U.S. to focus on defense against Turkey

U.S. team coach Bob Bradley (left) with his team captain, Carlos Bocanegra, at a news conference on Friday.
U.S. team coach Bob Bradley (left) with his team captain, Carlos Bocanegra, at a news conference on Friday.
Posted: May 29, 2010

The only thing standing between the U.S. men's national team and its flight to South Africa is Saturday afternoon's send-off match against Turkey.

The match, scheduled for 2 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field, is the team's last on-field effort before flying to Johannesburg for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

More than 50,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday's game.

On Tuesday in Hartford, the U.S. team lost to the Czech Republic, 4-2, in the first match of its "send-off series." In that match, U.S. coach Bob Bradley exclusively played his second string, using the time as a final observation session before finalizing his 23-man roster.

On Wednesday, Bradley cut his roster from 30 to the FIFA limit of 23.

"We always understand the responsibility of winning," Bradley said before Friday's training session. "As much as I spoke the other night about the fact that there was a lot on the line, players giving their all to show they belonged on the team going to South Africa, we also said we were disappointed with the result."

Bradley said Saturday's effort would include a different, distinctly more competitive, lineup.

"We'll have a team that, I think, will be close to our regular team," Bradley said.

The U.S. team opens the World Cup on June 12 against England; the World Cup runs from June 11 to July 11.

"As we get closer to the England game, we always have to make decisions about what our best team will be for that game, so we'll use a tough matchup with Turkey to help us in that regard," Bradley said.

The biggest question mark after Tuesday's result was the team's defensive presence.

Defender Carlos Bocanegra, also team captain, has missed training time due to injury, as has defensive star Oguchi Onyewu and mainstay Jay DeMerit.

Bocanegra said the team's defensive effort will be a focal point on Saturday, saying the backline unit would focus on eliminating the mistakes that allowed the Czech Republic to score four goals, while also rebuilding its chemistry.

A few minutes before Friday's training session at Lincoln Financial Field, Bocanegra said he did not view Tuesday's result as an indication of this team's ability.

"We've been working towards this. . . . Bob has been hammering into us from Day One on how we want to go about things, how we bring it to training every day," Bocanegra said. "And that hasn't changed. He's stuck to his path, and the guys have bought into it. It's not just about the next two weeks, it's been building up since three years ago."

On TV. Saturday's match can be seen on ESPN2. A 30-minute pre-game show, slated to begin at 1:30, will air on ESPN.

Welcoming Brazil. On Friday, U.S. Soccer announced that a month after the World Cup's conclusion, on Aug. 10, the U.S. men's national team has scheduled a match against Brazil to be played at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Brazil, the five-time world champions, has not played in the New York area for 14 years.


Contact staff writer Kate Fagan

at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.

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