USA vs. Ghana: In World Cup 2010, Americans eliminated by Ghana

The United States loses 2-1 to Ghana in a round-of-16 match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa.
By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 27, 2010

RUSTENBERG, SOUTH AFRICA -- The United States had responded to early deficits in two of its first three World Cup matches and did it again Saturday night against Ghana to send the round-of-16 game into overtime. A team that had produced so many memorable moments in finishing ahead of England and winning its group was on course for another riveting finish.

But when the Americans conceded a goal in the opening moments of the extra period, they had no answers, falling to Ghana, 2-1, before a Royal Bafokeng Stadium crowd of 34,976 that included Bill Clinton, Mick Jagger and Kobe Bryant.

Ghana, in just its second World Cup, will face Uruguay in a quarterfinal on Friday in Johannesburg.

Less than three minutes into the 30-minute overtime, Ghana's Andrew Ayew served a long ball over the top. Asamoah Gyan accelerated and positioned himself to shield the ball from U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra, his teammate at French club Rennes.

Gyan chested it down and away from the U.S. defender. Before Jay DeMerit could provide cover, Gyan rocketed a 15-yard shot over goalkeeper Tim Howard, who seemed to be anticipating a low attempt.

With plenty of time to respond, the Americans pressed for yet another equalizer. Clint Dempsey's volley was blocked in the penalty area. Herculez Gomez's 20-yarder went wide. With Howard desperately pushed forward, Ghana cleared an American corner kick. DeMerit's one-timer sailed high.

And with smoke from nearby grass fires ominously hovering over the stadium, the U.S. campaign came to a numbing end.

U.S. Coach Bob Bradley made two expected lineup changes: Robbie Findley returned to the front line after serving a yellow card suspension and Ricardo Clark, who started the opener against England, regained his place in defensive midfield.

In Findley's absence against Algeria on Wednesday, Gomez had partnered with Jozy Altidore. But Findley's speed would be vital to pressure and chase Ghana's defenders and help offset the quickness of the team known as the Black Stars.

In midfield, Jose Torres and Maurice Edu had been paired with Michael Bradley in recent matches, but Clark's defensive instincts earned him the job again.

All other positions remained the same: Howard in goal; Steve Cherundolo, DeMerit, captain Carlos Bocanegra and Jonathan Bornstein on the back line; and Landon Donovan and Dempsey on the flanks.

The Americans created two mild threats in the opening moments: Donovan and Findley combined on the right in the second minute before Donovan's cross bounded untouched through the box, and Dempsey's head-high drive from distance was handled by goalkeeper Richard Kingson.

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