Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
SAO PAULO, Brazil — Four years ago might seem like a long time, and for the U.S. Men’s National Team it has been exactly that.
With the U.S.’s World Cup opener against Ghana drawing closer, talk of the Round of 16 match between the two nations in 2010 is ramping up among fans and media. It is natural, of course, given that the hard-fought game required 30 minutes of extra time before Ghana prevailed, 2-1, to eliminate the Americans from the tournament in South Africa.
The U.S., however, is not focusing on the past or seeking vengeance ahead of its June 16 meeting with the Black Stars in Natal. That might not come as much of a surprise given that only six players from the Americans’ 2010 World Cup squad are currently on the one in Brazil — but even those who tasted defeat on that night in Rustenberg are not looking in the rearview mirror. No matter how big of a talking point it is to others.
“Not a word’s been spoken,” said goalkeeper Tim Howard — one of the holdovers from 2010 — on Friday. “We’ve said that all along. That was four years ago. It’s ancient history really the way football is looked at. This is a different team with a different mindset.”
Indeed, the U.S. of today has little resemblance to the one of four years ago. Jurgen Klinsmann is now the head coach and the players he has summoned are largely different and lack World Cup experience.
Veteran staples like Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra have been replaced by talented young prospects like Julian Green and John Brooks. There is also now more responsibility on the shoulders of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, who were both youngsters playing in their first World Cup four years ago.
What has not changed much in the eyes of the U.S. is the way Ghana plays. The Americans are expecting another gritty affair in which they will have to be just as tough as they are watchful of the Ghanaians’ deadly speed on the counter.
“We know how physical they are, so we’re going to try and match that,” Howard said. “I’ve said it before: very rarely do we get outmatched physically, but this is a team who has that possibility of doing that. We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen and just being kind of clever with our positioning and making sure they don’t hit us in transition.”
Much has been made of how the U.S.’s back line will cope against Ghana stars like midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng and striker Asamoah Gyan, both of whom scored in the 2010 encounter. But how Bradley, Altidore and captain Clint Dempsey fare in spearheading the U.S. attack is equally as important.
What type of tactical approach Klinsmann will opt for is still unknown, but he could go with the defend-and-counter style that was used in a 2-1 win vs. Nigeria in the Americans’ final pre-World Cup friendly in Jacksonville, Florida.
“They’re similar teams,” said midfielder Graham Zusi. “I think we can, through our good defensive work, catch them on counters. And our fitness level, as well, late in the game will prove vital like it did in Jacksonville — and just be very disciplined. They’re a very talented team, and I think that defensive shape is going to be big for us.”
The Americans’ World Cup opener is one they have labeled a virtual must-win in order to have a realistic shot of advancing from a challenging Group G that also includes Portugal and Germany.
That, not the result of four years ago, is the source of motivation driving the U.S. right now.
“We know it will be a tough game because they are a physical team. They have good players with (Michael) Essien, Boateng, Asamoah,” said midfielder Jermaine Jones. “But I say it before: we have a lot of respect of this team but we’re not scared. We try to go there and try to win this game.”
Beyond the defense, the real question with Ghana is organization. They may be super fast and athletic, but if their multiple stars are freelancing, there will be holes and opportunities to exploit. The game will turn on how disciplined and efficient and ruthless we can be in those moments. Luckily, we are being coached by a German!
@ RNG did u watch the neds game? even their countrymen were complaining of their fragile defense of young lads who were inexperienced but they won massively agt Spain and conceded just one. we believe in our attack.many defenders hate playing Ghana cos they are unpredictable. ayew,gyan,kp,ASA and de young lads are very unpredictable and that’s the kinda hell ur defenders will be facing
organisation has never been a p for Ghana when they go for tournaments. jozy can’t score,luv Dempsey but if its not blunder or a penalty he can’t also score,LD was ur real danger man but he cudnt make it. none of ur players can produce magic unlike Ghana and its really going to cost u
Jozy can score. Bradley can produce magic. Dempsey is the ultimate garbage collector (so Ghana’s defense better not leave much around). FJ is ahandful when he comes forward.
The Black Stars are very good, maybe even a bit better than the US. It’s going to be a very good game. Nothing wrong with a draw here. Portugal and Germany are both weaker than their respective reputations (though still strong, of course). The group is more wide open that folks are allowing for.
One of Ghana and the US will advance.
last 4yrs we won in the extra time and 2006 goal shouldn’t have stood,I thought it was a foul but it happened at the blind side of the referee. our encounter has never been easy for both countries. before we played Egypt many people in Ghana were scared because they’re a hard nut to crack. I witnessed the live in Kumasi and surprisingly we slaughtered them not because they’re bad but the coach had to prove himself to us. he is the first black to qualify Ghana to the WC but many think he is not there yet and that is his determination and driving force. lyk I said pray we have a bad luck or we suffer from a horrendous officiating if not fgt abt the game. no doubt ur coach is good and wants to stop us but playing Ghana is not just abt the zeal to win but it takes extreme focus from players and a confusion in our team or we suffer from the bad defence we all know or poor judgement from our coach and maybe poor referring. I’m a lil bit scared cos u guys are fighters and very athletic. I just can’t wait any further. is it going to be a revenge or a we gonna beat u again. how I wish today is Monday lol
The US team has great respect for the Black Stars. You guy have proven that you are a quality team. I think Ghana is the best team in Africa and the US is the best team in ConCaCaf. I am looking foward to Monday.
the respect is mutual pal and I just can’t wait too
determination only is just not enough to beat ghana.
I’m a Ghanaian and an admirer of this site.luv ur contributions just that a few has gone wayward.Monday will be a great spectacle…. we hope to beat u again but us team is on fire now. let’s hope for a beautiful game on Monday…don’t know y some are really paying attention to our weak defence,guess u didn’t watch the neds game? I luv jozy but we all know his proficiency in the EPL..gyan could have turned out to be one of the best but he really needs the money. Ghana has a great mid and attack , just pray they have a bad day
Both thew USA and Ghana are better teams than they were 4 years ago. I do think the USA has improved more than the team that managed to squeeze out an overtime win 4 years ago and that barely held on to ovoid penalty kicks.
Sorry emma and Kwesi, but Monday will be a sad one for Ghana.
You’ll be crying in your shack all night long
They should be looking back at those games for their tackling fuel!
The Mex Cameroon game really highlights the importance of a strong, cohesive team performance in the first game, as opposed to getting caught up on player pedigree. The Mexican team doesnt have anyone with the pedigree of Eto or Song right now, yet Mexico by far looked like the better team.
Hoping that US cohesion, and strong preparation outweigh the stronger name power of Ghana’s leading players.
Cameroon’s approach was shockingly bad. They gave Mexico the whole field and then tried to counter, but with limited attacking options that was bound to fail. Should have been a 3-0 game.
I don’t believe for a second the guys from 2010/2006 aren’t looking for revenge.
But they can say whatever they want to the media, just WIN the game.
It’s a World Cup match…. no need to look any further for motivation than that.
I dont care how everyone else’s head is, but I so want Dempsey to be playing for revenge. He was there, and he always kicks into that beast gear when he is playing mad.
Excellent FIFA officiating cough cough puke spew. Lol
Built my work schedule around the US games. Taking extra days off just to watch them too. In return I ask them to give their all. I want the US to control the game set the tempo. Score early and watch out for the Refs. If we’re down don’t give up we’re known for come backs.
We should win 3 or 4 to 1. Now that jozy has found some sort of form. Especially if Ghana`s defense is anything like Cameroon`s
It isn’t. Their D is their weak point, granted, but they’re much stronger through the midfield and they have a TON of attacking options…Cameron had Eto’o trying to beat Mexico on his lonesome for most of the game.
Ghana is a much, much better team than Cameroon right now. More talented, and Cameroon has a TON of problems internally, most of them related to their crappy federation.
We’re going to have our hands full.
The truth is the Blackstars of Ghana will beat the Yankes of US for the third time.
Welcome to SBI Kwesi. I noticed your post from yesterday as well. Most of the posters here try to provide insight and perspective. Please feel free to ad a fan of the Blacks stars views. I hope there is more to you than Trolling.
+1. And if this site isn’t going to be moderated, please don’t feed the trolls.
+1 well said
Mr Green76,I am not a troll. I am here to know what my opponents have to say about their team. I am not here to irritate anyone.
Do you know why the US team cannot beat Ghana? Ghana has a potent attack currently than in 2010 world cup and the midfield is much better. The defense is not in good shape but not that bad.
Look at the scoreline between Netherland and Spain. (5-1).Ghana played the Netherlands team A with our team B in a friendly match two weeks ago at their own backyard but the scoreline was 1-0 in favour of Netherland.
The US should not underestimate Ghana. THE HISTORY IS THERE TO SHOW.
LOL ya your B team only lost 1-0 to their A team? Ok
BOOOOO!!!!!!!! We will get revenge!!! GO USA!!!
Alright. Let’s do the talking on the field on Monday. Can’t wait for that game. Go Blackstars go!!!!!!!!!
Pot meet kettle.
Did you really just tell him to do the talking on the field despite your inciting posts above?
It will be a great game. With any luck, all the bad calls have already been made in Brazil and Mexico games and we will have excellent officiating.
I believe that we will win!
I believe that —
I believe that we
I believe that this is the last level of reply allowed on this site
I guess I was wrong
I believe that!
I believe that we believe that we will win!
¡Yo lo creo!