Tonight’s the night, or one of them at least, for the United States national soccer team.
When it’s a 3-game set — and the other two teams you’re set to face are world powers — game one takes on extra importance, which is exactly why this evening’s U.S.-Ghana World Cup opener is so important for Jurgen Klinsmann’s team.
Make sure you remind yourself of this every time someone at the water cooler talks about tonight’s game being a “tough test” for the U.S.
Ghana is NOT a world soccer power.
They’re very beatable.
They’re Ghana, for crying out loud, not Brazil or Argentina.
I keep hearing and reading supposed soccer “experts” go on and on about how the U.S. is facing such an uphill battle in Group G because Ghana is so tough, Portugal is loaded with talent and Germany is, well, Germany.
The only thing that matters now is — now. Sure, Germany has a wonderfully rich soccer pedigree. Doesn’t mean a hill of beans next Thursday. Portugal has a great player in Cristiano Ronaldo. OK, then what? Last time I checked, Portugal hasn’t won every game he’s played in with them. And Ghana has served as an upstart of sorts in the last two World Cups, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot this time around. Remember, our own U.S. team got run out of the gym in France back in 1998, then turned around and had a phenomenal run to the Final Eight in 2002. In fact, the U.S. beat someone named “Portgual” in 2002 en route to a berth in the knock-out stage, where they lost 1-0 to Germany in a game where they were the better team on the field for 90 minutes.
So, past history doesn’t mean much when the World Cup rolls around.
I firmly believe the U.S. is winning tonight against Ghana.
I know Klinsmann played the sad-sack coach with some of his pre-tournament comments about how his side isn’t good enough yet for this sort of appearance on the world stage, but he’s just saying that to say it. He knows he has a good, athletic team with a central midfield that creates as much trouble as any other squad in the tournament. The key to this evening’s game will be the play of Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey. If Klinsmann gets “A” outings from those two, that means they’ll both factor in a goal or two and the U.S. will win. If Ghana can quiet those two, it might be a tough night for the Americans.
They won’t quiet them, though.
And the U.S. will win this one.
In fact, I’d be surprised if Ghana wins tonight.