What We Learned From USA vs Ghana (1-2)

Defiance vs Resilience

The Ghanaians came in carrying the entire hopes of the continent on their shoulders. The Americans have that damn yankee never say die spirit. So it wasn’t going to be a quiet night.

This was one of those games that was impossible to take your eyes off. First Ghana attacked and really took the game to the States. And the States seemed to back off. This is a mistake on so many levels, not least because the States actually play better when they attack. They seem to be the ultimate ‘underdog’ side, constantly coming from behind, working if not so much on the skill of Dempsey and Donovan, then their gritted determination and absolute desire to win. But it seems as if they need to be under pressure in order to begin to show themselves.

And they were certainly put under pressure. Kevin Prince Boateng, who was a bit-part player for Tottingham and one of the useful job lot of players who somehow fought their way through the Portsmouth debacle, has been the standout player for Ghana, the personality that makes the team happen. His push from midfield has frightened teams and made things happen. His cut in and shot seemed to confuse the Americans and that was it. You felt that not only was the stadium behind them but the weight of Africa suddenly fell on Team USA.

If America were going to get back into the game, you felt it would have come from Dempsey or Donovan, and it came from both. Dempsey has a face for penalties, when he goes down he looks so plaintive and wronged that the ref feels almost morally obliged to give it. Donovan, being the super-ego in the team, converted the penalty.

After that it was a tense, but highly engaging back and forth affair. As normal time came to an end the tension was ramped up as both sides went for it. Ghana’s winner, when it came was outstanding, a long ball played into Gyan, who was flanked by two defenders, neither of whom was close or strong enough to throw him off balance. Gyan’s left foot shot was fantastic and you felt every ounce of power he put into it.

It Shoulda Been Us

You can’t help thinking that, but for a moment of goalkeeping insanity (although not quite up to Chilean goalkeeping suicide) and, let’s face it, two thoroughly shabby performances, Engerland should have been contesting this match against Ghana. Given Engerland’s paucity of ambition and skill, it’s hard to imagine them beating Ghana, but still, it shoulda been us.

50 Down 14 To Go, 14 Teams Remaining

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