back can be catastrophic, look no further than Timothy Chandler. Turkey quickly noticed his discomfort early on and pounded that side of the Americans’ defence. However, all indications show this may just be an experiment – in which case DaMarcus Beasley will definitely be used.
But if the USA do use him, Albert Adomah can be given the brief to handle that weakness. Or maybe Kwadwo Asamoah or Christian Atsu.
5. Bradley is the USA’s secret weapon
The son of the Americans’ former coach has grown into a lovely player. So lovely, that the USA seems to shut down when his engines are idle.
It may sound like an exaggeration, but if Ghana can nullify the former Italy-based midfielder (now plays in North America), that’s 80% of the job done.
Kwesi Appiah should watch how Azerbaijan muted Michael Bradley’s influence. The Asians simply swamped him.
Any time the 26-year old got the ball, two players blocked his vision. Bradley is good, but not in the league of, say, Xavi or Iniesta. With that in mind, get a player who will harass him but will not have physical contact (I’m thinking Rabiu Mohammed) and a quicker player to outrun him should he get past a marker (say, Agyemang-Badu).
Turkey, on Sunday, did not do this. They were willing to match him boot for boot, and he tore them apart.
Bradley’s gift is in his simplicity – a quick pass here, tidy a loose ball in the middle third of the field, timely passes to waiting players and the occasional brilliant flick.
6. Green is one to watch
A lot of US commentators say Julian Green, 18, is the reason why the most successful player in the country’s football history was axed from the World Cup squad.
True or false, Ghana may have to deal with this teen phenom. His attributes were immediately clear despite having limited time against Turkey – his wide movement brought width to the Americans’ play.
And importantly, his youth was complemented by a willingness to track back. Klinsmann could consider him a strong second-half sub to wear down a tiring Ghanaian defence, especially if Jozy Altidore and Dempsey have a good day.
Green isn’t as good as Landon Donovan, but he can be trouble.
All wasn’t well for the USA against Turkey and, like Ghana, they have a lot to do especially in defence before the two countries meet.
The win ensures the Jurgen Klinsmann’s team continued with their winning ways in their preparations towards the 2014 World Cup, and they will play Nigeria in their final warm up match on June 7.
United States XI: Howard (Guzan 45′), Johnson (Yedlin 63′), Cameron, Besler (Brooks 45′), Chandler, Zusi (Diskerud 69′), Jones (Beckerman 45′), Bradley, Davis (Green 63′), Altidore, Dempsey.
Goals: Johnson 26′, Dempsey 52′.
By: Gary Al-Smith/Citifmonline.com/Ghana