Thursday, June 22, 2006

U.S. v. Ghana First Half Diary

Let's get the game underway. It's been close to a year since Donovan has scored for the U.S. Will today be the day he breaks the scoreless streak? Let's go.

Already with the playing of the national anthems Ghana seems like a more spirited and raucus bunch. U.S. are starting with a 4-5-1 formation with Brian McBride as the lone striker. This is a strange choice. Why go with five midfielders and one forward when you need a victory? McBride will need a lot of support from the midfield players. Ghana opens with a 4-4-2. The five U.S. midfielders will probably slow things up for Ghana in the midfield.

Word from the Italy game: Baros is back for the Czechs. This is a good sign for the Czechs and should take some pressure off the midfield.

Minute 2: both teams just knocking the ball around right now. Nothing really threatening from either side. just trying to get a feel for the game.

Minute 3: An early cross into the box causing confusion in the Ghana defense and draws out the keeper. I got no idea what he's doing off his line.

Minute 5: Yellow card for Michael Essien. He will miss the next game if Ghana goes through. These referees are so card happy this tournament. This is ridiculous. Essien got the ball.

Minute 7: Ghana is looking relaly flat. We see the second yellow card of the game on an unintentional handball by Eddie Lewis.

Minute 9: Ghana wins the first free kick of the gam after the Ghanaian midfielder megs the U.S. defender and is upended right outside the box. Let's see what Ghana does with it...wasted effort as Appiah plays it to Essien who shoots well wide.

Minute 12: Ghana is showing nothing in attack so far. The first 12 minutes of this game have been played almost exclusively in Ghana's half of the field. Ghana is giving the ball away cheaply right now.

Minute 16: U.S. wins the first corner of the game. Taken by Donovan and headed on target by Dempsey. Easy save for Ghana's keeper.

Minute 18: Another foul by Onyewu slows the game down. Onyewu is probably the most overrated player on the U.S. team. The only time I hear his name is when he fouls someone. So far the U.S. has gotten absolutely nothing from Donovan and Beasley.

Minute 20: The five U.S. midfielders are really bottling up the Ghana attack. Not sure if this kind of defensive posture is what the U.S. needs in a game where a victory is the only acceptable result....Ghana wins its first corner. Too bad the referee calls a foul.

Minute 22: GOLAZO!!! Claudio Reyne gives the ball away cheaply to Dramani who goes in and slots the ball pass Kasey Keller 1-0 Ghana. It will take a Herculean effort now by the U.S. to win this game. The need two goals and they have yet to score in the tournament. The giveawy by Reyna was criminal and now he is being stretchered off. It doesn't look like he was touched by the Ghana player his studs just got caught in the grass.

Minute 26: Now Ghana's keeper Kinson is down. I suspect he's just milking the clock but I could be wrong.

Minute 28: You really have to question Arena's choice of five midfielders and one forward. This formation is not known for producing goals especially when you are using a foward who depends on good service and another forward to drop and colect the ball.

Minute 29: Good Ghana counterattack: Essien plays the ball through to Pingpong who slots the ball just a yard or two wide of the far post.
Update from Italy game: Italy leads 1-0 on a Massimo Materazzi header from a Totti corner.

Minute 32: Ghana appears to be in complete control of the game at this point. The goal has changed everything and the U.S. appear to be sleepwalking right now.

Minute 35: Mcbride heads a ball down to Donovan who puts it well high and wide of the target. Donovan's disappointing tournament continues. It's been 17 games in the national team since he's scored a goal.

Minute 38: Donovan is starting to push a little farther forward now to join McBride in the attack. They still don't seem to be threatening the Ghana keeper. It's all too easy for Ghana right now. They knock it around a little and then move forard.....A nice U.S. counterattack comes to nothing. Eddie Lewis crosses into the box but there's no one there on the end of it to convert.

Minute 40: Reyna is being subbed off. On comes Olsen. The way things are looking this is the last time we'll see Reyna in a U.S. shirt.

Minute 41: Olsen's first mark in the game is to foul Essien and give Ghana a free kick about 30 yards away from goal. Wasted effort. Goal kick for the U.S.

Minute 43: GOLAZO!!! Beasley's first contribution to the game comes on a nice run where Ghana gives the ball away around their box and Beasley squares for Dempsey who blasts it into the net past the Ghana keeper. It's 1-1. Game on!! Ghana basically gifted that chance to the U.S. by failing to clear the ball properly with three players around.

Minute 45: PENALTY!!! Onyewu fouls Pingpong in the box and the referee awards a penalty which will be taken by Appiah. Appiah steps up and calmly deposits it into the roof of the net. 2-1 Ghana. Like I said before, this guy Onyewu is overrated. You only hear his name when he fouls. Ghana are back on top and the U.S. are up against it.

Halftime: Ghana leads 2-1. The U.S. still needs two goals to progress. Italy is leading the Czechs who are now playing with ten men. Arena needs to switch the formation to 3-5-2 and go for broke or 4-4-2 at the very least.

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