Sunday, June 27, 2010

Asamoah Gyan Strike Disappoints Rennes Mate Carlos Bocanegra

The Americans have been the comeback kids in the World Cup thus far. That's the manner in which they emerged top of Group C ahead of England. Going into a repeat match against Ghana, Landon Donovan and team have every reason to feel confident.

US captain, Bocanegra's friend and team mate, Asamoah Gyan steeled himself for the challenge by Bocanegra and then rode the tackle of Jay Demerit before rifling an unstoppable shot past Tim Howard. It was his third goal of the tournament and also his first from open play. Gyan's strike in extra time sends Ghana into the quarterfinals to face Uruguay. Ghana is bidding to become the first African side to feature in the semifinals and they look well capable of doing that.

What Bob Bradley did not bargain on was the inability of the USA defence to be firm and solid and stay focused for the first 15 minutes. England scored through Steven Gerrard in the fourth minute. Slovenia scored through Birsa after thirteen minutes and yesterday Kevin Prince Boateng outran the US defence to drill a low shot past Howard in the fifth minute of this last 16 match.

US Defender Jay Demerit shared his thoughts on Ghana’s killer second goal:
“When you have sharp forwards that sit on your shoulder, they wait for balls like that. For defenders, we have to worry about the ball in front and the ball behind, and sometimes you get caught in two minds or you just get caught in the space and have to react. The athleticism that they have on that team, they were able to react a little bit quicker than us and showed good strength and a good finish.” 
Having come from behind so effectively in the group phases, the Americans were not deterred by their poor start and they slowly clawed their way back into the game. Clint Dempsey's nutmeg only served to bring Jonathan Mensah across for a tackle that Deuce was looking for. A penalty which Donovan put away efficiently.

Richard Kingson proved why he is considered Africa's best shot stopper with three one-on-one saves. The 47th minute save against Feilhaber really kept Ghana in the game. Had that gone in, the USA would have had the extra wind and determination to press ahead for the win.

Ghana is still flying the African flag proudly in South Africa, combining the guile and pace of African football with European tactical organization. And they are even missing Michael Essien!

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