Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup 2010 Game 50: Ghana 2, United States 1

Yes, well...we didn't think they would win it, but I am surprised the United States did not advance further.

Two things made the difference. The United States twice again gave up an early goal, first early in the game and then, again, early in the overtime period. In four games at this World Cup the United States played with the lead a grand total of about two minutes after the stoppage goal against Algeria. Mentally, physically, always pushing uphill costs you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Secondly, there was just a difference of individual skill at the striker level. Ghana's second goal came not just on a U.S. defensive breakdown but on a skillful finish from a Ghana player who kept his balance, controlled the ball and put it on goal with pace over a good keeper. The few shots that the United States had were at the keeper. Set pieces, normally a strength of the United States were few and far between and are, of course, harder to execute with tired legs.

There are no easy games in the World Cup, no mismatches any more. The bitterness of a loss is, perhaps, alleviated a bit by the fact that it was not on a huge mental lapse or a poor referee's decision but rather on getting beat squarely by a team that capitalized on the chances it had.

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