Huge day for American soccer, with the US taking on Ghana in the first stage of the knockout rounds. Since it's a Saturday and most of you will be able to watch this live, it's time to get our game thread on.
The US comes in after winning their group, albeit after some last minute heroics. In extra time on Wednesday, Tim Howard sparked a break, with Landon Donovan cleaning up the mess in front of the goal to put the US through.
Ghana comes in as the second place team in group D. They beat Serbia, drew Australia, and lost to Germany in the group stage. The Black Stars last played the US in a World Cup in 2006, beating them in the group stage.
For the USA, the strength is in their midfield. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey play the wings with skill, creating chances for Jozy Altidore up top. Michael Bradley has played surprisingly well this world cup, distributing through the middle. The weakness for the Americans is their back line. Tim Howard is amazing, but his back four doesn't give him a ton of help, and hasn't for some time. Earlier this week was the first time the US has held a clean sheet in something like the last 12 matches. Be prepared to be on pins and needles.
For Ghana, they come into the game only scoring twice in the group stages. Both of those goals came on penalty kicks. This doesn't mean they aren't skilled, however, as they create a ton of dangerous chances. The Black Stars can get out and run, setting up oppurtunites on goal. The US does not want to play an up and down game with Ghana.
This should be a game of plenty of chances, with both sides playing less than superb defense. Tim Howard needs to come up big today to keep the Americans moving on. For all of you tie haters, there will be no draws. The game goes into two 15 minute extra time halves if it's tied after regulation. If we're still tied, the game moves to a penalty shootout.
USA! USA! USA!