The United States Toppel The Black Stars; Finally

Laurence Griffiths

It was, quite simply, as american as it got for the Yanks

It has long been noted that the essential american style when it comes to soccer could be described in very simple terms.

A neutral observer of the last 22 years could be forgiven for assuming that the American style—to the extent one exists at all—is "try hard, run fast," and don’t spend too much time thinking about tactics

As much as Jurgen Klinsmann wants to change the culture of US soccer, the US is still not to the point where they have the ability to express themselves, as a collective, for 90 minutes. But they do have moments where they can do just that on an individual basis. Clint Dempsey did just that in the first minute, stringing together three deft touches in tight areas before slotting home a perfectly measured shot to the back post. And the US, confronted with the new concept of playing with house money began to sit back in their defensive shape and absorb pressure and punch the ball out when they got the chance. In other words, they played exactly as every US team has at the World Cup.

I have seen countless mentions of Ghana thoroughly outplaying the US, even in the official match reports. But that is not what I saw. I saw a Black Stars team that was reduced to passing among themselves on the outside edge of the 18 yard box and launching ambitious but rubbish attempts from distance.

When Jozy Altidore went down the Americans really packed it in, absorbed pressure and were just generally hard for Ghana to break down. Yes Ghana had more possession of the ball than the US did, 59 percent to 41 percent. But for all that possession they struggled to get chances on Tim Howard. The one exception was the brilliant three touch build up from Boye to Gyan to Ayew that resulted in the Ghanaian goal. But that was the exception, not the rule. On the whole Ghana was incredibly wasteful in the final third. They had 21 shots, but just 8 of them were on goal, that is not the efficiency of a team that was markedly better. Thats the mark of a team who struggled to break down what was, in theory, an inimitably defeatable US defense and who resorted to ambitious but failing efforts from 20 yards and further out.

The Americans by contrast had 8 total shots, put 7 on frame and scored twice. So please stop with the Ghana was better bullshit, its impossible to call a team that is that wasteful in the final third the better team. The US won because they kept their shape better, they were hard to breakdown putting 8 and sometimes 9 men behind the ball and just generally ensuring that Ghanian's everywhere had a bad day. Is that beautiful? No not in a strictly aesthetic sense, but that is how the US has always gone about getting results in this competition. Need I mention that the US continues to get results in this tournament?

You can not argue that the United States wasn't good value for that win. Not with Jozy going down. The one player who makes this system that Klinsmann has adopted work. Not with Matt Besler being pulled off the field at the half in a precautionary measure. That John Anthony Brooks would come on and settle into a suburb game is, perhaps not that big of a surprise. He was excellent for Hertha Berlin at the close of the Bundesliga season and is drawing interest from a quarter of premier league teams. That Brooks would score the decisive goal against the American's biggest nemesis is a surprise.

Now the US will look to take on a Portuguese side that was just annihilated by Germany, with Cristiano Ronaldo at less than 100 percent, with Pepe out for a suspension for doing Pepe things and another defender likely out with an injury. The US advancing to the group stage is suddenly a very real possibility. Go Go USA indeed.

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