WORLD CUP OPEN THREAD, DAY 16: USA vs. Ghana

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLL. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

9:00 CT, ESPN: Uruguay vs. South Korea  Only two teams were able to make it through the entire group stage without conceding a goal: Portugal... and Uruguay.  They rebounded from a dismal draw with France to smash South Africa (3-0) and beat Mexico (1-0) to clinch first in the group.  South Korea beat Greece in their opener (2-0), got thumped by Greece (4-1), and had a wild draw with Nigeria (2-2) that was just enough to move into the next round.  They're a fun team to watch: energetic and on the attack, but a bit weak at the back.  It's hard to imagine them holding Uruguay scoreless, so they're going to need to find some way to get through the so-far-impregnable wall that is the Uruguay defense.

1:30 CT, ABC: United States vs. Ghana  Revenge!  Four years ago, an American team having an uneven World Cup (they were the only team to take a point off eventual champions Italy all tournament, earning a 1-1 draw... but they were also clobbered 3-0 by the Czech Republic) entered its third and final group game against Ghana with a chance to slip through to the second round.  Instead, they got beat (2-1), branded a disappointment, and sent home to dwell on their failures.  Four years later, the U.S. now has a crack at sweet, sweet revenge... and a greater prize: a berth in the quarterfinals against the winner of Uruguay/South Korea.  

Against Algeria, the U.S. came as close as they have all tournament to putting together a full, consistent 90 minutes of quality play -- it took them 92 minutes to get the breakthrough goal, but they cut down on the defensive lapses, attacked relentlessly, and had countless good opportunities at goal.  They'll need another performance like that, although one hopes for a little bit better finishing on the offensive end.  The Black Stars have been a black hole defensively, swallowing up all but two goals in the group stage, but they've also been utterly punchless going forward -- they scored only two goals in the group stage and both came off penalties (both from handballs in the penalty area, weirdly enough).  This feels like a game where an early lead could prove crucial; Ghana's shown little ability to come-from-behind to get a result and putting the pressure on them to come forward could loosen up their defense and allow the U.S. to make some counter-attacks and build that lead.  On the other hand, the U.S. has been masters at coming from behind and pulling off some late-game heroics when necessary; it'd be nice not to have to dip into that bag of tricks again today.

Anyhoo, usual rules of game threads apply: no porn, no discussion of piracy; if you can't watch the game on TV, there are legal online streams at ESPN3.com. (EDIT: Apparently no stream on ESPN3.com.) Beyond that, the topic is verboten.

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