Ghana fought harder for loose balls the entire game.
Ghana’s keeper Kingson played up to Howard’s level, arguably surpassing him in terms of confidence and decisiveness — think about some of those plays off corners and free kicks where he came off his line and punched it away (the most memorable being him punching the ball away before it came to Howard’s head late).
Ghana’s second goal was improbably excellent on a couple levels, starting with the long-bomb pass and culminating in the in-the-air finish that went past a delayed flail from Howard, who wasn’t expecting it.
I struggle to think of a claim the USA could have to deserving to get to a shootout. Both teams were inconsistent. Both teams made bone-headed plays, had communication breakdowns on defense, and were poor at developing plays in the final third. But Ghana had a few flashes of brilliance, occasionally rising to the moment in a way that eluded the US.
This was a good run for the US – they drew England, won their group, and had the two most clutch performances in the group stage. Most days, they might be better than Ghana, but not this day. And really, until they resolve their slow start to halves, they can only expect to overcome so many deficits in a row. The US led opponents for about 2 minutes the entire World Cup, and we need to bump that number up a smidge if we’re going to threaten to crash the late rounds.
Uruguay, meanwhile, advanced despite throwing away the first twenty minutes of the second half. After not having given up a goal the entire tournament, they seemed certain that their first strike would put them through. Instead, South Korea scored yet another goal off a set play, and Uruguay had to push forward again. That suited Suarez just fine, who bent a ball at an impossible angle, especially in the rain, to put Uruguay through. The consensus seems to be that South Korea out-played them, but other than that stretch to start the 2nd, I felt Uruguay were more dangerous. Certainly the Forlan-Suarez combo has lived up to its billing. Wonder who will be paying Ajax for Suarez, and what they’ll have to pay to nab him? Uruguay should beat Ghana, and they are a true dark horse to reach the final.
But let’s open this up to USA discussion as we eulogize their World Cup —
1) What went wrong today?
2) What does the USA have to do to take the team to the next level?
3) Do you think this run will leave any lasting impact on US sports fan culture?