Grant Wahl has an article up at CNNSI that talks about how the USMNT has scouted Ghana and some of the difficulties they encountered (HatTip DJ). USMNT Assistant Curt Onalfo shared some insights as to how the US stacks up against Ghana:
They’re a good team. The strength of the Ghanaians is their attack. When they have a full roster, they have what I would call four world-class attacking players. Two of them are out against us [Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan, due to yellow-card suspensions]. Michael Essien is having a great tournament. He’s shown that he’s one of the best players in the world. He’s a complete player. He can go forward, he can defend, he’s just been outstanding. Right now he is the most influential player they have, end of story.
Many people are wondering how strong Ghana will be without two of their top scoring threats. Onalfo feels they are still a dangerous team, but the US might have the advantage in depth:
Ghana, in my opinion, when they have their starting 11, their top 11 are pretty darn good. But once they have to get into their bench, all of a sudden there’s a drop-off. That’s the case for a lot of teams. We feel that they’ve lost two players, we’ve lost two players. I tend to believe our roster is overall, 1 through 23, better than the Ghanaian roster. So they’re going to be really hurt by those two guys who are suspended.
Though he follows up to say that they’re still dangerous and the US is not counting on the suspensions significantly reduce their fast attack. Ghana was no pushover in the qualifiers, winning 6, drawing 3, and losing 1. My biggest concern is Ghana’s speed. The USMNT had trouble with the speed of the Czech Republic, but seemed to find their legs against Italy. They’ll need them again on Thursday.
One interesting thing that Onalfo talked about was how hard it was to get game tape to review. He managed to get the name of a Ghanaian businessman in DC, but was hesitant to call at first. Good thing he did.
It was one of those things where I was like, Should I even bother to call this guy? Thank God I did, because 24 hours later I had a whole bunch of DVDs on Ghana. I got all their World Cup qualifying games, got their friendly games. Not all from him, but he provided six or seven games for us. It’s all helpful, because it’s not easy to get those games. They’re played in some remote places like Congo and everywhere else.
So we should definitely be prepared for Thursday. Unlike certain teams that couldn’t recall our players names, I expect the US is well aware of the threats they face on Thursday. Hopefully the same aggressive and pumped up team we saw against Italy shows up as well. Ghana advances with a win and possibly with a tie so they will be coming at us from the opening whistle. Italy’s coach was right when he described Group E as the ‘Group of Iron’. It has been full of surprises and the 3rd matches will be exciting affairs.