Archive for June, 2010

Group G round 3 – Brazil versus Portugal, North Korea versus Ivory Coast

They will need a goal or 3 from Gervinho if the Ivorians are to go through

PEEEEEEP PEEEEEP PEEP. Brazil top the group and Portugal runners up.

PEEEEEEP PEEEEEP PEEP. Ivory Coast are three goal winners but it is not nearly enough.

Both games with 5 minutes of extra time but the writing is on the wall. Ivory Coast being punished for their cautious approach i the first game and will be going home early.

92:00 – Cat like reflexes from Eduardo as he saves from a Ramires shot.

88:00 – Lucio with a free header but its straight at the Portuguese keeper.

85:00 – Another ball goes in the back of the Korean net but once again its offside. Sven shows some emotion on the bench by making a fist and waving his arm.

81:00 – GOOOOOOAAAALLL. Kalou. Too little too late. Ivory Coast 3North Korea 0

78:00 – Portugal have had the majority of the chances this half but Brazil’s defense has been well organized and very solid as it reflects their managers mentality.

69:00 – Time running out for the elephants. North Korea defending well.

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Redemption 2010: USA vs.Ghana

In a late twist of fate and ecstasy, the United States gallantly and finally slipped one through the posts on Wednesday and emphatically punched their ticket to World Cup 2010, 2nd round.

Dempsey buried this chance in the Yanks' 2006 Cup loss to the Black Stars...he'll need to be efficient on Saturday

Up next for the Yanks? The Ghana Black Stars, Africa’s last team remaining in the tournament and the United States slayer in the final group game in World Cup 2006.

Ghana, who most expected would wilt in a tough Group D without their midfield quarterback Michael Essien, did the exact opposite.

With a steely win over trendy final four pick Serbia in the opening round and a draw against an undermanned Australia side, Ghana strode into the final game against UEFA powerhouse Germany with the group lead and with group scenarios in their favor.

A 1-0 loss coupled with Australia’s narrow win over Serbia sent Ghana through to face the Group C-winning States.

Ghana deploy in a 4-1-4-1 with Asamoah Gyan, the lone striker, the key

Ghana employs a disciplined 4-1-4-1 formation that drops the fierce, but slight Anthony Annan–a more athletic Wilson Palacios or, better, a reincarnation of former England great Paul Ince–in the holding role traditionally held by Essien above an extremely seasoned defense.

How seasoned is the backline? From left to right it reads: John Paintsil, (a starter at Fulham in the EPL) John Mensah (formerly of Lyon and now shepherd of Sunderland’s defense), Jonathan Mensah (an extremely powerful and strong central defender who has stepped in for injured Isaac Vorheh) and finally Hans Sarpei (a shifty and sound player out of the Bundesliga).

Only Jonathan Mensah, no relation to John, is inexperienced, but he’s also candidate to start next year at Serie A side Udinese. He’s athletic and certainly no slouch–watch the Germany game.

The back four is smart, tough, athletic and by my review only cracks when having to face spurts of tough pressure against the run-of-play. Against Serbia, especially, the fundamentals and cover of the defense was…..exceptional.

Ghana is not to be trifled with in the air (Jonathan Menshah, #8)

The Black Stars like to control things ahead with Annan in their midfield. They’ll play the ball around looking for chances to serve up to striker Asamoah Gyan (we’ll talk about his impact shortly), who’s making a run against the grain of the opponent’s defense.

The midfield should have been a strength for Ghana, but Chelsea star (and my favorite soccer player) Michael Essien went down with a knee injury and volatile Inter Milan tracker Sulley Muntari has had a love-hate relationship with the team and coaching staff.

Muntari cursed the coaching staff after the Australia match, but was not Anelka’d back to the homeland. He’s, to date, been coming off the bench.

Of the remaining midfielders, the States face yet another Portsmouth player in Kevin Prince Boateng who made news recently for relegating Michael Ballack to crutches for the World Cup.

It’s up top where the Yanks will have to contend with the biggest goal threat in Asamoah Gyan, but they’ll have the inside track on him. Gyan also fronts Ligue 1 Rennes, Carlos Bocanegra’s club. Gyan is widely considered the next superstar from the Black Stars and with good reason. He’s strong on the ball, extremely smart with technical runs and goes hard to headers.

That said, Ghana hasn’t been able to score this World Cup from the run-of-play. Both goals that Ghana have are penalty kicks. Beyond Gyan, Ghana lacks offensive creativity in the midfield and is also almost too disciplined going forward to take a risk and create an opportunity.

Ghana attack: (Blue=ball movement, Ayew w/ball)

The Black Stars will try to move the ball using the flanks, but in a wholly different manner from the State’s last opponent, Algeria.

Ghana will ping the ball from Annan in the holding role out to one of their wide midfielders. That wide midfielder depending upon what the defense offers has multiple plays including carrying the ball. The ball carrier will typically look for: A run from Gyan traipsing diagonally across the defense, a lead pass to an interior midfielder down the line or an overlap from the defender depending the situation and tempo of the game.

Beyond this Ghana typically lack offensive industry and will work the ball out of the corners, predominantly with service into the box or, less frequently, to a trailing midfielder for a shot right outside the box.

Now, let’s continue with our customary TSG preview.

As usual, we go.

TSG What We’re Looking For.

11 At The Whistle


TSG What We’re Looking For:

Findley, pivotal

• Can the Yanks get loose down the flanks?

With Pantsill and Sarpei pushing up high and making runs for the Black Stars, the best way to counter this is the Yanks’ celebrated counter flanker counter. I expect Robbie Findley to start again with Landon and Cherundolo on the right right and attack Ghana’s left flank where they originated most of their attacks against both Germany and Serbia.

The States, who will deploy in their 4-2-2-2 this game, will use Bradley, Donovan and Dempsey for carriage against the pressing Ghana defenders and hope to unlock their own diaganol runs from Altidore or Findley. That’s how to beat the Ghana defense.

The Yanks are going to need Findley to be better with his final ball in this one for sure.

Gyan: The next Super Black Star

• Where Gyan goes, you follow

A slight variation on the popular supporter’s group chant, huh?

There is no question that Asamoah Gyan is the space creator and catalyst for the entire Ghana offense. Gyan is a strong, swift and aggressive lone striker who will float in the center of the pitch and then lay off a pass for a midfield shot, make a diagonal run down the flank to open space or take a fly pattern between a central defender and a winger.

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The Day The Black Stars Came To Play

TSG writer Brian Mechanick looks back at the regrettable final game for the States at World Cup 2006.

Four Years for Revenge

Run DMB was up for the game, but the Yanks had a letdown

Four years and three days ago, the USMNT experienced perhaps its most painful loss ever. The 5th FIFA ranked USA needed a win over the 48th ranked Ghana side to clinch advancement to the knockout stage. Sadly, the U.S. fell 2-1 that day to the Black Stars, ending the World Cup early for the Yanks.

One full World Cup cycle has passed and the USA meets Ghana again, with whichever team that prevails gaining the right to advance to the quarterfinals. What’s changed in these four years, and what’s stayed the same?

• Here was your starting line-up for the Yanks that day: G: Kasey Keller; DEF: Cherundolo (Eddie Johnson 61’) Onyewu, Conrad, Bocanegra ; MID: Dempsey, Reyna (Ben Olsen 40’), Donovan, Lewis (Bobby Convey 74’); FW: Beasley, McBride

» The U.S. defense is largely the same, with Onyewu, Cherundolo, and Bocanegra all likely to start.
» The Killer D’s of Donovan and Dempsey are still likely to lead the U.S. attack through the midfield, while Beasley is a distinct possibility to feature.

• The Ghana squad has largely been rebuilt from 2006 using the 2009 U-20 World Cup winning squad, but the similarities for the Black Stars are in the back

Kingson is still between the wickets....

» Goalkeeper Richard Kingson is still between the posts for Ghana. Kingson hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in these past four years, earning only four caps in his last two seasons at Wigan Athletic. Add in a goalkeeping howler against Australia this World Cup, and no change might be a bad thing for Ghana.

» The right side of the Ghanaian defense is same as it ever was, with right back John Pantsil and center-half John Mensah. Pantsil did well to make Eddie Lewis look poor while Mensah shut down the American forwards on the day.

• The managers have changed for each side, but the respective nationalities of each teams managers have stayed the same. Bruce Arena has give way to Bob Bradley for the USA, while Serbian Milovan Rajevac has replaced his countryman Ratomir Dujković.

• Tactically, the USA has changed from Arena’s preferred 4-5-1 to Bradley’s 4-4-2 (4-2-2-2) system. The change has made the USA a more positive side, but they have also lost some of the ability to hold possession of the ’06 side.

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Group E round 3 matches – Netherlands versus Cameroon, Denmark versus Japan

The Dutch are already thanks to this guy.

PEEEEEP. The Dutch are through as group leaders with 9 points. Japan will join them in a few minutes.

88:00 – GOOOOOAAAAL. JAPAN. A simple tap in from Okazaki after some industrious work by Honda. They’re through. Another great world cup story! Japan 3 Denmark 1

83:00 – GOOOOOOOAAAAL . Holland. Roben unleashes a beautiful shot but it bounces off the woodwork and straight into the path of Huntelaar and he slots it into the empty net. Holland 2Cameroon 1

81:00 GOOOOOOAAAAL. Tomasson takes and shoots and it is saved but he latches on to the rebound and slides it into the net. He is know the record goalscorer for Denmark. Denmark 1Japan 2

80:00 – PENALTY for Denmark. Agger goes down.

77:00 – Not all that much going on. Lost my feed to the Cameroon game

70:00 – Robben to make an appearance as he replaces van de vaart

64:00 – GOOOOOAAAAL. ETO’O buries he it. Netherlands 1Cameroon 1

63:00 – PENALTY against the Dutch. Off a Geremi free kick Van de Vaart handles it. Eto’o to take it

60:00 – Cameroon desperately seeing a goal to level it up and get some pride before they go home. The fact that they are trying so hard is inspiration enough for teams like France to take note off!

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Group F round 3 matches – Italy versus Slovakia, Paraguay versus New Zealand

Italy bring back the pit bull for some much needed grit!

PEEEEEEP PEEEP PEEP. Italy are out. Slovakia are through to the knock out stage in their first world cup.

This game like the Wimbledon match refuses to end as Slovakia are wasting time.

95:00 – Pepe gets a chance to equalize and send Italy through as he is open at the back post but his shot is wide.

PEEEEP PEEEEP PEEP – New Zealand are out but without being defeated and with three points. Paraguay win the group.

92:00 – GOOOOOAAAAAL Quaglirella scores a wonder goal as he spots the keeper off his line and sends a beautiful shot over the defenders and keeper for 20 yards out. Lovely goal. Italy 2 – Slovakia 3

89:00 – GOOOOOAAAAL Slovakia – Kopunek with his first touch of the game lobs the Italian keeper and ball bounces into the back of the net. Slovakia 3 – Italy 1 and the holders are surely out.

85:00 – Italy put the ball in the back of the net but it is ruled for off side.

81:00 – GOOOAAAAL Italy. Di Natale scores one of the easiest goals as he latches onto a rebound. BUT there is a lot of action happening in the Slovakian net as the Italian players are fighting with Mucha in the goal. Mucha and Quagliarella get a yellows but that was something out of WWF. Italy 1Slovakia 2

79:00 – Di Natale is one on one but his shot is straight at the keeper.

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Early Edition: Yanks Make It E.A.S.Y.

Courtesy Matt Mathai and Chris Figat.

Group Stages Report Card – Part 1


Luis Suarez will be key to Uruguay's progression in the knockout stages

The South American side acquitted themselves very well in what turned out to be a more difficult group then originally thought. They started out with a well earned draw against France but in retrospect they could have ventured in their opponents side with a little more intent. Like most teams, they played the first game cautiously.

Against the hosts, they overcame the constant droning of the vuvuzelas and put on their scoring boots. Led by a brace from Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan and a late injury time third from Periera, they topped the group on goal difference going into their last game.

In a back and forth game, Uruguay’s defense was impeccable and they countered beautifully and won 1-0 courtesy of a header from Suarez.

Uruguay’s main strength is their defense. They were strong and challenged anyone who came in their defensive third. Their opponents could never pour everyone forward as Uruguay also boast excellent forwards in Forlan, Suarez and Periera who were always a threat to counter quickly and effectively.

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