PREVIEW: UNITED STATES - GHANA
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CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Friday, June 25, 2010
The United States men's national team returns to Rustenburg to meet the only African team in the Round of 16, in a rematch of the 2006 group stage game that saw the US ousted from the World Cup.

Four years and four days later, the Americans are intent upon not letting that happen again, and will look to ride the tide of their unprecedented performance in the opening three games.

Finishing on top of their group for the first time, Bob Bradley's crew churned out two gritty comebacks against England and Slovenia before booking their ticket into the knock-out stage in stoppage time against Algeria thanks to a historic goal from Landon Donovan.

Saturday afternoon's game sees Robbie Findley return from suspension and likely resume his role up top with Jozy Altidore.

Donovan and Clint Dempsey can expect to tend the flanks, while central midfielders Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu look to get the starting nod. If he indeed starts as a left midfielder, Dempsey will square off with his Fulham teammate John Pantsil.

Having been rested for the Algeria game, Oguchi Onyewu can expect to make a return to the backline with the usual suspects Steve Cherundolo, Jay Demerit and Carlos Bocanegra.

The Rennes defender will face the task of shutting down his club teammate Asamoah Gyan, positioned up top as a lone striker.

Making just their second appearance in the World Cup finals, the Black Stars are trying to follow up on their impressive debut in 2006 when they ousted the Americans by a score of 2-1 in their third group game, only to fall to the Brazilians in the knock-out stage.

In spite of the absence of star midfielder Michael Essien, coach Milovan Rajevac has guided the Ghanaians through a difficult group, defeating Serbia and drawing with Australia before putting up a fight against the Germans in a 1-0 loss.

Although managing only two goals on penalites in the three games, the tight and well-organized defense helped earn four points that were enough to finish second in group D just ahead of Australia on goal difference.

The respected Hungarian Viktor Kassai has been selected as referee after seeing duty in the encounters between Brazil and North Korea, and Mexico and Uruguay.

As accumulated yellow cards will not be cleared until after the quarterfinals, André Ayew, Anthony Annan, Jonathan Mensah, Prince Tagoe, Lee Addy and Isaac Vorsah could sit out the next match in case of an infraction and a win.

For the Americans, Cherundolo, Demerit and Dempsey also face the same scenario.
duriseti
Saturday June 26, 2010 3:20 pm
Findley and Clarke starting was a mistake.

Rarely do such team management mistakes show up so dramatically early on in the game.

BB has been safe from criticism because the team keeps stepping up. Buddle and Edu should have started. The problem is that anyone who watched the 3 first round games and has any soccer knowledge knows this. I don't care if Clark does well in training. The games are played at a faster pace and with so much more pressure.
cbb1217
Friday June 25, 2010 9:49 pm
I agree with Spector over Bornstein, but Bob loves Bornstein.
Ilya
Friday June 25, 2010 6:41 pm
Gooch is not good. But Bornstein? I'd prefer Spector but BB reluctant to play him in the left.
Tom
Friday June 25, 2010 6:37 pm
Cherundolo has, IMO, been the underrated force behind the team's success this year. He's better on the ball than many of our midfield prospects, seems to have best adjusted to the ball (likely because the Bundesliga has been playing with it for two years now) with his crosses, and has been excellent defensively.

On the other hand, Donovan has been a bit disappointing. Obviously, his crucial goals against Algeria and Slovenia make up for pretty much anything, but he just hasn't seemed to have the same work rate that he had in qualifying and the Confederations Cup. Probably a bit worn down after playing both in the Premiership and the first half of the MLS season. This may sound harsh, but he is the greatest player in American history, and with that title comes high expectations.

I hope he can play freely tomorrow and take on defenders 1 v 1. Can't say I like all this talk about reconciling with his ex-wife right now- that's gotta be a huge distraction, especially when it makes the front page of the NY Post.
cbb1217
Friday June 25, 2010 4:39 pm
This is a beatable Ghana team that has trouble finishing. I agree that Gooch is not fit and should sit. he seems to have gotten worse and never was fast. Hope the US can push through.
Youri Petrovich
Friday June 25, 2010 1:33 pm
Onyewu is out of form and should remain out of the side against Ghana. In the 2006 group match against Ghana it was Beasley's play that set up Dempsey's goal. At some point Saturday Bradley will need Beasely's experience, speed and tactical awareness to overcome Ghana.
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