On June 16th, the United States and Ghana will travel to Estadio das Dunas to kick off their respective World Cup campaigns. These are the teams people are betting on finishing third and fourth in this group. They will both be looking to prove people wrong and advance from this extremely tough group. It may be the first game of the tournament, but this is a must win game for both teams. Both know that if they get anything other than three points their tournaments are all but over. This will make the game a very intense and hotly contested game. The winner has a chance to go through. The loser may as well start packing their bags.
Neither team has any major injuries to deal with for this game. It has been in doubt, but it looks like the United States will go with a back four of DeMarcus Beasley, Geoff Cameron, Matt Beasler, and Fabian Johnson.
- Ghana have ended the United States last two World Cups knocking them out in the round of 16 in 2010 and beating them in the US’s final group game in 2006.
- Ghana won both of the two teams’ previous World Cup meetings 2-1.
- Ghana have qualified for two World Cups and got past the group stage both times.
- If DaMarcus Beasley starts, as expected, the Puebla defender will become the first American to ever play in four World Cups.
- Ghana have only one player that plays in the Ghanaian domestic league, goalkeeper Steven Adams.
The key man for the Americans will be their beleaguered striker Jozy Altidore. Altidore endured a horrific season, after he made the move to Sunderland. The American striker had only one league goal in 30 appearances for the Black Cats. After a fantastic 2012-2013 with both club and country, the former AZ man was poor for both in 2013-2014. The 24 year old scored his first goal of 2014 on June the seventh with a brace against Nigeria. Yet, after all that, Altidore has kept his spot as Jurgen Klinsmann’s number one striker. The striker’s brace will hopefully give him the confidence he needs to get back to scoring regularly. It is very tough to advance out of any group without a striker that scores regularly, much less this group.
The key man for Ghana will be Juventus wide man, Kwadwo Asamoah. Asamoah is a fantastic athlete as well as being technically gifted. The Ghanaian made 45 appearances for the Italian champions because of his quality and versatility. The former Udinese star can play wide as well as in central midfield. His ability to play wide can allow Ghana to defend narrow and then break with pace on the wings. Asamoah is arguably Ghana’s most talented player and his service into Asamoah Gyan could be key for the Black Stars.
Really both teams need the three points with matches against Germany and Portugal coming up. There is not much to split them, but Ghana have had the USA’s number in the past. Ultimately I think it will end in a draw and neither team will get the three points they desperately crave.