US v. Ghana Preview

It was just four years ago that Ghana sent the United States team packing after a dismal trip in Germany for World Cup 2006.  The US entered the final group stage match needing a victory over the African nation to secure a second consecutive trip to the knockout stages.  However, a few mental lapses on defense(sound familiar?) led to a quick goal for Ghana and an embarrassing end for the Americans.  Fast forward to the 2010 World Cup.  The United States have advanced to the round of 16 as group c winners.  It marks the first time since 1930 that the US has won their group.  The Americans are also coming off an improbable stoppage time victory over Algeria that ensured progression and cemented the US team’s moniker of the “Cardiac Kids.”  The Americans are set to face Ghana on Saturday with the winner moving on to face the winner of Uruguay/South Korea.  Here is a quick look at what will need to happen for the US and Ghana to have a chance to advance.

The United States were a goal post away from giving up yet another early goal to the opposition.  Previous matches against England and Slovenia had the Americans fall behind before the 10 minute mark only to come roaring back.  The match against Algeria did not require a frantic comeback.  However, a Landon Donovan goal in the 91st minute did provide all the necessary excitement and fireworks befitting this team.  The United States needs another solid effort from the attacking front if they hope to get past Ghana.  The American attack did well to create many chances in front of goal.  However, the finishing touch was severely lacking and if not for the stroke of brilliance in stoppage time, the missed chances would have sent the US tumbling home.  Bob Bradley may have found a suitable striker partnership in Altidore and Buddle.  After being introduced in the second half, it took Buddle only a couple of minutes to come close to heading home his first career World Cup goal.  The exclusion of Oguchi Onyewu seemed to shore up the communication issues at the back line.  It is likely the same back four from the Algeria match will get the nod against Ghana.  Don’t expect too many changes for the American side after a very good showing to end the group stage.  The back line will have their work cut out for them trying to combat the speed of Ghana.  DeMerit and Bocanegra will be key once again.  The US will win if they get solid play from the back line and the American attack can capitalize on scoring opportunities.

The United States had their World Cup hopes shattered by a physical and fast Ghana squad in 2006./New York Times

Ghana is the only African nation that has progressed past the group stage.  The Black Stars are looking to become only the third African team to advance to the quarterfinals.  Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002 are the only two.  Ghana features a fast, physical, and highly organized squad that knocked the Americans off the ball routinely in their 2006 clash.  Ghana’s best player, Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, is absent from the tournament with a knee injury.  However, a pair of penalty kicks propelled Ghana past the group stage and into a showdown with the United States.  Forward Asamoah Gyan is responsible for both Ghana goals this tournament having scored them from the penalty spot.  Ghana will need to continue the solid defensive play that has been the key to the African nation’s success.  The Black Stars will have their hands full with a surging American attack.  Look for Ghana to go on the counter attack whenever they get the chance.  Ghana will win if they can use their speed and strength to control the midfield and put pressure on the shaky American back line.

Desperate America Report prediction: Ghana wins 2-1 on US mistakes at the back.

The United States has the opportunity to go far in this tournament with the field shaping up in their favor.  However, a tough test in Ghana will really show how much the US has grown from the 2006 World Cup.  Stay with Desperate America for match updates on Twitter and post match wrap-up.  Go USA!

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