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USA vs. Ghana: A Look Ahead (& Who should start for USA?)

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With the Group Stage behind them, the U.S. men's national team can now focus on trying to make a dream run to the World Cup final a year after making a dream run to the Confederations Cup Final.

Standing in the way at the first knockout round hurdle is Ghana, which happens to be the same team that eliminated the United States in the 2006 World Cup. This time around, both the USA and Ghana are better teams, but we won't know until Saturday whether the Americans have truly closed the gap on the 'Black Stars'.

Ghana comes in having finished second in Group D to Germany, with a stingy defense and an offense that has managed just two goals from the penalty spot.

You will be able to find my preview on the match, as well as a feature on Jozy Altidore, later today on For now, here are Five Keys to USA-Ghana.

One key to the match will be what lineup Bob Bradley decides to trot out against Ghana. Here is a lineup I could see the Americans using on Saturday in Rustenberg:

USA Projected Lineup vs. Ghana





Why this lineup? The Americans don't want to lose the possession battle and this could be the best lineup to keep that from happening. Dempsey can slide between second striker and attacking midfielder, giving the Americans a third man in the middle at times. Moving Dempsey up allows Bradley to start Feilhaber, who has been solid in his two recent substitute appearances.

Now, if Bradley decides he's got enough faith in Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu or Ricardo Clark to handle themselves against Ghana's three-man central midfield, and he wants to start out attacking as the USA has the past two matches, we could see this lineup:





This might actually be the more likely lineup, with Findley working hard to pressure the Ghana back-line with his speed, while also dropping back to support the midfielders when he can.

These lineups are obviously contingent on Oguchi Onyewu being healthy and ready to play. Onyewu is said to be at around 90 to 95 percent so he should start, meaning Jonathan Bornstein goes back to the bench after an admirable performance against Algeria.

What lineup would you like to see against Ghana? Do you like the USA's chances of exacting revenge for 2006?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’ll root for whoever shows up tomorrow, but since goes with a 4-5-1 this is what I’d like to see as a matchup for the first 45:





    at the half I’d bring off Benny and add Gomez, maybe also swap Holden for Edu and shift Dempsey up for a 4-3-3:

    ——-same back line——

    in a word, i’d press, keep them camped out and stretch the game as wide as possible. get in behind the midfield and send crosses in all day long.

    If we “play our game” rather than try to neutralize theirs I might suggest:


    Altodire Buddle
    Dempsey Bradely Edu Donovan
    same back line

  2. Why Findley and not Buddle? Findley has a brutal first touch and lacks the confidence to take on players- I was excited he couldn’t play vs Algeria. Gomez didn’t impress either. I think it has to be either Dempsey or Buddle up front

  3. All I have to say is no way in hell Bob starts mediocre players like Findley & Bornstein who will get beat easily and loose balls left and right, I mean we are trying to win not just use speed and our most dangerous duo up top is Deuce and Jozey, would love to see Benny or Beasley to start and if it doesn’t pan out put in Holden, also if Gooch isn’t 100% we should start Goodsen who has been very impressive and hasn’t messed up big time unlike Bornstein, and he’s another huge body who’s good at headering set pieces!!!

  4. Put simply, Bornstein played better at left back than Gooch did in the centerback spot. Gooch seems a step slow and ineffective in the air. Also his distribution has been poor. Bornstein had plenty of speed to keep up with the pacy Algerian winger, made no major positional errors, and even got forward at times. Also consider that we just recorded our first clean sheet in how long? Why mess with what works.

  5. Benny also has quite a bit more experience and myabe just a bit more desire.

    I find Benny to be off and on but he’s really on lately. I can tell you from personal experience that job hunting is a great incentive.

  6. If you start Benny…he is going to disappear and essentially take up a spot in which beasley or Holdon would normally come in and be effective. Both Torres and Benny are at their best when they come in as subs and should not get starting roles…Ive excepted the fact that the posession game in Bradley’s system is non-existent. In my opinion, they need a box to box MF or a very speedy winger that can get out on the break.






  7. No, I think the slates are wiped clean after the quarterfinals. This is to prevent someone from getting a cheap yellow in the semis and missing the Final.

  8. Im sure bornstein ran into some bad luck and all…however, I think the kid is in over his head at the international level. He constantly gets abused on the right side. The only attribute the kid has is speed and even that doesn’t bail him out that often taken into consideration that he constantly gets caught goofy footed. In addition to that, he causes silly fouls in and around the box in addition to the ones inside the box. Lets look at the right back situation. Out of all those issues that Bornstein has…how many of those does chrrundolo relate to?
    a vast majority of the US fans in attendance apparently felt the same way taking into consideration all the boos he received when he touched the ball…gave away possession or got beat on the flank.

    Your right…he doesnt suck…maybe, 30% of the time.

  9. ———————-Altidore———————





    Ghana are very unorganized and lacking tactically, so if we keep those two compact lines of four that stop teams from moving the ball up the middle, it can stifle a lot of their attack. The twist is that Edu can stop players who operate in between those two lines so that goals like Slovenia’s first against us don’t happen. Moreover, Edu can act as an anchor in the midfield that can free up Bradley and Torres. This is important, as it allows Bradley to surge forward like he did on his all-important goal against Slovenia. It also lets Torres float around the midfield, look to keep possession and try to provide a trustworthy link between the defense and attack. I know people think Jozy should have a partner, but he gives defenses plenty of problems on his own and has all the tools of a lone striker. The problem is when we don’t give him support and service from the midfield.

  10. Altidore





  11. If you Feilhaber and Donovan in mid, why not put LD left mid? Having Feilhaber as left mid may take away from natural width and playmaking. He doesn’t have LD status yet

  12. they missed a boatload of chances vs germany as well… but I’m sure they’ll have been practicing. That kid Ayew is the real deal as well.

  13. That wasnt directed exclusively at you, but I noticed you called for Bornstein like some others and I just didn’t want to put a long comment all the way at the bottom. But he had some pretty brutal moments in qualifying and confed cup where he was subsequently benched, which is part of the reason they turned that tournament around. It’s not just about the goals he was responsible for against Netherlands, but all the times he was getting burned, granted it was against some of the best players in the world. But if he had nerves, as you put it, in a kickaround against Australia, how do you think he will fare in the knock out stage of the world cup.

  14. I dont remember any times bornstein sucked besides some nerves against Australia and other friendlies….you are looking back at holland aren’t you? A soft PK and an unlucky deflection off himself. You obviously didnt read all of my comment as well bcause I said I didnt care what d line bb selected between the 3 group games. You also mentioned an Algerian team that didnt score, how about a Ghana side that barely scored. Bornstein has good speed and gets forward well. All I was saying was that he is a possibility we may see.

  15. I think people are mistakenly taking Ghana’s compact defense and speed to suggest we don’t need Findley. The issue is not that we should feed Findley long balls and watch him burn past Ghana’s defenders. The issue is that we want someone to make diagonal runs that pull them out of their compact shape and that force them to provide more space. They don’t bunker exactly. In fact, they play a pretty high line. This would be designed to force them to pull their line back some, thus opening up more space in the midfield. I’m not saying it is the only way to get this result, but it is a plausible strategy.

  16. Yeah, let’s not forget, Findley’s last minutes came in a terrible first half against Slovenia, that saw him get subbed off at halftime. He was bad enough that we took a forward off when we were down two goals.

    I like Buddle up top, to be honest. Jozy’s fast enough to run onto balls and run at defenders, and Buddle has shown an ability to hold the ball up, and make good passes (ball in front of goal at the end of the Algeria game notwithstanding.) As well as the ability to score, in friendlies, at least, which is more than we can say for Findley. Plus it gives us another head for Donovan to find on set-pieces, which the USA still hasn’t scored on. That’s actually kind of impressive, considering the team’s usual reliance on them, and it makes you think we’re due, right?

  17. Wow! Many of you seem to have the shortest of memories. Remember all of those very recent times when Bornstein completely sucked? He played decently against a team who scored zero goals in three games. As soon as he faces some real quality he will revert back to sucking again and everyone will be calling for his head. So I’m hoping Bob does him a favor and keeps him on the bench from here on out. I think it’s just a case of the bar being set ridiculously low, as long as he doesn’t turn around and fire a shot at Howard’s goal everyone thinks he was great. I’m also really concerned about Gooch playing against speedy forwards. He looks bulkier and slower than ever and when he wears gloves he looks more like a cage fighter than a soccer player. That image alone can subconciously influence a referee. He has also resorted to manhandling guys a bit. But if it’s a choice between him in the center or Bornstein on the left? For me that’s easy. I like Dempsey and Altidore up top. I’ve actually been fairly impressed with Findley’s touch and speed and I think he shows a lot of potential, but for now he obviously lacks tactical sense and finishing ability. I think we’ve seen enough of him taking the ball all the way to the touch line. Maybe CD9 can teach him how to cut the ball back. Right now we need proven big game goal scorers up front. I’d like to see Beasley on the left to take some of the burden off of Boca and because he was the best player on the team during the friendlies he played this year. He would add width to a shape that has been really narrow so far. He also has a nice left footed cross that could find Dempsey’s and Altidore’s head. The fact that he is out of contract should add a little extra motivation as well.

  18. Ghana’s only scored on penalty kicks so far, so it seems like they’re only marginally better at finishing than Algeria…

  19. Agreed. Findley is not a track star and what speed he displays has yet to result in anything positive. Gomez had a good first half against Algeria and should have had an assist. He looks like the most dangerous forward we have next to Altidore. I’d rather have Findley’s speed late in the game, particularly against tired legs if we go past 90 mins.

  20. Everyone on the roster has pretty much had a run the best line up would be the 4-2-2-2 that we normally use. Edu paired up with m. b rad, so that bradley can help the mids, demps and lan the man, and edu can help the back four. Bringing in benny off the bench if we need to score and taking off gucci for buddle or herc. That formation has worked best for us and I dont see coach B.B. creating a new formation to intergrate new players.

  21. I got your back, Angel. Sounds like an honest mistake. The good news is Jozy will be queueing up for a hattrick in about 24 hours.

  22. I agree Gomez should start. At least He was on target. But that gol was clearly OFFSIDE. No doubt the one against Slovenia was good, but the Gomez-Dempsey was not. Missed it by a foot.

  23. I like gomez and buddle to play… I think they have both played well and contributed…Maybe buddle to start and relieved by gomez…I liked bb’s creativity of putting beasley in for bornstein last game…go USA!

  24. 1-1 draw. We give up a goal on the counter. BUT WE WIN IN EXTRA TIME! We will wear them down. We’re too fit to be stopped. Come on US!

  25. I would prefer to see Gomez get another look with Altidore tomorrow. He is confident and has a knack for scoring goals. If not Gomez than I would prefer Findley because his pace opens space and keeps the back line honest. I do not want to see Dempsey start up top. He is more involved on the wings.

    It will be interesting to see if Onyewu plays.


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