By Josh Sippie @sippenator101 on June 21, 2014
The USMNT beat Ghana, but they didn't make it easy. Ghana controlled the game from the second minute to the 85th minute. Portugal is considered a much better team than Ghana, so the U.S. has work to do to ensure that they can pull some points out of this match. Here are five things to watch for going into the match.
Tim Howard has the ability to keep the USMNT in games all by himself. He did that in the game versus Ghana. The Ghanaian squad had three times as many dangerous attacks as the U.S. and twice as many shots. Howard is going to have to contend against an even better attacking force in Portugal.
With no Jozy Altidore, it falls to Aron Johansson to provide another legitimate striking option alongside Clint Dempsey. He was fairly nonexistent in the Ghana matchup, but then again, for the 85 minutes between goals, most of the USMNT was. Johansson has to become a presence against Portugal.
Portugal is going to be without two of their starting defenders (Pepe with a red card, Fábio Coentrão with an injury), so there should be plenty of attacking opportunities for the USMNT. But Dempsey can't do it alone, and they can't rely on a last-second set piece to claim the win. They have to attack consistently.
Supposedly Ronaldo is 100 percent now, but there's a Ghanaian witch doctor who'd beg to differ. The Germans contained the Portuguese star, and they cruised to a victory. The USMNT will have to do the same, but it obviously won't be easy. It's made easier due to the fact that Hugo Almeida is out, but Ronaldo can be otherworldly, even by himself.
Ghana had 59 percent possession against the U.S. That simply won't work against Portugal. They can't score if they don't have the ball, so obviously the more the U.S. controls the ball, the better their odds. Portugal will win if they out-possess the U.S. and there were times in the Ghana matchup where the U.S. couldn't keep the ball to save their lives. This is the biggest key to victory: control the ball.
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