The United States posted another win on Sunday, defeating Turkey, 2-1, in their second of three sendoff matches. Three changes were made from the team that beat Azerbaijan earlier this week, and we got to learn quite a bit from the new combinations that took the pitch.
The diamond works with Deuce and Bradley
Jurgen Klinsmann has switched to a 4-4-2 diamond in order to get Michael Bradley higher up the pitch, where he can worry more about creating than defending, and it seems to be working well. But the biggest reason it works, besides the fact that Bradley is very talented, is the presence of Clint Dempsey.
Without Dempsey in the team against Azerbaijan, the defense opposing the United States could focus on one creator. With Dempsey dropping deep into space and posing a threat as a creative passer, there's more for opposing defenses to think about, and it's no coincidence that Bradley was involved in both goals, from open play.
Brooks worth another look?
Because of John Brooks' poor performance against Ukraine in a recent friendly, many fans were displeased when he was given a spot on the 23-man roster ahead of Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst. But he proved his worth off the bench on Sunday, making a number of clear blocks and clearances in the second half. He was an improvement over Matt Besler, the man who he replaced, and outshined Geoff Cameron.
Is it time to give Brooks another chance to start?
Chandler is not a left back
Even though Fabian Johnson has played more left back than right back in his career and Timothy Chandler is very clearly a right-sided player, Klinsmann opted to play them backwards on Sunday. This is mostly because he views Johnson as his starting right back and just wanted to get a look at alternatives to DaMarcus Beasley.
But Chandler was a defensive liability throughout the match and looked completely lost at left back. This experiment was a serious failure. Hopefully Johnson and Chandler get swapped if Beasley can't play a World Cup game.
Julian Green is still a kid
Surprise! An 18-year-old who doesn't actually play real professional soccer looked confused and overmatched when he was put onto a pitch with real, actual professionals. Good for Green for being a big enough prospect to get this kind of treatment, and good on Klinsmann for getting him time in a friendly, but he's not more than a kid along for the ride right now. He should be the 23rd man.
Time for Wondo?
Jozy Altidore wasn't as poor against Turkey as he was against Azerbaijan, but he still struggled. He made some poor decisions, his off the ball movement still wasn't as good as it should be and his shots all went right at the goalkeeper.
With Dempsey playing as a forward and Bradley as an attacking midfielder, it's okay if the other center forward is a poacher and not much more, and it's definitely a positive if that forward's best qualities are intelligent movement and finishing. That's exactly what Chris Wondolowski brings, and it might be worth giving him a shot in this team. He's not guaranteed to be more effective than Altidore, but between his skill set and Jozy's poor form, he should get a shot.