I had half a mind to just write a rather long ranting piece on the attention this USA team is getting for a rather mediocre preformance so far. But today is not a day for angry ranting as we are just hours away from USA-Ghana. But I will say this. Everyone who is lauding the USA with praise and talking about reaching the semi-finals in a weak bracket are completely underestimating Uruguay and Ghana. Also, for reason that cannot be explained, it is official that the USA completely suck at group stages of major FIFA tournaments. Don't belive me? World Cup 2002, backdoor second place after losing to Poland in the third match. World Cup 2006, three games, one tie to eventual champions Italy. Confederations Cup 2009, backdoor second after 3-0 win vs. Eygpt and 3-0 loss by Italy. 2010 World Cup, controversy aside, 91st minute goal secures advancement and group win. Numbers don't lie people, and that trend after this year will be completely unacceptable. But all of that doesn't matter, the USA is through and Landon Donovan is the hero and the talking heads are going crazy. So, let's set the straight a little bit.
[URU-A1] Uruguay vs. South Korea [KOR-B2]
Original Prediction - Uruguay [A1] vs [B2] Greece
Okay, so anyone who saw my Group B preview probably realizes that I am an idiot, but my predictions, as seen here on the ESPN Bracket Predictor, are in the 85th precentile and I'm only out one Quarterfinal team in Denmark, who I took a flier on since my original sleeper team (Chile) got paired with Brazil in the 1st knockout round (got that one right too).
Anyway, this is a bit of history here for South Korea (and Japan) as they qualified for the knockout stages for the first time on foriegn soil and since the 2002 World Cup. However the Korean's looked atrociously bad against the other team from South America that they faced (Argentina) and while Uruguay certainly lacks their attacking prowess, I certainly think that they have the edge in this game. Uruguay defeinately has a more defensive mindset for a CONEMBOL team, but I think they have more of the talent. Korea lacks playmakers with the exception of their captain, Man U's Park Ji-Sung but they have been scoring goals. The question is can the break down a Uruguay defense that hasn't yet conceded a goal. I say no.
Prediction: Uruguay 1-0
[USA-C1] United States vs. Ghana [GHA-D2]
Original Prediction - England [C1] vs. Austrailia [D2]
I apologize in advance for the follow mini-rant about the USA. Bob Bradley needs to bench Robbie Findley for Edson Buddle. Buddle earned his way onto this team and he's been effective when he starts while Findley's been invisible. Herculez Gomez should be coming off the bench in the 2nd half, perhaps paired with Dempsey up front if Bob Bradley wants too make some midfield changes as well. Michael Bradley might be the most underrated player in the World Cup but holding defensive midfielders never win awards (see Shalrie Joesph, NE Revs, MLS). But Mike Bradley needs a parter in the center midfield and I don't know who that is right now, but I like Jose Torres off the bench which probably means Ricardo Clark starts again. For all the complaints about the USA defense before the World Cup, they've done well. The USA needs to finish shots. I'm looking at you Jozy Altidore. End Rant.
The Ghana Black Stars eliminated the USA from the 2006 World Cup thanks to an Oscar winning-preformance to draw a penalty to help them win 2-1 in the final group game. And since the only goals Ghana has scored in this tournament have been penalties, they'll probably be at it again. Ghana are the only African nation left in the home continent's first Cup but they have lacked the offensive punch so far in this tournament. The USA are notoriously bad at starting games, giving up early goals to England and Slovenia and almost again to Algeria were it not for the crossbar aiding Tim Howard. I think the USA needs to score in the first half and establish themselves defensively. I think we also need the referee's to, what's the word I'm looking for...oh, not suck.
Prediction: USA 3-1
Enjoy the games guys, I'll be around for analysis of both games, no commentary, although I did think about doing it for the first game. I'd like to apologize for my shoddy posting, but I just work to much. I also robbed my wingman (mattries) a chance to give you his TV picks for the final group games, which was a fantastic idea on his part. I look forward to a USA victory and another chance at a quarterfinal match.