USA v Ghana: Jozy Altidore needs to score

Altidore needs to score against Ghahan

Here we go, the business end of the World Cup begins today. As we have discussed repeatedly, the US has a favorable draw but none of that matters unless it performs well and wins games. The Ghanaians are a quick side that play two holding midfielders that help clog up the middle and stiffle their opponents. The US needs to be sharp in defense and be sure to communicate and keep track of Ghana’s deep runners. The key for the US team, however, is for Jozy Altidore to turn his solid performances in the last couple of games into goals. Donovan, Dempsey, and Michael Bradley are having excellent tournaments, but for the US team to make some real noise today and beyond, Altidore must start putting the ball in the back of the net.

There are a lot of fascinating matchups in the second round – the Iberian clash of Spain v Portugal, another big European rivalry with Germany v England, a tantalizing match with lots of attacking flair in Argentina v Mexico. Don’t count out the USA v Ghana as one of the games of the round as the Ghanaians are playing for the entire continent and the Americans have provided virtually all of the drama of the group stage. American fans, lets be sure to enjoy this. We do want to win, of course, and our big players will have to show up and lead us into the quarterfinals.

Facing up against Ghana probably doesn’t need significant tactical adjustments from Bob Bradley. It will be interesting to see whether he pushes Dempsey up as a support striker and brings Benny Feilhaber in from the start. Its clear that the team has looked its most threatening when in this configuration. There concerns about his defensive qualities, but the scoreline shows that the team has scored three and conceded zero with him on the field. Maurice Edu has done well screening the defenders and Michael Bradley has really come on, controlling the play well from the middle. And Donovan should be as confident as he has ever been heading into a game.

If these players perform at the level they have set through this tournament, the difference maker will by Altidore. Jozy has played pretty well in all three games, with his form improving as the tournament went along. He had the US’s best chance against England, showing his power, pace, and skill to blow past Jamie Carragher and force an excellent save onto the bar from Robert Green. He made the game tying goal against Slovenia with his excellent knock down for Bradley to slot home. And he was a menace throughout the Algeria game and was instrumental in the winner. What he doesn’t have yet is a goal of his own. If Jozy scores today against Ghana, the US team is going to be hard to beat.

This game is one of the most significant games in US soccer history and each successive match will only grow in importance should the team win games. Wednesday’s win over Algeria was the US’s first ever win in the third game of the group stage. Our boys are trying again today to break another mark of never having won consecutive games in the World Cup. Whatever the result, US soccer fans should relish this moment. But there will come a time when Jozy will have the ball and probably the game on his foot. Let’s hope he finds the back of the net.


One Response

  1. Altidore: You’re spot on with this analysis.

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