The Yanks completed (or so we think) their pre-World Cup schedule today by finalizing a May 29th match against Turkey in Philadelphia. The Turks are often described as a plucky bunch, with terms like all-heart being tossed around. They deserve more credit than that, a lot more.
Turkey isn’t just a team of guys who “want it” and are figuring out how to strike a soccer ball along the way. This is a team that made a deep run in Euro 08, denying the Czech’s a trip to the knockout rounds and taking Germany to extra time along the way. Simply put, they’re one of the best teams not playing in the 2010 World Cup, and that’s not a backhanded compliment, the likes of Russia and Croatia also missed the cut.
Not only will Turkey be a good measuring stick for the American World Cup roster, but having a match to play on home soil after March’s Netherlands match could be very important. I love that U.S. Soccer is going to Amsterdam to take on the Orange Crush, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a possibility (likelihood?) that the team gets beaten soundly in Holland. If that happens, the Turkey match will give the Yanks another chance to get the losing taste out of their collective mouth prior to the start of the biggest soccer tournament in the world.
Getting a positive result out of the Turkey game won’t be easy though. Tuncay, Volkan, and the Altintop twins mean business every time they step on a pitch. In contrast to the well-oiled machine that is the Dutch offense, the Turks create chaos and thrive on it. We may be left saying, “I’m not sure what happened there but now the ball’s in the back of the net and Timmy is cursing at everyone.”
So yes, like the game against the Netherlands, we could very well lose to Turkey. But these risks are necessary in preparing for the World Cup if the U.S. wants to surprise some people and make a run in the knockout stages. Maybe the Yanks will even ask the Turks for some pointers.
Note: Another team looking to play Cinderella like Turkey did in the summer of 08 – USA Hockey. A young and physical American squad got off to a great start in Vancouver today beating Switzerland 3-1. They’ll look to get out of group play and crash the expected Canada/Russia gold medal game party. Go Yanks eh!
Jon Levy is a senior staff writer and managing editor for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.