Third time’s the charm, right? The United States Mens National Team (USMNT) think so.
Later this evening, the USMNT will face a familiar opponent in Ghana. For the past two World Cups it was Ghana who knocked the Americans out of the tournament. In 2006, USA needed a win against the African team to get past the group stages but fell to them 2-1. In 2010 they met in the first round of the knockout stage and once again fell to Ghana 2-1.
This is a new USMNT roster, with ex-German coach Jurgen Klinsmann taking over for Bob Bradley. Klinsmann made several changes since taking over and perhaps his most controversial move was to leave Landon Donovan off the 23-man squad heading to Brazil. It was a difficult one for every American soccer fan to grasp, however, if Klinsmann pulls off a win against Ghana, the idea of Donovan not being there to help the team out will fade away.
The USMNT has been showing signs of increased fitness and chemistry. In recent friendlies they played exceptionally well together and pressured the opposition till the last minute of play. However, a big question mark remains about the effectiveness of their new defense and if it will be able to cope with attacking superpowers Germany and Portugal, and even a fast paced Ghana.
In their recent friendly against Nigeria, Jurgen Klinsmann had his back line feature Fabian Johnson at right-back, DaMarcus Beasley at left-back, and Geoff Cameron alongside Matt Besler in the center. That defense held up the Nigerian attack well and we might see something similar tonight against Ghana.
In midfield, Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, and Alejandro Bedoya started alongside each-other in a 4-3-2-1 formation. They each played very well keeping possession away from Nigeria for most of the match. Bedoya began the play that led up to the first goal, where he crossed to Fabian Johnson who set up Jozy Altidore for the goal.
Every team has a triangle up top in their offense and the USMNT is no different. Their front three consists of Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore. This is a phenomenal set up and helps alleviate the confusion with leaving Donovan off the roster. Altidore plays in a sole striking position with not really any wing help out wide. Instead he has Bradley and Dempsey right behind him to set up a through ball or a short cross in. Donovan isn’t as dangerous as a striker as a wide forward and isn’t as aggressive as Altidore.
I would not be surprised if Klinsmann starts the same players that started against Nigeria a couple of weeks ago.
The USMNT is on a three-game winning streak with potential to be four after tonight.
Altidore has finally rediscovered his scoring touch and Ghana has a young inexperienced defense. This matchup later this evening might turn out to be a high scoring battle for the win unless either defense finds a way to hold itself up.