The drawmeisters were doubly cruel to the U.S. last December. It was bad news enough to be given the group of death, alongside Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. Not much was said at the time about the second indignity: the wait. 26 teams will have gotten their World Cups underway by the time the U.S. kicks off later today. As if four years wasn’t long enough.
Ghana. Again. The match the USMNT are most confident about, the one that starts their trek through the group of death, comes against their two-time tormentors. Ghana has ended the last two World Cups for the U.S. In 2006, a USMNT win in their last group stage game would have seen them through to the knockout rounds. But Ghana had other plans. A penalty just before halftime gave the Ghanaians a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. In 2010, the U.S. soared into the knockout rounds, only to find Ghana once again. The USMNT conceded a goal early in the match, and again early in extra time. 2-1 again. If we played them in Ghana, they would probably “two to one” at us.
I had trouble getting to sleep last night. Four years of preparation will likely come down to 90 minutes this evening. It is a nasty thing, international soccer, which causes so much to hinge on so little. If the U.S. loses, or even if they draw, they will be facing an uphill task—no, an upmountain task—with games against Germany and Portugal remaining. It’d be a long four years until Russia in 2018. But a win, god only knows what a win might mean.
It’s been more than six months since the draw pitted the U.S. against Ghana. Matchday is finally upon us. Let’s fucking do this.