By, Kyle Gibson
The day we have waited for (or dreaded) for months is finally here. Once again, the United States finds Ghana in its path at a FIFA World Cup finals. The Stars of West Africa are talented, dynamic, fast and most importantly, beatable. Here, in my humble opinion, are the three keys to the US coming out victorious in it’s first Group of Death match.
Survive the first 15 Minutes
In studying the US on film. Ghana’s technical staff has probably realized by now that the US back line is not so stellar. There are still problems with the combination of Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler centrally and the only player of the four with World Cup experience, DaMarcus Beasley, earned his caps as a midfielder. That’s why I think Ghana will press and attack the US hard to start the match, before this back four can find its footing. If the US can make it through the first 15 minutes without giving up a goal, the defense can breathe easier and relax, knowing it has stopped a significant effort from a top team.
Keep shape in Midfield
This thought hinges on whether or not Jurgen Klinsmann will roll out the lineup we saw against Nigeria. Klinsmann axed the 4-4-2 diamond for a 4-2-3-1 with both defensive midfielders, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman, playing just ahead of the defensive line. If Klinsmann wants to use that formation again, I’m worried about the positional discipline of Jermaine Jones. Jones can wander out of position at times, which could leave the fledgling back line exposed to players like Jordan Ayew and Asamoah Gyan.
If the 4-2-3-1 is indeed the formation, I think Clint Dempsey’s role is important as well. Dempsey’s unorthodox game can often be selfish, as Klinsmann himself has pointed out. He is playing behind Jozy Altidore in this new formation, which means he’s tasked with helping Jozy stay involved. Clint has scored against Ghana at the World Cup (2006), but if today becomes the Clint Dempsey show, it hurts chances at winning.
We know Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey will fill two of the attacking spots, but what about the other? I think this should be Alejandro Bedoya. Bedoya possesses ability going forward and is also conscientious about tracking back to help on defense, which will be crucial against Ghana. Mix Diskerud can be subbed into this spot if need be later on.
Play Possession oriented Soccer
Keeping Ghana off the ball will be very important and a healthy amount of possession can aid the US in that regard. More possession equals more chances as well. This is easier said than done against a side as quick and gifted as Ghana, but it can be done. Also, if Ghana wants to spring into counter attack, it essentially will have six defenders to deal with if Klinsmann sticks with the 4-2-3-1.
Here’s my projected US Starting lineup, in the formation I’ve been mentioning.
Tim Howard, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley, Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Alejandro Bedoya, Jozy Altidore.
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