2014 World Cup: Ghana vs. USA: SIX things we learned

The United States men’s national team defeated Ghana 2-1 on Monday night in its opening game of the 2014 World Cup on the strength of goals from Clint Dempsey and John Anthony Brooks.

After going up 1-0 in the first minute of play on Dempsey’s strike, the Americans conceded an equalizer in the 82nd minute. Then, in a thrilling finish, the U.S. found the winner in the 86th minute on a header from Brooks.

Here are six things we learned from the match.

Clint Dempsey’s Goal Was Individual Brilliance: 

Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey

There isn’t much to say about Dempsey’s opening goal against Ghana, other than it was simply brilliant. After receiving the ball outside the Ghanaian box, Dempsey beat a defender and then, before help arrived, calmly slotted home a beautiful left-footed finish only 31 seconds into.

Jermaine Jones Got Away with One: 

Sulley Muntari

Sulley Muntari

Just before the half, the fears of many USMNT fans nearly came true when Jermaine Jones kicked out at Sulley Muntari.

The infraction was apparently not seen by the center official, and Jones did not receive so much as a yellow card. It could have been much, much worse.

To be fair, Jones had a good game covering loads of ground and putting in a great effort overall. However, those small moments of unreliability have popped up before in Jones. Going forward, he needs to stay in control for the good of the team.

Jozy Altidore’s Hold-Up Play Was Missed:

Jozy Altidore

Jozy Altidore

When Jozy Altidore was in his scoring slump, many continued to praise his hold-up play—which at many times was excellent. However, some fans, wanting to see goals, rarely recognized and sometimes even mocked those who praised Altidore for his “hold-up” play.

It was evident on Monday night, once Jozy was forced to leave the match, how valuable his play really is to the U.S. When he left the game in the first half, the man many fans clamored to replace him up top, Aron Johannsson, was put into the lineup.

And while Johannsson is no doubt a skilled and extremely technical player, he simply couldn’t provide the physical presence up top that the U.S. needed to transition out of the defensive third. This was especially obvious through most of the second half when the U.S. were pinned back deep in their own end for long stretches.

The Defensive Effort Was Fantastic

Rabiu attacking

Rabiu attacking

While the U.S. did concede a late equalizer, no one could question their effort during the game. The defense played well for most of the 90 minutes and the midfield (especially Jones, Kyle Beckerman and Alejandro Bedoya) worked extremely hard to cover nearly every blade of grass on the field.

Matt Besler was having a great game before coming off with an injury, Geoff Cameron was solid and DaMarcus Beasley, while tested repeatedly, also made a number of important plays.

What an Appearance for John Anthony Brooks

John Brooks

John Brooks

Back in March, after a disastrous performance against Ukraine, few would have predicted that John Anthony Brooks would have even made the World Cup roster, let alone play the hero in the team’s opening match against an opponent that knocked it out of the World Cup two times in a row.

Coming into the game for an injured Besler, Brooks did have one particularly shaky moment in the 51st minute when an awful clearance almost gifted Ghana an equalizer, but he worked his way into the match, providing a number of vital clearances, and then went on to score the game-winning goal deep into the second half.

The game was Brooks’ first appearance for the United States in an official FIFA tournament, and he played the hero role perfectly.

Did Jurgen Klinsmann Get It Right?

Jurgen Klinsmann

Jurgen Klinsmann

United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann can be given credit for a number of positives in his tenure as head coach, but one has to wonder whether he got it right on Monday.

His tactics (especially finding a way to get Beckerman, Jones and Bradley onto the field in a cohesive and effective scheme) seemed solid until Altidore was forced to leave the match, at which point it appeared he changed the U.S. into a 4-4-2. From that point on, the U.S. struggled to hold possession of the ball or generate any sort of transition in the middle third of the field.

The fact that three separate players also were forced to leave the game with apparent muscle pulls left much to question as well. Klinsmannpushed fitness in the U.S.’ World Cup preparation, but perhaps he overdid it, as Besler, Altidore and Bedoya all had to be pulled from the match due to non-contact injuries.

It certainly could have been bad luck, and it’s tough to be hard onKlinsmann considering the U.S. got a result, but the injuries forced the U.S. into early substitutions, and the team went into a defensive shell far too early. The Ghanaians clearly dominated possession in the second half, and the U.S. were forced to ride their luck as Ghana missed shot after shot.

American fans should feel good after seeing their team finally defeat the Black Stars, but in the sober light of the morning, they’ll still have to admit they did get a bit lucky.

 

 

READERS COMMENTS

  1. kci says:

    There is just one thing Ghana can learn about the worldcup. There is no Kumasi in Brazil

  2. Koo Tee says:

    But for selection headache,the boys did well in terms of ball possession.WE need to complement that skill(holding on to the ball) to scoring goals.BUT Its tough now.Can we match the Germans? Ye …. s hmmmmm!!! we ca… n. The yes and can are not convincing enough(laugh it off)God dey!!!!

    • Jonathan says:

      Thats what Ive been saying since the gake ended, Ghana was boss yesterday, US had no choice but to defend throught the whole second half because our boys were too skillfull and strong, but as the writer said, they got lucky with the winning goal, but thats the beauty of football, anything can happen.

  3. AfrikaBoy says:

    We lost the game in the 1st minute and the last 5 minutes while we controlled most of the game. We were the superior team, but that does not mean anything if you Center Back is giving away cheap goals like this.

    There is no way this guy should dribble his way into the box like that. There is no way a guy should walk in free for a header like that. Simply unforgivable!!

  4. Dr edusei says:

    Early goal against Ghana when they played Bosnia and now USA. This is just incredible. This is the answer. At the beginning of matches, the defenders should pressure in ball in our half and long balls inside. No passes in the back until you settle. This passing from the back bullshit is letting in too many goals. Same thing against bokina faso in the African cup of nations. Rabin/montari combination is not fluid at all. We qualified our previous 2 World Cup with 1 loss, in fact last one with 4 points. Let’s go Ghana.

  5. Anna says:

    Let be calm and support our boys to the end

  6. K.K. says:

    I don’t think the Coach got it right by starting Jordan Ayew. In matches like this we don’t do experiment, Kwesi like this kind of experiments too much and that is his problem. All our players are good but in such situations tactical is always important and that makes you win and not dribbling and playing nice. how can you say that you wanted your opponent to get tired before bringing in your top class players? I think tactically Kwasi always have it wrong.

  7. This is the analysis the US has made about their team. Why cut it and paste it here? What has Ghana learnt about our team especially our porous defense and wasteful attack from this defeat? That is what we want to read not the lessons the Americans have made about their team.
    When we cried against Ghana camping in America you guys thought we were crazy.
    These America played no nothing yet they beat us. They had figured our team out. Their coach just stayed behind with his technical men to watch our game after his team departed for Brazil. They just outsmarted us tactically. Like they put if here, “they out-coached us”.