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100 Words or Less

11 Quick Takes: What the Pundits Saw vs. Turkey

You should know the drill by now, ASN readers. We ask a diverse array of soccer analysts to go off on a topic, but we only give them 100 words to express themselves. Here are their words on U.S. v. Turkey
BY various Posted
June 02, 2014
11:33 AM
Mark Zeigler, sports writer, San Diego Union-Tribune
It is easy to say the attack looked good and the defense did not against Turkey, but they are not mutually exclusive. U.S. teams in past World Cups have regularly employed what amounted to two defensive mids, menacingly parked in front of the back four, rarely venturing forward, playing instead for the counterattack and set pieces. Jurgen Klinsmann, the consummate contrarian, is testing that old adage about the best defense being a good offense. That’s fun to watch and might produce more goals, but it also exposes a disjointed, dysfunctional back line. Pick your poison: hemlock or cyanide.

Brian Sciaretta, ASN contributing editor; NYTimes contributor
Overall, it was a very good game to learn because the lessons were so obvious. The diamond won’t work against good teams because the midfield can’t absorb the pressure defensively and the backline is therefore under too much stress. Timothy Chandler is simply not a left back. Would he be better on right with Fabian Johnson on the left? Maybe, maybe not – but it’s worth it to find out because either Chandler or Beasley at left back is scary. Klinsmann has regularly forced guys out of position and it has never worked. Oh, Jozy is fine and Julian Green isn’t ready.

Kevin Baxter, sports writer, Los Angeles Times
Another impressive performance for Geoff Cameron in the win over Turkey. It looks like Jurgen Klinsmann may have found a winning partner to pair with Matt Besler in central defense. I wasn’t as impressed with Jozy Altidore. Yes he created opportunities but as Klinsmann has said from Day One, creating chances is only half the job—you have to finish them too. And he couldn’t do that. Worse, he appears to have lost confidence, passing off on his last good chance late in the game. Snipers don’t pass on the edge of the six-yard box.

Graham Ruthven, soccer writer
There were a number of positives for the US in what was a very thorough pre-World Cup test. The backline is finally starting to take shape. Fabian Johnson has the right back spot locked down, while Timothy Chandler was also productive in an attacking sense (if slightly gung-ho defensively). Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron look like being the center back pairing that starts against Ghana, but in truth their partnership needs some work. And then there’s Jozy. Not sure what else we can say about Altidore at this point. Yes, he will start scoring again at some point, but the U.S. could do with that point being, well, now.

Jesse Yomtov, USA TODAY Sports/ASN contributor
His goal drought continued, but Jozy Altidore did everything you could have possibly asked for—except score. As per usual, his hold-up play and work rate were off the charts and there’s nobody else on the roster who can do what he does. Sure it would have been nice to see Jozy be selfish with a 2-0 lead and have a few rips, but can you really be angry at him for picking out open teammates? Altidore is a striker and should be scoring, but if he continues playing like he did on Sunday, the goals will come.

Blake Thomsen, ASN contributing editor
Were there plenty of things to smile about? Yes. Geoff Cameron, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Fabian Johnson chief among them. Unfortunately there were plenty of things to frown about as well, with the diamond midfield my biggest complaint. The space left in Turkey’s attacking half was nothing short of astonishing. It’s becoming cliché, but Ghana, Portugal, and Germany will throttle us if we play similarly. And I’d argue it didn’t even create too many chances. Chances were generally created via set pieces or counterattacks, which hardly depend on the diamond at all. Please figure it out (soon), Mr. Klinsmann.

Liviu Bird, ASN alum and SI.com contributor
This notion of “he did everything but score” with Jozy Altidore has to go away. He hasn’t produced in 10 months, and it’s time to find another solution. Jürgen Klinsmann’s continuous insistence on putting a below-average player who is out of form in the target striker role isn’t doing anything for the U.S.’s ability to score. Aron Johannsson has proven a few times, not least of which was in the Azerbaijan game when he came on and scored, that he would be a better choice right now.

John D. Halloran, ASN contributor
It would be interesting to see how an educated group of fans who weren't familiar with the U.S. players beforehand would rate their performances against Turkey. My feeling is that they would think Timothy Chandler wasn't nearly as bad as everyone has said, that Jozy Altidore was a handful up top (even more effective than Clint Dempsey) and that's why Michael Bradley was sold by Roma. But alas, Chandler can't run away from his uncommitted past, Altidore can't escape the ghosts of a year with Sunderland, and Bradley and Clint Dempsey can seemingly do no wrong.

Jonathan Tannewald, sports writer, Philly.com
I'll defer to Fatih Terim, who called Jozy Altidore (through an interpreter) "a very powerful striker, the kind of striker that centerbacks don't like much." And I'll defer to the fans at Red Bull Arena, who at times seemed to be willing Altidore to put the ball in the net. He put in a workhorse effort, and I have to think he'll snap his goal drought at some point. Until then, my big takeaways are Fabian Johnson's golazo, Michael Bradley's control of the midfield and the most pro-American crowd I've ever seen for a game in the New York area.

Noah Davis, ASN deputy editor
Eh, meh. It was what it was. The U.S. looked bad against Turkey but had enough moments of genuine inspiration to make the post-game "it's all a process" talking points mostly stick to the skeptical media wall. Jurgen Klinsmann probably found a few answers, too: Timmy Chandler is not a left back, Brad Davis isn't starter-worthy, Jozy Altidore needs a finishing lesson, the diamond is easily exploited on counters. While the 2-1 win was better than the match against Azerbaijan, it was worse than it needs to be. Everything in due time, hopefully.

Ben Jata, MLS editor/Opta analyst
The U.S. needs to sharpen up! Why send two players to guard three on short corners? Why send one to guard two? Jozy played his best as of late. Bradley struggled in the attacking role again (other than his assist on Fabian Johnson's goal). Dempsey is too casual at times. Fabian Johnson could be our deadliest weapon. Jones was solid. Davis looked better than Zusi. Cameron is coming into his own at CB and Brooks could be a scary man to mark on set-pieces.Oh, and Green looks like a school boy out there. Where is Donovan when you need him? Oh, right. He’s scoring goals in MLS...

OK, now it's your turn. Give us your take on Sunday's match—100 words max.

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