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May 29, 2010

U.S. rallies past Turkey in sendoff match

Associated Press
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ESPNews Highlight Of The Night: USA Wins
USA come from behind to beat Turkey 2-1 in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- American players lingered on the field, waving to adoring red-white-and-blue clad fans. They hope to be making a similar victory lap when games count next month.

Landon Donovan set up second-half goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, leading the United States over Turkey 2-1 on Saturday in the Americans' last exhibition before leaving for South Africa.

"We're going to be as good as we want to be," Donovan said. "And if we play the way we're capable of playing, we can beat a lot of teams in the world."

Arda Turan put the Turks ahead in the 27th minute on a counterattack after right back Jonathan Spector was dispossessed upfield.

Altidore tied the score in the 58th minute and Dempsey put the U.S. ahead in the 75th before an overwhelmingly pro-American crowd of 55,407 at Lincoln Financial Field.

"We were a little bit rusty at times," Altidore acknowledged.

The Americans depart Sunday for South Africa and meet Australia in a last friendly on June 5, one week before their World Cup opener against England. U.S. coach Bob Bradley used something approaching a first-choice lineup, far different from the backup-filled 11 he put on the field for Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic in East Hartford, Conn.

Bradley has put the team through lengthy conditioning since players gathered May 17. Now, the running and weightlifting will ease.

"I think we accomplished everything that we would have wanted here," Bradley said. "The type of game we were in today pushed them very hard."

Dempsey was paired at forward with Altidore in the first half, then dropped back to midfield when Robbie Findley replaced midfielder Benny Feilhaber at the start of the second. The U.S. lagged in the first half, but Findley, midfielder Jose Torres and defenders Oguchi Onyewu and Steve Cherundolo all entered at the start of the second and the game changed.

"Findley coming on with his pace was forcing the defense to drop back, so me and Landon were able to get into those pockets," Dempsey said. "And also bringing Jose into the game, he was able to get on the ball, and I thought he locked very confident and helped keep possession for us and caused them to tire a little bit."

Turan scored after Spector made a run deep upfield from his right back position only to lose the ball. Colin Kazim-Richards' long through ball found Turan open as Spector couldn't catch up. Goalkeeper Tim Howard came out, and Turan slotted the ball in from near the top of the penalty area.

"It's about a team reaction when the ball turns over," Bradley said.

Clint Dempsey
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images Midfielder Clint Dempsey, who notched the winning goal, looks to make a pass as Turkey's Sabri Sarioglu defends during the U.S.'s 2-1 win Saturday.

The U.S. tied the score on a play that began when defender Jay DeMerit sent a long ball to Findley. He made a precise pass to Donovan, who sprinted down the right side and rounded goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, pulling him off his line. Donovan crossed to Altidore, who banged the ball into the open net from 5 yards for his ninth goal in 25 international appearances.

Cherundolo started the move toward the second goal with a throw-in. Donovan crossed to Dempsey, who fought off Sabri Sarioglu with an arm and scored from about 10 yards.

"I knew it was going to be a 50-50 challenge with the defender," Dempsey said. "I tried to kind of absorb the hit so I was able to get good balance."

Dempsey nearly got another goal in the 87th, putting an open shot off a post after Michael Bradley cut the ball back.

Altidore was playing his first match since April 24, when he received a red card playing for Hull after giving Sunderland's Alan Hutton a head butt because the defender threw the ball at him.

DeMerit made his first appearance following an abdominal strain that had sidelined him since April 17. Captain Carlos Bocanegra was shifted to left back from center, the spot he occupied at the Confederations Cup last summer. It was his first match since sports hernia surgery on May 5.

Clarence Goodson played the first half at central defender before Onyewu replaced him. On Tuesday, Onyewu was slow to react against the Czechs but he looked better Saturday. They were his first two games since tearing his left patellar tendon on Oct. 14 in the final World Cup qualifier.

"The first game I felt OK," Onyewu said. "This game I felt better than first, and I'm just anticipating I'll be feeling better every time I go out there."

Players thought Torres' calming influence was key.

"I had to show Bob I really want to be in the starting 11," he said.

Donovan split the first half between the left -- his usual position with the national team -- and the right, where he played for Everton. He said putting himself on the right in the second half and Dempsey on the left was a late decision.

Players know when the World Cup begins, they can't come out as flat as they did.

"When you go into a tournament like this, the urgency is very apparent," Donovan said. "Every game, every goal, every minute is magnified and very important."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press