HARRISON, N.J. – With its first World Cup game scheduled for June 16 against Ghana, the U.S. men’s national team still has plenty of work to do.
During the second of three friendlies in its “Send-Off Series,” the United States scored the first two goals and then allowed a penalty kick in the 90th minute during a 2-1 win over Turkey on Sunday before a sellout crowd of 26,762 at Red Bull Arena.
The Americans opened the series Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan, No. 85 in the most recent FIFA rankings. Turkey came in ranked No. 39.
Both teams made several dangerous offensive runs in the first half Sunday. It was encouraging for the U.S. offense, but showed that the defense has to do a better job marking players.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he had to make some halftime adjustments to tighten up the defense.
“We needed to close the gaps a little better so we still have a lot of work ahead of us,” Klinsmann said. “(We needed to) make it more compact, more connected between the players and make it more difficult for opponents to come through.”
U.S. goalie Tim Howard, who played only the first half and set a U.S. record with his 54th win, wasn’t forced to make any spectacular saves, but Turkey kept him on his toes.
“We were narrow defensively and they sensed that and used the flanks,” Howard said. “They didn’t score (in the first half) but used the flanks well and were dangerous.”
The United States opened the scoring on a give-and-go goal by Fabian Johnson and Michael Bradley.
Bradley took a pass from Johnson and then chipped it over the defense. Johnson, rushing up from his outside back spot, one-timed Bradley’s pass inside the far post in the 26th minute.
“He played a good ball and his movement off ball and mobility is so good,” Bradley said of Johnson. “He shoved the ball inside to me and he kind of told me with the way he was running that he was going to keep running through.”
The Americans took a 2-0 lead when a Timmy Chandler cross that the Turkish defense failed to clear found Clint Dempsey, standing alone at the far post. Dempsey tapped it in under keeper Onur Recep Kivrak in the 52nd minute.
That meant that Dempsey has scored at least one goal in 10 consecutive years.
Turkey earned a penalty kick on a handball by center back Geoff Cameron, and Selcuk Inan converted in the 90th minute.