June 26, 2010
By Michael Lewis
U.S. falls in OT to Ghana 2-1
RUSTENBURG -- The United States' World Cup of living dangerously finally caught up to the team Saturday.
|Jay DeMerit's last chance try went over the cross bar in stoppage time
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
They again overcame an early deficit, but could not use their magic to offset Asamoah Gyan's extra-time goal en route to a 2-1 loss in a Round of 16 match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
The defeat had to be a bitter pill to swallow for the U.S., which had a relatively easy bracket through to the semifinals. These opportunities do not come along very often.
Ghana, the lone African team remaining in the competition, will play Uruguay in the quarterfinals at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday. The U.S., which was eliminated by the Black Stars for the second consecutive World Cup by the very same score, will return home as soon as possible.
Gyan struck for the winning goal in the 93rd minute. He took a long pass from Andre Ayew, beat defender Carlos Bocanegra, who tried pushing him off the ball, and then sent a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Tim Howard to the right corner.
With time running out in the second extra-time period, Howard moved up on corner kick. Jay DeMerit had one last try, but his shot went over the crossbbar in stoppage time.
Landon Donovan had given the U.S. some life as he equalized in the 62nd minute after Jonathan Mensah took down Clint Dempsey in the penalty area. Referee Viktor Kassai pointed to the penalty spot.
Donovan did his usual mediation and praying before the kick, which he deposited into the upper right corner for his third goal of the tournament.
Some of the U.S.'s early problems in the match could have stemmed from some of coach Bob Bradley's questionable starting lineup decisions.
Bradley started the same backline as in the 1-0 win over Algeria, keeping veteran central defender Oguchi Onyewu on the bench. He also decided to insert fast forward Robbie Findley into the lineup in an attempt to stretch the Ghana defense after he sat out a game with a yellow-card suspension, even though his first touch has been miserable.
For the third time in four games, the U.S. found itself chasing the game early on.
Kevin Prince Boateng gave Ghana the lead in the fifth minute in front of 34,976 spectators, which included President Clinton and Mick Jagger.
Boateng stripped Ricardo Clark of the ball at midfield and bolted toward the goal on the left side of the field with the U.S. midfielder chasing. Before Clark could catch up to the forward, Boateng sent a low, 12-yard shot past Howard and into the left corner.
Ironically, Bradley decided to start Clark over Maurice Edu or Jose Torres because he is the best defensive player among his options to play alongside Michael Bradley at central midfield.
Right fullback Steve Cherundolo was slapped with a yellow card in the 18th minute, taking down Andre Ayew outside the penalty area on the left side. Had the U.S. advanced, the card would meant that Cherundolo would have to miss the Uruguay game.
On the ensuing free kick, Gyan fired a shot that Howard was forced to punch away.
The Africans tested Howard again in the 30th minute, but the former MetroStars keeper caught Boateng's blast from outside the penalty area.
Bradley had seen enough and pulled Clark, who was playing poorly, in favor of Edu in the 31st minute.
Three minutes later Findley had a great opportunity, but his poor finish was blocked by goalkeeper Richard Kingson.
Howard was called on again in the 37th minute as he blocked Kwadwo Asamoah's attempt.
Bradley made one switch at halftime, pulling Findley for midfielder Benny Feilhaber and moving Clint Dempsey up front.
Four minutes into the half, Feilhaber almost made Bradley look like a genius, but his six-yard attempt was blocked by Kingson.