Ghana v USA: World Cup Match Preview
This game is about exorcising demons for the US. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said that it's a must-win, and for all of his candor, the US manager is dead-on when it comes to needing a result against Ghana with Portugal and Germany looming.
After knocking the US out of the last two World Cups, Ghana needs this result just as badly as the US does, though. The African nation has emerged out of group play throughout the last two World Cups using largely the same recipe -- speed, possession and offense. It scored 18 goals in six qualifying games, and the two players who notched goals to knock the US out in 2010 -- Asamoah Gyan and Kevin-Prince Boateng -- are both back. Gyan averaged a goal per game in qualifying.
The US will counter with its recently revived scoring duo of Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, both of whom have vast experience in Europe's best leagues. Dempsey, as he was in the last exhibition against Nigeria, should be deployed as an attacking midfielder to help combat Ghana's advantage in the neutral zone and to faciliate on offense. The real battle will be in the midfield, where Ghana usually dominates possession and exhausts its opponents. Much will be asked of Michael Bradley, who will need to contribute on the defensive portion of Klinsmann's formation, but will also be tasked with driving the US possession up the pitch.
Whether the US can get a favorable result largely comes down to its back four. You'll have DaMarcus Beasley, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler and Fabian Johnson as the last line of defense before Tim Howard will be called upon. The central backs don't have great chemistry and haven't been in an environment as pressurized as the World Cup. Cameron's club experience will help, but how flawlessly can the line communicate when Ghana is provoking a swift counter attack? It's going to take an entire team effort to take down Ghana, and then, and only then, can the US begin to entertain the thought of advancing and worry about the rest of the Group of Death.
The US has a bad lingering taste in its mouth and claims it has much to prove against the world's elite teams. A win on Monday would make Group G take notice. A loss could render the US campaign over before it gets started.
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