An unjust penalty kick awarded by an official, a mistake in the starting lineup made by the head coach, and a brief defensive lapse in overtime; these three things are what cost the United States Men’s National Team in their last two matches against Ghana, knocking them out of the last two World Cups. These are three things that will haunt the U.S. and their fans for a long time to come. But with the Americans set to open up the 2014 World Cup against Ghana, they have a chance to exorcise their demons and put those losses behind them.
Heading into the World, Ghana was the last team the U.S. wanted to see in their group, but now that they are, the Americans have to embrace yet another showdown with the Black Stars. Instead of fearing Ghana and lamenting their upcoming matchup, the Americans need to embrace the opportunity to get redemption for the shortcomings they’ve had against Ghana in the past and the losses they’ve suffered as a result.
After all they accomplished in 2013, this isn’t the same U.S. team that has been knocked out by Ghana in the last two World Cups. They have a better coach, a deeper roster, and more confidence after all they’ve accomplished under Jurgen Klinsmann. Despite their tough draw, the U.S. is in better shape to make a deep run in a World Cup than they ever have before, especially if they can use their past failures against Ghana as motivation when they face the Black Stars in their opening match this summer.
If nothing else, the Americans can take solace in the fact that they open up next summer’s World Cup against Ghana in a match that’s important but won’t eliminate the U.S. from the tournament if they lose like their previous World Cup matchups with Ghana. The U.S. knows that no matter what result they get against Ghana, they will have at least two more matches left to play, and so they don’t have to worry about the Black Stars knocking them out for a third straight World Cup.
Without that added pressure, perhaps the third time will be the charm for the Americans, and they will take advantage of the chance they have to exorcise their past demons against Ghana and get off to a fast start in the 2014 World Cup.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.