USA vs. Africa

The US for the first time in this tournament will play in a game with nothing to lose. Yes the US might be slight favorites to advance over Ghana, but even if the US team loses it will be seen as a successful World Cup in which they played well and demonstrated immense resolve. But free of the pressure of expectations, this is when the US team has historically been its most successful and most dangerous.

While the US should be care free, the Ghanaians will play representing an entire continent. As the only African team to advance out of their group, the Ghanaians have taken on the mantle of Africa’s team and they will likely be embraced as such by the South African fans. In short, the US are not going to be just taking on Ghana they are taking on Africa. But how Ghana plays under the pressure of such expectations is an open question. Despite expectations that South African crowds would lift each African team, the fact is that almost all of the African teams have been real disappointments thus far. Ghana advanced, but did so despite losing their last game and were aided by Australia’s surprise victory over Serbia.

As for the game itself, Ghana has shown little going forward. Ghana has continued the trend of African teams resorting to playing highly defensive tactical soccer. When going forward they have shown a reticence to throw men forward and they have lacked the technical quality to unlock defenses when being out numbered in the attack. However, their lone striker Asamoah Gyan can be a handful as Serbia learned in the first game and is capable of beating defenders and getting behind the backline.

Ghana play a 4 -2-3-1 formation and the US may struggle to retain possession, as the US has frequently struggled when they have been out-manned in the central midfield. As a result, the US should play with Maurice Edu over Ricardo Clark as the holding player and should play Benny Feilhaber on the left – although with the expectation that Feilhaber will cut in offensively.

Ghana is a team the US is capable of beating and this match represents a huge opportunity for the US to put together a historic World Cup run. But doing so will require the US to play the fearless and relentless soccer that they are becoming known for.


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