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USA vs. Ghana Prediction

Knockout Round Betting Analysis

6/26/10

After having watched the majority of the games in the opening round of World Cup play, it's safe to say that the USA team belongs here in the "Sweet 16" or "Knockout Round". They have a very real chance at making it into the semi finals and really putting an exclamation point on the end of the sentence "USA Soccer has arrived!"

USA soccer has come a long way. They  have made strides each and every year since hosting the World Cup in 1994. Over the years they have been looked at as a joke. Not anymore. Winning the Confederations Cup last year was a major stepping stone. But now they have a chance to really put their foot down and leave their mark. The USA team, at least in this writers eyes, have played better than many of the so called world soccer powers in this World Cup. They have stepped up to the plate when the pressure was on and were able to get the job done.

Sure, there have been some lopsided games and nice performances by teams like Portugal, Brazil and Argentina. But other so called powers, England and Italy for example, have looked mediocre at best. Goals are generally hard to come by in soccer at this level. Even the announcers pretty much write off any teams chances of winning, even being down just 1-0 with a few minutes to go.

But the USA team has been able to score goals at pivotal times, unlike many other teams in this tournament. Down 2-0 at the half to Slovenia, the USA was able to come back and gain a tie. That in itself was an accomplishment, but the soccer world knows the USA team was robbed in that one as they scored the 3rd and winning goal in that game only to have the goal disallowed, for no apparent reason. A 3 goal 2nd half comeback in World Cup play is unheard of.

They then were able to make a final charge up field in a 0-0 tie game with Algeria to score one of the most exciting goals in the tournament and win a 1-0 game, sending them to the knockout round. Now, the doubters will say sure, Algeria and Slovenia, both are cupcake teams. Perhaps. But England wasn't able to get by Algeria, were they? Those that believe in the USA team will also remind you that the USA team knocked off Spain in the Confederations Cup last year and lost a heartbreaking 3-2 decision to Brazil in the final. Many would argue that they put their stamp on the soccer world last year.

I'd disagree. The World Cup is the biggest stage there is in the soccer world. If you're going to tell the world that you're here to stay and are going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come, this is where it needs to be done. Getting to this point isn't enough. They need to advance. Heck, they need to win it all.

Four years ago it was Ghana who put the final nail in the USA World Cup dreams. Fast forward 4 years, and once again Ghana stands in the way. USA players remember that Ghana game like it was yesterday. Here is a quote from Landon Donavan - "That was not a good day for me or for the team," Donovan said Thursday. "What I remember is my tentativeness and immediate feeling afterward, the finality of that and how disappointing that was"

At this stage, there are no pushovers. But Ghana is beatable for sure. They only managed a tie against the Aussies, lost to Serbia and lost to the Germans. I guess holding the Germans to one goal was an accomplishment but it seems clear that this USA team is better than Ghana and with the loss 4 years ago still fresh, expect the USA team to leave nothing to chance.

At odds of -118 or better to advance, the price is very fair. Is there a little patriotism in this selection? Sure, probably so. But it's still a solid play and worth at least a half unit.

Remember, in this round, there will always be a winner. If the game is ties after 90 minutes there will be penalty kicks to decide the match. You must understand the terms of your bet before making the plunge. There will be odds posted on the USA to advance to the quarterfinals and there will be odds posted on the USA to win in regulation time. Our wager above, is on the USA to advance, which means our wager includes the penalty kicks!!

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