Fabian Johnson, usually noted for his contribution in the attacking build-up, turned goal-scorer with this technical strike.
Results in the Send-off Series friendlies just before the World Cup make a disproportionately sized impression on tournament expectations. In the past, this ranged from cautious optimism to rapidly deflated.
It wasn’t a great sign, then, when the US struggled to impose itself in a dour game against Azerbaijan. The US started its game against Turkey in the same 4-4-2 diamond formation, but with a surprising directness in attack. The breakthrough displayed some of that newfound direct play.
Brad Davis, on the right side following a free-kick, plays an easy ball back to Johnson. Johnson smoothly eludes a Turkish defender by cutting inward, and finds Michael Bradley 35 yard from goal. Bradley settles and distributes in one motion, hitting a beautiful lofted ball that takes at least four defenders out of the play. Johnson, sprinting toward goal after his initial pass, scores a goal that equals the quality of the pass. He opens his hips and hits a left-footed volley straight to the lower left corner, giving the keeper no chance.
It was the first goal Johnson scored for the US. The US won 2-1, and with the World Cup just weeks away, fans started feeling slightly better about the US’s chances.