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.

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