The two underdogs of Group D’s so called, “Group of Death”, square off against each other for an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup in a row.
The United States squad is hungry and desperately wants to prove themselves on the global state with new Coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “We’re really excited to start this off tomorrow,” Klinsmann told the media on Sunday.
Team USA will be without their all-time leading scorer in World Cup play in Landon Donovan this year. But despite his notable absence, the US squad is still ripe with talent. Jozy Altidore is coming off a two goal performance against Nigeria and his confidence is at an all time high. He seemed to fit perfectly with Seattle Sounders Forward, Clint Dempsey in that match. The Us will also have their long time rock, Tim Howard, back in goal this year. Howard’s play with the English Premier League’s Everton this year was excellent as he once again looked like a top 5 goalie.
Among the names I just mentioned, none will be as important as Toronto FC’s, Michael Bradley. Bradley will have the task of controlling the midfield and getting the ball from his defenders to his forwards as quickly as possible whether the US opts to play their newly implemented diamond formation or the more traditional 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2, Bradley will be the most important man on the pitch.
Bradley’s counterpart is Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng. Boateng, is one of the most advanced midfielders in the world. Boateng’s play will be the difference maker in this match. The US have no one comparable who can man the middle, float between the lines, place accurate passes or force his will on his opponents like Boateng can. If Boateng outplays Bradley, the US is in trouble.
Ghana has size and speed, especially with the Ayew brothers who are the most dangerous for the Black Stars on the counter attack. They are currently ranked #37 in the world, but most believe they are severely under ranked as they were ranked #23 in 2013, and are most certainly at this moment, a top 20 team in the world and in my opinion the class of Africa. The team is lead by Coach Kwesi Appiah who believes his team is “totally focused and looking forward to tomorrow’s game.” Appiah knows the key to his success is how well his athletic young striker, Asamoah Gyan plays. Gyan is the Black Stars all time leading goal scorer at only 28 years old. Gyan thinks is team will win because they are the more talented, technical and athletically superior team.
The weather could play an important factor as the game is being played in the coastal city of Natal, where tropical thunder storms have rocked the city for the past week. Early forecasts Monday call for torrential rain and wind.
Team USA believes the weather won’t be a factor and could even be to their advantage, “I think our preparation has been very good, we’re excited about the opportunity to play against Ghana, a top team.” Said US captain Clint Dempsey when asked about playing in the rain.
Thankfully, the US team has played in all types of conditions in qualifying. Rain, snow, thunder, lighting, you name it; “the yanks” have played in it. Klinsmann agreed when asked, but stayed steadfast on the subject, “If it’s raining, if its snow, if it’s thunder and lightning or whatever, this is about football.”
The game is set to kick off at 6:00PM EST at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil. It can be seen on ABC and in Spanish on Univision. If you want to live stream the match, simply go to WatchESPN here and here for a live stream in Spanish.