USMNT Breakdown: vs. Ghana – World Cup Group G, Game 1

Brooks puts away the winner (Photo: CNN/Javier Soriano)

T.J. Zaremba breaks down the Yanks’ win over World Cup nemesis Ghana…

Going into the game, the USMNT knew they needed all three points against Ghana if they wanted a chance to get out of Group G. After a shock early goal, three key injuries, a well-earned equalizer and a magnificent set-piece finish, the Yanks did exactly what they set out to do.

On the surface, this looks like a surprising result. But when you look at this in a little more depth, perhaps not so much.

As expected, the possession battle and attacking numbers were skewed heavily in Ghana’s favor.

Ghana owned Time of Possession

Ghana owned Time of Possession (Image: mlssoccer.com)

Productive attack numbers for Ghana

Productive attack numbers for Ghana (Image: mlssoccer.com)

However, those chances often lacked quality and rarely materialized into anything dangerous.

GHana shots

Lots of shots, not a lot of accuracy for Ghana (Image: squawka.com)

Ghana seemed to have one game plan, expose Beasley on the left side of the US defense, cross the ball into the middle – and thereby create chances. The heat map shows perfectly how the Black Stars committed to Beasley’s side of the field.

Black Stars favored the US left side.

Black Stars favored the US left side (Image: squawka.com)

Of their 38 crosses, 29 of them came from Beasley’s side of the field.

Lots of crosses from Ghana's right

Lots of crosses from Ghana’s right (Image: squawka.com)

When you consider the location of the Ghana’s crosses in the above heat map and where the US had clearances, it shows a lot of volume, but little danger.

No US goal line clearances needed

No US goal line clearances needed (Image: squawka.com)

It kind of reminded me of a dump-and-chase hockey team that is trailing. Ghana dumped in on the left side and crossed it. The US was content with clearing the zone and staying home and defending.

The heat maps for the US center backs support this because they were never forced into areas to prevent Tim Howard from having a clean look.

Center Backs stayed out of Tim Howard's way.

Center Backs stayed out of Tim Howard’s way (Image: squawka.com)

For the Yanks, carrying injuries at forward and a one goal lead, their formation evolved from the diamond midfield to a 4-1-3-1-1 shape, as discerned from the heat map of the 4 midfielders (and substitute Zusi) in front of Beckerman. The outside midfielders were able to push forward, but Bradley spent a lot more time pinned back.

Defense first for General Bradley (Image: squawka.com)

It is easy to say Michael Bradley had an off night. He never seemed to find his footing as master and commander of his team. His overall performance numbers support this observation.   

Bradley going the wrong way.

Bradley going the wrong way (Image: squawka.com)

I believe his numbers continued to drop throughout the evening for two reasons: he spent a lot more time defending than facilitating the offense, as the game dictated; his passing in the attack was the weakest part of his game.

Bradley poor passing in the attack.

Bradley poor passing in the attack (Image: squawka.com)

LEGEND FOR FIELD PLAYERS

  • Circle = Shot; Soccer Ball = Goal (Green = On Target; Red = Off Target; Yellow  = Blocked)
  • Squares = Distribution (Green = Successful; Red = Unsuccessful; Yellow = Key Passes;  Blue = Assist)
  • Inverted Triangle = Dribbling (Green = Successful; Red = Unsuccessful)
  • Upright Triangle = Defense (Blue = Interception; Gold = Recovery; Purple = Clearance; Green = Tackles; Yellow = Blocks)

Thankfully, this did not cost the US points they needed. If the Yanks want to do anything in the World Cup, the General will need to be much better in the future.

Overall, thanks to John Anthony Brooks’s textbook header to celebrate becoming cap-tied, and a solid team defensive effort, the US took all three points. The win, combined with the beatdown Germany put on Portugal, might allow the Yanks to escape the Group of Death with just one more point.

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Follow OTF Soccer on Twitter @OTFSoccer

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T.J. Zaremba was BarnBurner #110 and 1998 second-half season ticket holder in Section 8 of pre-mothership Soldier Field. After over a decade on walkabout, with a handful of guest appearances, he returned in 2011 and has been a regular (when his commitment to Uncle Sam allows it) at Toyota Park with his wife and the Hamster. Follow T.J. @TJZaremba

*infographics courtesy of mlssoccer.com and squawka.com

One thought on “USMNT Breakdown: vs. Ghana – World Cup Group G, Game 1

  1. Pingback: Brazil 2014: World Cup Group G – USMNT vs. Portugal – Preview | OTF Soccer

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