FanDuel - WFBC

June 26, 2010

Africa’s Last World Cup Hope Is Ghana: The 6 African teams in the World Cup have been whittled to one, meaning that Ghana will carry a continent's hopes when it faces the United States in the Round of 16 on Saturday in Rustenburg. A victory over the United States would put Ghana in rare company, advancing it to the quarterfinals against either Uruguay or South Korea. Only two African teams have reached the quarters Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002. Neither reached the semifinals. New York Times columnist William Rhoden is rooting for Ghana: "If this were just a game, there is no question where my rooting interest would lie: Go U.S.A," he writes. "My heart was with the United States, but I was pulling for Africa."

posted by tommytrump to soccer at 09:19 AM - 38 comments

I moved Rhoden's link from my post to yours, since it fit better. I can see Rhoden's point, but his viewpoint ought to be against the law in this country regardless of the First Amendment and I hope he is deported immediately.

posted by rcade at 01:05 PM on June 26

My most soccer-obsessed friend believes the U.S. will win the World Cup within 20 years. I am inclined to agree with him. Are we nuts?

posted by rcade at 01:26 PM on June 26

As a neutral Canadian, I say that it is possible.

It really does depend on the success of MLS. If this World Cup pushes the MLS into another level of popularity that could be the 20-year tipping point.
It's the kids that are 5-10 years old right now that will be winning that World Cup, and if they really do have a professional league that is competitive (and a feeder system in their teens, like Canadian junior hockey), USA has the best combination of population and cultural mix to pull it off.

posted by grum@work at 01:54 PM on June 26

Goal !!

posted by tommytrump at 02:36 PM on June 26

Ghana looks scary fast.

posted by rcade at 02:41 PM on June 26

Goal! I'm changing my sons' names to Landon, Donovan and Dempsey.

posted by rcade at 03:50 PM on June 26

Both teams look tired as all hell. These last 15 minutes have been sluggish to say the least.

posted by Mobley at 04:13 PM on June 26

Looked to me like a close, but good, defensive tackle. Reverse the roles, and I'll wager no penalty would have been called.

BTW, I thought the Italians left -- I've seen a lot of diving and whining from the Americans.

posted by jjzucal at 04:14 PM on June 26

I assume that Dempsey is Italian on his mother's side. ;)

posted by grum@work at 04:21 PM on June 26

Beautiful Goal !

posted by tommytrump at 04:28 PM on June 26

That was some high-quality stalling by the Ghanaians. I didn't know you could break a leg and fracture a spleen from the air that hits you as an opposing player runs past.

I'm tired of hearing that the U.S. has young players and a bright future. That old chestnut gets trotted out every four years when we lose.

posted by rcade at 05:04 PM on June 26

Altidore should have been switched out in the second half. He was noticeably limping coming off the field in the first half, and he never really got on track.

posted by grum@work at 05:06 PM on June 26

I'm not used to seeing the U.S. lose so many balls in the air. It seemed like every header in the box was won by Ghana. It's a shame we didn't have Gooch.

posted by rcade at 05:11 PM on June 26

I'm tired of hearing that the U.S. has young players and a bright future. That old chestnut gets trotted out every four years when we lose.

Methinks that happens in every country every four years round this time.

posted by boredom_08 at 05:41 PM on June 26

Good game to watch there tipped to the Ghanaians because they finished better. Bradley, Altidore and Findlay all had decent chances and couldn't take them, while Gyan gets under a high punt from the back, rides a bump in the back from Bocanegra and fires home.

Despite the similar ending (one goal defeat to Ghana), this was better than 2006 - got out of the group and Bradley looks a lot better than late-era Bruce Arena who looked bemused, clueless and out of his depth when the 06 Ghana game was seeping away from him.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 05:56 PM on June 26

The better team won. Bradley and his players deserve kudos for the push that started the second half and led to the penalty, though addressing a flawed team selection meant fewer options on the bench later on. Altidore looked like a crocked Emile Heskey for most of the match, and there was an 'bad England' vibe to the side: while Ghana were always looking for width coming out through midfield, and their passing ability allowed them to stretch the play, the US midfield was compressed and suffocated.

As much as John Harkes annoys me, he made the very basic point that you can't repeatedly give your opponents early goals and expect to progress. Ghana have been patchy, but they took their chances today, and the game with Uruguay should be a lot of fun.

My most soccer-obsessed friend believes the U.S. will win the World Cup within 20 years.

I won't go that far, because history suggests it takes effort, talent, luck -- and, frankly, being the hosts -- for a new winner to break through. I've said before that I think they're a team that could easily make a run to the semis if things fall their way, and nothing about this campaign dissuades me.

posted by etagloh at 06:10 PM on June 26

Ah, I feel for you USAians. I was really enjoying the ride.

Now you have to wait another 4 years to take another crack at it? Man, this IS a big deal.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:25 PM on June 26

The U.S. outplayed Ghana from the start of the second half up to around the 70th minute. I thought Ghana looked gassed at the half and expected the U.S. to get the second goal before extra time.

But you can't say that Ghana got lucky. They made the most of the opportunities they had and were the better team the first half. Tim Howard also got outplayed by Richard Kingson.

It's a disappointment to me because we didn't win a knockout game, but the way the U.S. played its four games was something to be proud of. If only we could break the habit of spotting teams an early goal to make things more interesting!

The countdown to 2014 begins.

posted by rcade at 06:25 PM on June 26

Only got to see the extra time - was the US totally gassed or were they trying long passes and bad crosses the entire game? Because that totally wasn't working to get them back in the game.

posted by kokaku at 07:16 PM on June 26

They weren't gassed until the last 10-20 minutes of regular time. They had a half-dozen strong opportunities in the second half and converted one.

posted by rcade at 07:22 PM on June 26

Only got to see the extra time - was the US totally gassed or were they trying long passes and bad crosses the entire game? Because that totally wasn't working to get them back in the game.

In the first half the 4-2-HUGE GAP-4 Bradley prefers wasn't working at all and it was largely long ball stuff from the US - when they could get the ball. The pre-game analysis took a look at Ghana's lineup and guessed a 5-3-2, but they went for something more like a high pressing 4-5-1 and they ran midfield, keeping the ball well, shutting down Bradley and Clark when they got the ball, forcing them to punt it long.

Bradley made a couple of changes to move to something like a 4-5-1 himself and close the gaps in his midfield and then the US started to run the game at the start of the second half and the equaliser was always coming. Ghana were the ones holding on for a while.

An early goal for Ghana in extra time gave the Africans some adrenaline to fuel their legs, but both teams looked tired and the US were trying to chase the game on empty tanks with no forward on the field of the type who could hold the ball and allow players to catch up - Gomez just isn't that guy.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 08:23 PM on June 26

Great game - glad I got up at 4.30 am, even if I have to play myself later today.

My most soccer-obsessed friend believes the U.S. will win the World Cup within 20 years.

Pele once predicted that an African team would win the World Cup by the end of the century. Last century.

Still, the US has more registered football players than any other country. That will count for something, along with money that can be pumped into coaching and organisation, which will give you an advantage that many other nations will envy. Who's to say it won't happen? A US - China World Cup final isn't beyond the bounds of possibility before I go to the great fourth official in the sky.

posted by owlhouse at 09:27 PM on June 26

That will count for something, along with money that can be pumped into coaching and organisation, which will give you an advantage that many other nations will envy.

Possibly, though I think Tim Vickerey's arguments carry some weight: first, that the Conmebol qualification league and Copa America provide top-level international experience and create incentives for extended team-building, something that CONCACAF, the SPL of confederations, is never likely to deliver; second, that the best South American players bring street-football genius and hold onto it through the academy system.

He's obviously partial to the South American game, and it's perhaps an over-romanticising of street/park play, but the romantic in me would like to think that he's right.

posted by etagloh at 10:12 PM on June 26

Regardless of the Ghana loss, I think the drama of the U.S. run this year and the camaraderie of the fans in public gatherings and across social media has given soccer a big boost in this country. Landon Donovan's last-second goal is one of the greatest moments of the year in sports. I'm a late convert, but soccer has become my favorite sport. I wish I had known this as a kid in the '70s playing baseball, basketball and football year after year. The one time I tried soccer I couldn't tell the difference between fullback and forward. It hampered my development a bit.

posted by rcade at 10:58 PM on June 26

That was some high-quality stalling by the Ghanaians.

No, that is World Cup Class stalling and flopping. The refs did nothing to get the Ghana players moving, not even during the last substitution when the Ghana player shook the hand of every team mate on the pitch before he walked off. And that is World Cup Class referee failure.

There was an earlier thread asking about why soccer has never taken off in the US as it has in other countries. It seems that the terrible refereeing and the worse behavior of players and whole teams in this World Cup and other FIFA events is common. It's really not fun to watch, because that behavior, that refereeing, trumps talent and training. So whats the point?

posted by irunfromclones at 02:55 AM on June 27

He's obviously partial to the South American game, and it's perhaps an over-romanticising of street/park play, but the romantic in me would like to think that he's right.

I agree with you. Twenty years ago every national team had a distinct style of play. But globalisation of the game has brought with it a kind of standardisation. The top players all ply their trade in Europe, there's world wide access to high level coaching and tactical information, and things like talent identification schemes mean that professional training is available at increasingly younger ages. It's hard to pin down any differences in style these days - Brazil haven't played jogo bonito since 1986 and they are as ruthless and efficient as the Europeans. South American romance died for me when Argentina fouled their way to the final in 1990, and Brazil won on penalties four years later with a midfield that looked like a brick wall.

posted by owlhouse at 03:57 AM on June 27

Did the departing Ghana player really shake anyone's hands? The ABC announcer said that he did, but I thought he was being sarcastic, because all I saw was him walking slowly.

posted by rcade at 08:13 AM on June 27

I didn't see any excessive hand shaking, either.

Looking back at the game, if you were putting together a textbook for a striker playing in a 4-5-1 formation, you'd just insert a video of Asamoah Gyan's performance. The guy was brilliant for almost 120 minutes - and the second goal was sublime, especially how he got between the two central defenders, held them off and scored.

posted by owlhouse at 05:46 PM on June 27

The U.S. was a different team when it fell behind and couldn't wait for opportunities on the counterattack. I wonder if things would have been different against Ghana if we pressed the attack from the start, testing an extremely young team. One early goal might have rattled them.

So far, we're the only favorite to lose this round.

posted by rcade at 06:04 PM on June 27

I thought it was a good game and a fair win. I'm bummed my team lost but I'll be rooting for Ghana the rest of the way.

posted by Hugh Janus at 07:16 PM on June 27

It seems that the terrible refereeing and the worse behavior of players and whole teams in this World Cup and other FIFA events is common. It's really not fun to watch, because that behavior, that refereeing, trumps talent and training. So whats the point?

And yet basketball is an extremely popular sport in the United States.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:40 PM on June 27

There was an earlier thread asking about why soccer has never taken off in the US as it has in other countries. It seems that the terrible refereeing and the worse behavior of players and whole teams in this World Cup and other FIFA events is common. It's really not fun to watch, because that behavior, that refereeing, trumps talent and training. So whats the point?

I would guess those reasons rank somewhere around 938 and 939 in reasons 1-1000 why soccer hasn't taken off in the states. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are some potential fans put off by those reasons, but if i went to the local mall and started asking people why they don't watch soccer, I'd be there a long time waiting for those answers.

I don't claim to now the reasons why soccer hasn't taken off in the states, but I don't believe most have watched enough soccer to even realize those two problems exist.

Besides, as YYM says, I find mlb umpiring to be horrendous and getting worse; that would never put me off a game I love.

posted by justgary at 01:11 AM on June 28

Bradley should not have started Clark, who did not do near enough in first round games, Edu would have made all the difference early on.

Still waiting to hear why Onyewu was on the bench.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:41 AM on June 28

So far, we're the only favorite to lose this round.

I never thought the US were favorites in this match. I saw it as a true toss up since Ghana was playing on African soil.

posted by trox at 11:47 AM on June 28

AT game time, I thought Onyewu was out on yellows but it seems he was just left off the starting eleven. I don't know what to think of Bradley right now. On one hand, his change of shape at half seemed to spur on the comeback. On the other hand, the questionable starting lineup made a comeback necessary.

posted by tron7 at 12:59 PM on June 28

Still waiting to hear why Onyewu was on the bench

Because he was involved in at least 3 goals during the first round, all of them against the US? He was incapable of staying on his line.

posted by yerfatma at 03:23 PM on June 28

Fatty, you may be correct but I would still like to have someone in the know say it. Ives Galarcep, for instance, wrote that he thought it was due to his not quite healed knee.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:47 AM on June 29

I also thought he was dropped for being repeatedly pulled out of position.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 12:50 PM on June 29

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