Winning your first game in the group stages of the World Cup makes it much easier because it gives teams the ability to play ahead, instead of playing catch-up. The U.S. Men’s National Team team will start the first game of their group stage and it comes against a team they are all too familiar with. The Ghana national team has knocked USA out of the last two World Cups. That being said, these two have history and it will continue on Monday when the two teams play in Natal.
Unfortunately, the U.S. and Ghana are not expected to make it past the group stages because Germany and Portugal are in the group, but either team will have the chance to pick up three crucial points, while Germany or Portugal could start in last place because they are also playing each other first. Although Cristiano Ronaldo has an injury, Portugal is still more talented than USA and Ghana. Tomorrow’s matchup is a must-win for both teams. For the USA, their schedule only gets harder from tomorrow’s match. The good news for USA is that it played Nigeria in the friendlies and they are awfully similar to Ghana.
For the Americans, this team has made it clear that they are built for the future. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann has stated that it is impossible for this American squad to win the World Cup, but this team has the makings of a Cinderella. The addition of German-Americans Fabian Johnson and Jermaine Jones have been important for the team. Although USA cut perhaps their most historical player of all time in Landon Donovan, the offense will be just fine led by Jozy Altidore, Mark Bradley and Clint Dempsey. Although the defense is composed of two converted offensive players, it helps that Tim Howard is back there in goal and that is huge considering he is one of the best goalkeepers in the country. The problem with this USA team is that it may be hard to score goals, as they play a 4-4-2 and they are a conservative squad.
For the Ghanaians, two players in particular will be returning and it will likely be their last ride. Asamoah Gyan and Kwadwo Asamoah are easily Ghana’s two best players and it is clear to see why. If American fans can remember, Gyan ultimately was the reason why the Americans went home in the 2010 World Cup. Asamoah is a midfielder and he makes an impact on both sides of the pitch. Juventus‘ Asamoah is entering his prime and he will give this American team fits if they can’t contain him.
These two teams are extremely even, but I believe the Americans will come away victorious with a score of 2-1. The Americans may be composed of predominately MLS players, but they are bringing back experienced players in Dempsey, Bradley, Altidore and Howard. These four players are the leaders on this team and they will play a huge role in deciding their team’s future. Kyle Beckerman has been a fun player to watch as a midfielder and he could be a huge x-factor in this game. If this game goes scoreless until late in the game, this will give the Americans the advantage. USA is a team full of grinders and the rainy weather in Natal will help them in that part of the game. Expect a tightly-contested matchup tomorrow.