The US MNT plays in its first knock-out match in the World Cup since the glorious 2-0 victory over Mexico in 2002 (UPDATE: forgetting, of course, the match against Germany in the QF in ’02, which I continue to happily do). These two sides have a deep and stirring history that the media can not stop talking about . . . 1966, 1970, 1972, 1990, 1996 . . . where did it all go wrong? . . . no, wait, that’s England v Germany. Ghana and the USA have met exactly once, the final group match of 2006, in which Ghana won 2-1 on a sketchy penalty call at the end of the first half.
Ghana don’t score goals. Indeed, in 13 internationals in 2010, they’ve scored more than one goal once: a 5-2 victory over the mighty Burkina Faso. Both goals they’ve scored during this tournament were penalties by Rennes forward Asamoah Gyan. Given that the Guardian projects them to come out in a defensive-minded 4-1-4-1 for this match, and are without Michael Essien during this tournament, expect more of the same. However, don’t underestimate Ghana; they’re a strong, physical side that will press American players and disrupt any passing set up play. The US will have to rely on its pace to find space on counter attack.
It looks as though Bradley will make two changes from the side that beat Algeria on Wednesday: Gooch returns in central defence, and Findley partners Altidore up front.
While I’d love to discuss the bracket we’re in and its relative placid ease, I can’t. I expect Uruguay to get past South Korea, to face the winner of USA v Ghana. I underestimated Ghana in my predictions back in December (I saw them finishing last in their group), and won’t do so again.
Side note: Asamoah Gyan and US Captain Carlos Bocanegra are teammates at French 1st Division side Stade Rennais.
UPDATE (and this one I did miss): Ghana right back John Paintsil and Clint Dempsey are teammates at Fulham.