U.S.A. vs. Ghana
2014 FIFA World Cup, Group Stage
Monday, June 16; 3 pm PT; Estadio das Dunas; Natal, Brazil
TV: ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision
The U.S. National Team meets Ghana on Monday for the third consecutive World Cup in the first match of the 2014 tournament.
Here are four buzzwords to know for the U.S as it begins World Cup play on Monday in Natal, Brazil.
The U.S. will have a double-dose of revenge on their minds after Ghana eliminated the Americans in each of the last two World Cups. In 2006, it was in the final Group Stage match in Germany as the U.S. ended its tournament after just three matches. After a rigorous path through the Group Stage in 2010, Ghana awaited in the Round of 16. The U.S. battled back from an early deficit to force extra time, only to drop the match 2-1 when Asamoah Gyan scored in the opening minutes of overtime and the U.S couldn't mount a second comeback.
Those matches will be at the forefront in the buildup to the Group Stage match on Monday.
U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has used varying lineups and formations in all of the recent friendlies that have built up to Monday's match. A key component to those tactics has been the midfield, where Klinsmann has deployed a diamond at some times, and at others a five-man group that has alternately looked like a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3. Each formation brings with it different lineup possibilities. In the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3, Klinsmann used the dreadlocked duo of Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones as a defensive midfield pair, and Clint Dempsey as a wide midfielder with Michael Bradley acting in a free attacking role. In the diamond, he had Dempsey up front with Jozy Altidore – who scored his first two goals of 2014 in the last friendly against Nigeria – and Graham Zusi as a wide attacking force along with either Alejandro Bedoya or Brad Davis.
How Klinsmann pieces together that midfield will be a telltale sign of Klinsmann's strategy for the U.S. against Ghana.
This is the first match of the World Cup for both sides. Four years of buildup leads to this match, and both countries will be at full-tilt with their emotions as their hopes hinge so greatly on the result. The favorites to advance from the group are Germany and Portugal, so a loss for the U.S. against Ghana could be crushing with the European superpowers waiting in the final two matches. Meanwhile, a win could give just enough momentum to help against Portugal in the second match on June 22.
There are 17 players on the U.S. who have never been on a World Cup team. They will lean heavily on the experience of players like Dempsey, Bradley and Tim Howard, who are each in their third World Cups. Players like John Anthony Brooks, Julian Green and Sounders FC defender DeAndre Yedlin may not have high expectations on them for this World Cup, but Aron Johannsson (23), Timothy Chandler (24) and Mix Diskerud (24) all will play various roles for Klinsmann and need to be ready to contribute right away.