After their dramatic late show against Algeria, the US now has a legit shot at making a run deep into the knockout stages of the World Cup. The first test is an on-the-up Ghanaian squad. Here are five things to watch for come kickoff.
1. Andre Ayew — The son of Champions League-winning Marseille great Abedi Pele, the 20 year-old could very well follow in his father’s famed footsteps towards greatness. A constant threat down the left side and the middle, too, his frequent crosses and link-up play with striker Asamoah Gyan is bound to bear goals at some point.
2. Landon Donovan — Coming off one of the greatest results in US history, the architect of it all has finally ditched his Leverkusen demons to finally assume the role of unequivocal leader (Sorry, Clint.) Inspired play all-around will be on tap from this country’s finest.
3. The revenge factor — Going into their last group-stage match in the ’06 edition, the US faced a similar win-and-you’re-in situation against Ghana as they did against Algeria on Monday. In the 43rd minute, Dempsey scored an equalizer, but perhaps a little too deep into first-half injury time, Stephen Appiah knocked in a deserved penalty. The US then departed the tournament with an embarrassing solitary point.
4. African support — By now, you’re probably well aware that Ghana remains the sole African team left in the first World Cup to be played in Africa. The US squad has no doubt been made aware plenty, too. So, conventional wisdom suggests that the continent will get behind their only reps left (likely with vuvuzelas in tow). Luckily for the States, FIFA ticket allotments will keep fan support from being too one-sided and also, they’re accustomed to the me-against-the-world atmospheres, having had to familiarize themselves with it every time they travel to Estadio Azteca to play Mexico.