HARRISON, N.J. — The combinations started to click. The confidence grew a little bit.
Goals by Fabian Johnson and Clint Dempsey led the United States over Turkey 2-1 Sunday for the Americans’ second straight win in their World Cup sendoff series.
Getting ready for their World Cup opener against Ghana on June 16, the Americans move on to Florida for next weekend’s stateside finale against Nigeria knowing preparation is far from complete.
“It’s important not to overanalyze these games,” said midfielder Michael Bradley, who set up the first goal with a gorgeous chip. “There’s a World Cup coming up and everybody wants to now look at every play in every minute in every game, but it’s important to now look at these games in the context of a bigger picture.”
Tim Howard made his 99th international appearance, and with his 54th victory surpassed Kasey Keller to set the American record for wins by a goalkeeper. Other than that, the way the U.S. played was far more significant than the result.
“Quite an open game,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “We still want to see a lot of little pieces.”
Klinsmann made the decision 10 days earlier to cut American career scoring leader Landon Donovan, who got his third goal in two games for the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday. Klinsmann’s roster, lineup picks and formation choices are highly debated by a growing American fan base.
The 26-year-old Johnson, among the five German-Americans on the 23-man roster, made his second straight start at right back. He received a backpass about 40 yards from goal in the 26th minute, made a run and laid the ball off to Bradley. Johnson continued his run, Bradley chipped the ball over the defense and Johnson coolly slotted past goalkeeper Onur Kivrak with a left-footed volley from 6 yards.
“He kind of told me with the way he was running that he was going to keep running through,” Bradley said
Johnson, who had not scored in 20 previous national team games, jogged down the endline with both arms outstretched, stopped, turned and gave Dempsey a double high-5.
“On his celebration, you could see that he’s not an experienced goal-scorer,” Klinsmann said.
Johnson joked about his lack of preparation for jubilation.
“I’m a defender. On this part a Jozy or a Clint are better,” he said.