First, let’s just enjoy this moment of pleasant anticipation. The U.S. is on the brink of something very special, but only if they show up to play tomorrow. Indications are they will.
- Expect to see the return of Rico Clark. The Ghanaians get forward in numbers and with pace, and Clark is just the right guy to clog up that middle ground above the American area. (Well actually Jermaine Jones, but we’ve crossed that bridge.)
- Expect Bornstein again on the left, as Gooch will be deemed to slow for all this pace. Also expect a horror show, as Bornstein can’t deal with Prince Tagoe out there. Luckily, Ghana’s forte has not been getting numbers forward and finishing crosses, yet. Let’s hope they don’t start on Saturday.
- I think the short turnaround is a great thing for the U.S, in this situation. They’re still high off the emotion of the Algeria win, ad ready to come out aggressive and take it to Ghana. They haven’t had too much time to think about the heights they’re at now.
- Has anyone heard from or seen Giuseppe Rossi lately? What about Neven Subotic?
Prefer to play for stringer soccer nations, do you? Both of them could still be in South Africa, and starting tomorrow. But no, U.S. soccer doesn’t match up. Get used to it, guys. This is gonna happen plenty to you in future World Cups, too. Enjoy the knockout rounds from your couch instead of the field.
- The referee tomorrow is Hungarian. Seems like an indifferent choice. Let’s just hope that’s the last we talk about that.
And before the game kicks off, a few more quick bits of info courtesy of the good, and thorough, people at the USSF:
- The USA won its group at the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1930 (that’s 80 years ago), and for the first time ever in a four-team group. The win against Algeria marked the first point and win for the U.S. in the third group game at the World Cup in eight tries.
- The 1-0-2 record also represents the first time the United States has gone unbeaten in group play during a World Cup.
- Tim Howard posted the first shutout by a U.S. goalkeeper in the World Cup since the famous 2-0 victory against Mexico on June 17, 2002, in the Round of 16 in Korea/Japan.
- Tournament rules provide that all 23 players dress for FIFA World Cup matches.
- Both teams will have a full complement of players from which to select. Robbie Findley returns from a one-match ban for yellow card accumulation served for the Algeria match.
- The meeting with Ghana marks the third match for the U.S. against an African team in the World Cup, all which have come in the past two tournaments. The U.S. also faced Ghana in 2006 in Germany, and defeated their only other African opponent, Algeria, this past Wednesday.
- Landon Donovan’s 91st minute goal against Algeria made him the only American player to score multiple goals in two World Cups. His second-half goal against Slovenia a week ago sparked the U.S. comeback, and the USA’s all-time leader in scoring also netted twice in 2002 against Poland and Mexico.
- Donovan’s fourth FIFA World Cup goal ties him with Bert Patenaude (all in the 1930 World Cup) for most by a U.S. player in a career.
- Donovan became the third U.S. player to score in multiple World Cups, joining Clint Dempsey (who reached that feat with the tying goal on June 12 against England) and former U.S. forward Brian McBride.
- Donovan collected his 11th World Cup cap, tied for first on the U.S. all-time list with Cobi Jones and Earnie Stewart.
- He has started in every World Cup match for the U.S. since 2002. Steve Cherundolo has started all six of the USA’s previous World Cup matches dating back to 2006.
- With his appearance against Algeria, DaMarcus Beasley increased his World Cup cap total to seven games.
- Conversely, 12 different U.S. players have made their World Cup debut in 2010: Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Bornstein, Michael Bradley, Edson Buddle, Ricardo Clark, Jay DeMerit, Maurice Edu, Findley, Herculez Gómez, Stuart Holden, Howard and José Torres are the other World Cup debutants.
- Eight players started all three group matches for the USA: Altidore, Carlos Bocanegra, Bradley, Cherundolo, DeMerit, Dempsey, Donovan, and Howard. On that list, everyone except Altidore has played every minute of the first two matches.
- Against England, Findley became the first U.S. player to start a World Cup game for the U.S. after not participating in the qualifying cycle since Pablo Mastroeni started against Portugal to open the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
- The shutout against Algeria was the first for the U.S. in all matches since Sept. 9, 2009, when the U.S. beat Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 in Port of Spain, a string of 12 games.
- Nineteen of the 23 players on the U.S. World Cup Team appeared in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying for the U.S., although only eight appeared in at least half of the USA’s qualifiers (Altidore, Beasley, Bocanegra, Bradley, Dempsey, Donovan, Howard and Oguchi Onyewu).
- The U.S. squad carries a variety of World Cup experience into South Africa, as 15 players have been named to their first World Cup roster. Meantime, six players had played in a World Cup game prior to South Africa. Cherundolo, Donovan, and Beasley have earned a place in their third World Cup.
- Sixteen players on the roster have scored at least one international goal, and eight have scored in 2010: Altidore, Bradley, Bocanegra, Buddle, Dempsey, Edu, Gómez, and Clarence Goodson.
- Buddle became the most recent debutant on a U.S. scoresheet, netting a pair in the USA’s 3-1 win against Australia on June 5 in Roodepoort. He is the first player to score his first two goals in the same game since Sacha Kljestan posted a hat trick on Jan. 20, 2008, against Sweden.
- Donovan’s assist against Australia increased his record-setting total to 45 for his career.
- Howard finished the 2010 qualifying cycle with six clean sheets in 13 appearances and a 0.92 goals against average.
- By earning 45 minutes against Australia, Marcus Hahnemann made his first appearance for the U.S. since Oct. 17, 2007, a 1-0 win in Switzerland. Hahnemann holds the record for the longest layoff between caps for the United States, with an eight-year, five-month, 28-day break between games from Nov. 19, 1994 to June 8, 2003.
- With their goals on May 25 against the Czech Republic, Edu and Gómez became the first pair of U.S. players to get their first goal in the same game since Holden and Robbie Rogers tallied in the 4-1 win against Grenada on July 4, 2009, to open the 2009 Gold Cup.
- Gómez made the World Cup team after appearing in just two matches before coming on at halftime against the Czech Republic to earn his third cap.
- Five of the seven defenders on the roster have at least one goal for the national team: Bocanegra, Bornstein, Cherundolo, Goodson, and Onyewu. Three of those tallied in 2009, and all of them memorable. Bocanegra’s game-winning header against Honduras in Chicago; Goodson performing the same feat against the same team in the same stadium in the Gold Cup; and Bornstein capping off qualifying with a last-second header against Costa Rica.
- With his goal against the Netherlands on March 3 in Amsterdam, Bocanegra upped his career tally to 12, just one shy of the mark set by Marcelo Balboa for U.S. defenders.
- Only two players on the U.S. World Cup team made their first U.S. appearance for Bradley within the last year. Holden debuted on July 4, 2009, with an Independence Day goal in the Gold Cup, and Buddle in the match against the Czechs.