USA continued their FIFA World Cup™ preparations with a 2-1 triumph over Turkey on Sunday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
German-born Fabian Johnson, one of coach Jurgen Klinsmann's army of young, dual-citizenship footballers, made his first strike for the Stars and Stripes an impressive one, combining with United States veteran Michael Bradley for a superb 26th-minute goal that gave the Americans a 1-0 lead.
Clint Dempsey exploited a lapse in the Turkish defense to double the score in the 52nd minute. Klinsmann took advantage of the match to give Brad Guzan, backup to starting keeper Tim Howard, some time on the pitch. Guzan was in front of goal for the second half, and when Turkey pulled one goal back in the 90th minute with a penalty by Selcuk Inan.
"Overall what we expected - a Turkish side that can create problems for you any time," Klinsmann said. "Already in the first half, they exploited us here and there. But overall I think it was a good game. It was quite an open game."
The match was the United States' second friendly since Klinsmann announced his 23-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil - shocking many by the omission of all-time leading US scorer Landon Donovan.
They defeated Azerbaijan 2-0 last Tuesday and will take on Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida, next Saturday before departing for Brazil.
The United States are drawn in Group G along with Ghana, who reached the quarter-finals in the 2010 edition, UEFA EURO 2012 semi-finalists Portugal and one of the favourites for the trophy - Klinsmann's native Germany.
Turkey didn't qualify for the World Cup, but Klinsmann said they were a talented side that offered a good "benchmark" for his team heading into the global football showcase.
The visitors, who beat World Cup-bound Honduras 2-0 in a friendly in Washington on Thursday, had a few good chances in the opening half as the US defence struggled to get organized. The best opportunity came in the 12th minute when Nuri Sahin found space 16 yards from goal and fired a low shot off the outside of the post.
But the American attack gathered steam and produced a quality opening goal. Johnson played the ball to Bradley, whose chip released Johnson into the area and allowed him to fire a shot just inside the left post.
Dempsey made Turkey pay in the second half when they failed to clear Timmy Chandler's left-wing cross, tapping in from a few yards out.
Turkey did find the net, however, after Geoff Cameron's handball on his own goal line gave Inan the chance from the spot.
In addition to Guzan, Klinsmann brought in John Brooks and Kyle Beckerman at half-time. He praised Jermaine Jones' effort in the defensive midfield role, but said the starting line-up left Turkey too much room to manoeuvre.
"We need to close the gaps up better, so we still have a lot of work ahead of us to become more compact, more connected between the players to make it more difficult for the opponents to come through there," Klinsmann said.
Added Howard: "They spread us out. Obviously we defended narrow and they spread us out so we had to make some adjustments.
"To have those changes in the back-line at half-time is never easy, but I thought (John Brooks) came in and played really well," Howard added. "We almost had a clean sheet, and the penalty takes the gloss off it a little bit, but I thought we played well."
US striker Jozy Altidore's goal drought continued, but Klinsmann said he was pleased with his aggression. "It is the Jozy that we want to see," Klinsmann said. "He will, sooner or later, break through with goals. It's just you've got to work for it and stay hungry and grind it out, and sooner or later it's time and 'boom' it's in the net."