Experimentation over, U.S. turns to regulars against Turkey Saturday

i-059342d3cc5e16d697c839b8d1491611-Howardturks.jpgU.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard: ready to make his defenders an offer they can’t refuse (AP Photos).

Most regulars may return, but who will partner Jozy Altidore in the attack? Galaxy fans will undoubtedly be hoping Edson Buddle gets a chance. Remember, the game starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday on ESPN2:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — There’s a bit of chaos when a national team comes together.

“We have own idea about things at Everton,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “And AC Milan have their own ideas. And Rennes have their own ideas. And Watford.”

By the time of the June 12 World Cup opener against England, all these players from different clubs will hopefully form a coherent team, and that process will accelerate Saturday when the United States plays Turkey in its last game before leaving for South Africa.

More than 50,000 tickets have been sold for the sendoff match at Lincoln Financial Field. Most starters were rested for Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic, among them Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Howard.

“We’ll have a team that I think will be close to our regular team,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said Friday.

Turkey, a 2002 World Cup semifinalist that failed to qualify for this year’s tournament, is a physical side with a reputation for rough play. The Turks are ranked 29th in the world, 15 places below the U.S. and four above the Czechs.

It is a far better test than four years ago, when the last three World Cup warmups were against Morocco, Venezuela and Latvia.

“We looks for these games to fine tune things. I don’t think playing teams of lesser quality is going to help us, at all,” defender Oguchi Onyewu said. “It’s going to help us pinpoint certain weaknesses or things we have to work on as a group.”

Onyewu, who is with AC Milan, returned Tuesday night from October surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left knee and appeared rusty, getting outjumped by Tomas Sivok for a header on the first Czech goal. Onyewu could form the back line with Watford’s Jay DeMerit, out since April 17 with an abdominal strain; and Rennes’ Carlos Bocanegra, sidelined since sports hernia surgery on May 5. Jonathan Spector or Steve Cherundolo could play on the right.

i-780d5717ee225189934e936becc1e8dc-Bradleyturks.jpg“Gooch’s situation is obviously a little different than the situations with Carlos and Jay,” Bradley said. “In Gooch’s case we all know that that type of injury, being out that long, now when you come back, getting games, there’s little hurdles to get over in terms of just plays where now the reaction speed is different, and you’ve just got to be able to make a play without thinking about it. I think if I look back over the time that we’ve been in this camp, including the last game, we’ve seen good progress.”

DeMerit and Bocanegra have been in full training for a week and appear ready for the field.

The U.S. team leaves Sunday from Washington-Dulles International Airport and arrives in Johannesburg the following day. Once in South Africa, the Americans play Australia in another exhibition June 5 before the first competitive match between the U.S. and England since the 1-0 American upset at the 1950 World Cup.

“It’s going to take this game and all the preparation games and a lot of training, as well, in the next couple weeks to make sure that we’re on the same page,” DeMerit said. “Tomorrow’s a great place to start.”

Of particular interest will be how Bradley uses Clint Dempsey. With Charlie Davies still sidelined from injuries in an October car crash that nearly killed him, Dempsey could be pushed up to forward alongside Altidore.

Or Bradley could opt to start Edson Buddle or Herculez Gomez, the two forwards who came from below the radar a few months ago to make the 23-man roster Wednesday.

Gomez’s mobile phone has been ringing. And ringing. And ringing.

“It’s drained right now. Mentally it’s been overwhelming,” he said. “It’s good that we’re back here training. Once you’re back here training and you get that first sprint in, and you get that rush of adrenaline pumping, you forget about all the kind of circus that surrounds all this.”

Turkey already has signed Guus Hiddink to take over as coach on Aug. 1, and he’s traveling with the team.

“We like to consider it as a serious game,” he said.

That’s exactly what Howard wants. He’d like to develop flowing communication with his defenders, and he has only two matches to work out problems.

“You’re talking about an exercise that takes a whole lot of time, and we don’t have a whole lot of time to do it,” he said. “It’s vitally important that I get things together and I’m pulling the strings.”

That’s exactly what Howard wants. He’d like to develop flowing communication with his defenders, and he has only two matches to work out problems.

“You’re talking about an exercise that takes a whole lot of time, and we don’t have a whole lot of time to do it,” he said. “It’s vitally important that I get things together and I’m pulling the strings.”

Sort of like The Godfather.

“A lot of it is body language. A lot of it is timing and familiarity,” he said. “It’s just something that you don’t do overnight.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!