USA vs. Ghana FIFA World Cup 2010 Preview

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USA vs. Ghana FIFA World Cup 2010 Preview
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Stage: Round of 16

Winner Plays Versus: The winner of Uruguay v. South Korea

Time: 2030h GMT +1 or 2:30p.m. EST

Venue:  Royal Bafokeng Stadium — Rustenberg, South Africa

Referee:  Viktor Kassai (Hungary) — One of the best referees so far, Kasai is sharp on the fouls, alert to the dives and a good communicator of reasonable boundaries for players. The matches have been flowing and entertaining under his guidance.

Date of Birth: October 9th, 1975

Height: 189 cm (approx. 6' 3")

Occupation: Sales manager

Native Tongue: Hungarian

Other languages: English

International since: 2003

First international: Slovakia v. Luxembourg (8/18/2004)

Hobbies: Sports, cinema

Fondest memory: FIFA Olympic Football Tournament, Beijing 2008

 

 

Overview

A very tough, open encounter between a resilient US team that fights to the last second, and an explosive, highly skilled Ghana club with trouble putting the ball in the net and lapses of concentration.

Africa’s last hope in Africa’s World Cup is getting the unbridled support of the entire continent, as the Black Stars seek to better Cameroon’s 1990 record of getting to the quarterfinals. The US is hungry to get on the World Football map, and to change the name to soccer once and for all.  Don’t discount them until the final whistle has blown. Algeria did and look what happened.

 

Suggested Menu With Your Game

Appetizer — Ghanaian Palm Nut Soup to symbolize the thick broth that the Ghanaians will create to make US attacks sluggish.

Main Course — Appalachian Squirrel needs determination to eat, and determination is exactly what the US needs. It should be accompanied by French Fries drowned in Heinz Ketchup, a world renowned brand that US national team is aspiring to be.

Drink—  Coca-Cola off course... unless you prefer Pepsi

Beer — Ghanaian Star Beer varies extremely in quality from bottle to bottle — similar to the Ghananian team from minute to minute.

Dessert — Overly Sweet American Apple Pie with whipped cream just for Landon Donovan.

 

Squad Analysis: Team USA


Unofficial Theme Song to Accompany Style of Play

"My Way" by Frank Sinatra.  This song  has the ambiguity and reference to the final curtain, not to mention its a song about stubbornness. 

Tactics

The US has a 4-4-2 diamond formation, but varies the attack pattern from game to game. The three strongest points are consistent, Tim Howard in goal, Landon Donovan with free roaming playmaking tasks from midfield, and Michael Bradley the coaches’ son organizing the midfield’s rhythm. The speed and strength of Jozy Altidore give the US hope.

Strengths

Determination like few other teams. The US team is fit and strong, and can outrun the Ghanaians. Landon Donovan is playing his 126th game for the US and looking for his 45th goal.  He is at the prime of his career having acquired experience for previous quickness. The presence of Jozy Altidore is a big part of the US game plan as he creates holes in the defense with his power and speed.

Weakness

Quality is lacking in some parts of the formation, and the US team could be overconfident from finishing top of the group. They also tend to play victim in front of the referee, while dishing out heavy fouls themselves too often and this can cost them sometimes. Having one playmaker only can be a weakness if the other team manages to lock him down. The US forward line is overrated, with most goals coming from midfielders Dempsey and Donovan.

Key to beating Ghana

Patience and drive towards the Ghanaian goal, shooting from everywhere and following the rebound up. The US often plays like that and that’s how they can win. Most importantly, the travelling US fans which make up the largest foreign contingent, and resisting the vuvuzela wielding African fans which will all throw their support to Ghana.

 

Key Squad Members:

Goalkeeper Tim Howard  

Well known for his tourette syndrome and uncontrollable swearing, but even more for his excellent form for Everton and the US national team this tournament. With the Ghanaians lacking decisiveness in front of goal, his form could prove too much for them.

Michael Bradley

Organizes the US midfield, and arrives late in the penalty area to score vital goals. His Bundesliga experience with Borussia Moenchengladbach has taught him to be a consistent, organized player.

Clint Dempsey

A goal poacher who has the ability to make well masked runs into the opponents area and score. He was a linesman’s flag from two goals this tournament already, and scores bags of them in the Premiership with Fulham.

For all the complaining about the disallowed goals, he is also lucky for not having been sent off at least twice, as he is known for rather brutal fouls from time to time. His position on the field is unusual, and he can play in midfield, as a forward or winger. He is most effective playing further back though, thus having more space to make his attacking runs. His goalscoring could be fatal to Ghana.

Landon Donovan

A clever, dangerous schemer who scored the last gasp goal against Algeria allowing the US to finish top of the group. He is a World Class player, one who can make a goal out of nothing, and he is a genuine threat at any point in the game. When not making dangerous through passes to Altidore, he can dribble and score himself.

Jozy Altidore

Highly touted by the US media, but for all his speed, work rate and strength, he often lacks a good touch and some technique, making him easy to neutralize for an experienced defence like Ghana’s. If he succeeds today it will be due to bursts of athleticism and maybe a bit of luck.

 

Squad Analysis: Ghana

 

Unofficial Theme Song to Accompany Style of Play

With Africa’s hopes pinned on Ghana’s young shoulders, it needs to be a very good song, the best song. One Love by Bob Marley is perfect to inspire them to work together and resist the US onslaught!

Tactics  

Ghana have played with two attackers in a classic 4-4-2, with a lot of freedom for their wingers. Nothing should change against the US, although 4-5-1 is an option.

Strengths

This young team is full of phenomenal talent, where the youth are veterans. Their dribbling, creativity and unpredictability is a real strength. Additionally, the defense starts at the midfield with Annan and includes two excellent central defenders Vorsah and Mensah who dominate the opposition with security and consistency.

Weaknesses

Inconsistency, the trait that has plagued African teams in major competitions since the dawn of football. The youth of this team only makes them more susceptible to lose psychological battles with motivated opponents like the US. 

The support of the public will therefore be key. Sulley Muntari of Inter Milan is the most famous player, but probably the weakest performer for this Ghana team. Additionally, he blames the coach this is a psychological sore which could undermine team morale.

Key to beating US

Finally finding efficiency in front of goal, playing a notch more consistently than past 3 games, stopping the US attacks just like against Serbia, and letting the fans carry them to winning the psychological battle and ultimately victory for African football.

 

Key Squad Members

Richard Kingson

His abilities have always been controversial, he rose to stardom in the Turkish league, but ended up as a substitute at Birmingham and Wigan. However, he is a fantastic "big game" goalkeeper, capable of pulling off great saves for Ghana which he has done in 81 games for his country already. He really organizes the defence and his experience is important in a young Ghana team. If he manages brilliant saves or messy flops expect everything from this enigmatic player.

Jonathan Mensah  

A steady fixture in the Ghana defence and is known to be one of the best African defenders having starred for Rennes and then moving on to Sunderland. Isaac Vorsah is an outstanding defender from Bundesliga dark horse Hoffenheim, but has due to injury been replaced by the 19 year old Mensah of modest Spanish team Granada, who is rocketing to stardom. Whatever the lineup, the Ghanaian central defence has performed very very well.

Hans Sarpei

He has had a distinguished career in the German Bundesliga, and is excellent at completely stopping opposing wingers from succeeding in their attacks. Currently, he is with Bayer Leverkusen and he managed to tame and dominate the excellent Arjen Robben twice last season. He is having a bit of injury trouble though. 

Anthony Annan

The 23 year old is a real star in the Norwegian league and has been very convincing in filling the shoes of Ghana’s absent star Michael Essien in defensive midfield. He has boundless energy paired with sharp passing and fantastic defensive coverage. He is proving one of the revelations of the tournament.

Kwadwo Asamoah

The 22 year old Udinese star has to learn consistency, but otherwise is missing nothing in terms of power, technique and talent. He is a threat for any opponent as an attacking midfielder but could learn concentration and consistency from Landon Donovan.

Kevin Prince Boateng

Another young gun, at age 23, Boateng adds the necessary muscle to the Ghana midfield, and is an attacking midfielder with a free role who is better at shooting and winning one on one battles for the ball than many of his colleagues. He used to play for the German under 21 team, and his brother Jerome is in the German World Cup side as a right wingback. Kevin’s career is exploding as he was one of the few high points in Portsmouth’s relegation-condemned season, and has been an important player for Ghana in South Africa.

Gyan Asamoah

The 24 year old striker is a already veteran on this team, and is a very talented, very enigmatic forward, who scores beautiful goals.  He has been a label of inconsistency though. He plays for Rennes in France, and scored what many consider the goal of the season (can be found on youtube here ). He has been something of a failure this World Cup, but is always a threat for his magical goals

Expected Result

2-2 and penalties.

A Slight Surprise  

Either team wins convincingly in regular time, as this will be a tight battle.

A Real Shocker

A 0-0 draw would really be an achievement as both teams play with substantial energy.

Obi Wan Asterix Says

Ghana must, and will win this to advance to the Quarter Finals and tie Africa’s record. 2-1.

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