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Sunday, June 1, 2014

USA defeats Turkey but questions remain

Photo credit: AP
It was a good game. A "wide-open game," remarked Klinsmann. The US Men's National team defeated Turkey at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey in its next-to-last sendoff game prior to the World Cup. 2-1 was a just score but it hides some important questions as the US heads to Brazil next week.

Julian Green or Landon Donovan
We all expect some magic from the youngster. We get flashes of fantasy and a good bit of speed. We have yet to see a dominant game from Green, and many American fans are starting to wonder whether  his inclusion in the final 23 was worth dropping Landon Donovan. We can imagine that Donovan would have made quite an impact had he come in in the second half versus turkey. Green came in but was not as large a factor.

Flat or diamond midfield
Jermaine Jones was exposed several times in the first half. He was also dominant. But that is his nature. There is no denying the prowess of the German-American's skill as a holding midfielder. But he is also a good box-to-box player and, in Klinsmann's diamond formation, lies right behind Bradley. This exposes the back line to attackers from the opposing side if Jones decides to go forward. His interchanges with Bradley sometimes fail to materialize and this could spell doom versus Ghana on June 16.

Can Beckermann be a better option? That's though to answer and validate, given Jones' illustrious career in Europe. But it comes down to what formation Jones is playing in and whether he can follow through.

The back line 
Fabian Johnson will likely start every game during the World Cup. He has proven time and again that he is reliable, consistent, and dangerous. Today he scored his first goal for the National Team and it was a beauty. He provided the type of dynamic flank performance required of the modern right back position. 

Timmy Chandler got his first start in 15 months and was fairly steady, except for the play that led to Turkey's goal. Cameron and Besler remained in the middle. This, by far, has looked like the steadiest group since the qualifiers. But does it come down to strength and quality in the back four? Alexi Lalas, the great American defender, argues that it's a lot more important to have good collective understanding and cohesiveness within the defensive corps. If this is to be the starting defense, then they had better hurry in understanding each other's moves and positioning.

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