Posted by Rojas @ 6:16 pm on June 24th 2010

Why we are going to lose to Ghana

Sorry to be a killjoy, but the analyst in me is thinking about this match in very different terms than the fan in me.

1. HISTORY. We don’t really have to wonder about how these teams will perform on the biggest stage of them all with everything on the line, because it happened just four years ago. We met Ghana in the final game of the group stage with the winner assured of advancement. Ghana did not dominate the match, but I think any neutral observer would say they outplayed us and deserved the victory. The US team is more seasoned this time out, but the roster is largely the same in several key positions.

2. WE AREN’T AS GOOD AS WE’RE TELLING OURSELVES WE ARE AT THE MOMENT. Lost in all the euphoria over Donovan’s dramatic goal is that we have not been playing well in this World Cup. England controlled a solid 70 minutes of the match against us and fully deserved their early goal; we stumbled into a draw through a goalie mistake and tenacious late defense. We then went down two goals to an inferior team through atrocious marking and earned a draw with a strong offensive half. And finally, in the biggest pressure game, we were held to an unlucky draw through regulation by another inferior team because we could not finish; were lucky not to give up ANOTHER early goal; and were bailed out when the best offensive play of the game was turned in by our goalkeeper. The media is yelping about “tenaciousness” and “mental toughness”, but what I see is a team that thinks it can show up unready and turn it on when it matters. We’re not anywhere near that talented. Ghana is in a whole other class, technically, than Slovenia and Algeria.

3. OFFICIATING. FIFA has lost their host country in the group stage for the first time ever and is desperate to see at least one African side perform well–it simply will not do to have the first African World Cup be the first one in the last several in which an African side doesn’t make the quarters. The bracket is open for a possible semis run and there is no team among the three with a political constituency soccer-wise to raise hell if they get screwed. I think Ghana has what it takes to beat us on the field, but let me put it this way: I will be staggered if we benefit from a controversial penalty in this game, and quite impressed if we get any meaningful close calls while the game is competitive.

Ghana 3:1 USA. :(

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