Well, here we are, déjà vu all over again. For the third consecutive World Cup, the U.S. Men’s National Team is set to play Ghana on the world’s biggest stage at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The Black Stars have knocked out the Americans of the previous two World Cups, so will the third time finally be the charm for the U.S. against the African giants?
Unlike the previous two meetings that eliminated the U.S. from the tournament, the loser of this match will not be sent packing, as it’s the opening match of the group stage for each team. However, with the U.S. and Ghana being a part of the Group of Death at this year’s World Cup, and with world superpower Germany likely to secure passage to the knockout stage, getting a positive result from this match is essential for both teams. A loss for either side would be devastating, which is why the American’s World Cup hopes hinge on getting points from the opening match against Ghana.
Confidence among American soccer fans isn’t necessarily high after the U.S. has been knocked out of the last two World Cups by Ghana, but the results of those last two matches are misleading. Both were highly competitive matches that could have gone either way. Ghana doesn’t necessarily have the Americans number the way fans believe they do, and the Black Stars are a much less intimidating team than they were four years ago.
Despite some young talent, the core of the Ghana team that knocked out the U.S. four years ago is much older, and potentially past its prime after a trip to the World Cup quarterfinals four years ago. The Black Stars have also had some lackluster friendly performances heading into the 2014 World Cup. Meanwhile, the U.S. has built up some momentum with three straight wins heading into the tournament, including an impressive victory against one of Africa’s other giants, Nigeria.
If ever there were a chance for the U.S. to exorcise its demons against Ghana, it could be now, and the third time could be the charm, as the teams find themselves facing one another for the third consecutive 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.