National Trivia: With a population of about 24 million people in a country of 92,000 square miles, Ghana is roughly the size and shape of Ohio and Pennsylvania combined. But the entire Ghanaian economy's GDP ($35 billion) is about equal to the gross output of the Dayton, Ohio, metro area.
Who To Support: What do you know: all three countries (Japan, Mexico, Ghana) that third-graders in Montgomery Country PUblic Schools studied back in the late '80s are somewhat unlikely finalists in the round of 16. Yet despite my belated acknowledgment of the awesomeness of "Black Stars," this is easy. U-S-A!
Player to Watch: Ghana's Asamoah Gyan. The Black Stars' man up front has 21 goals in 42 international matches, and has been the bright spot of the Ghanaian attack so far in this tournament. (His only two goals, though -- Ghana's only two goals! -- have come at the penalty spot). If the Ghanaian counterattack, or US defensive mistakes, are going to cost the Americans in this game depends in enormous part on whether this man can finish his chances today.
What To Expect: Zonal Marking thinks the US will dominate possession and create chances, but look vulnerable to speedy Black Star counters. This sounds reasonable to me; but I have a strangely serene confidence that the US will have the better of things today. Although Ghana only allowed one goal each to Germany and Australia, the Germans were a bit unlucky to have more, and took their feet off the gas in the second half; the Aussies dominated much of the game despite being down to 10 men. I see goals today, and more of them for the Americans: how about USA 3, Ghana 1, with HERCULEZ Gomez (below) making his debut on the World Cup score sheet.
Now what do you say?