The United States Soccer Team (W-D-L 0-1-2) was eliminated earlier this afternoon from the 2006 FIFA Soccer World Cup with a 2-1 loss to Ghana (2-0-1). The difference in the game was a controversial penalty on Team USA just before halftime that resulted in Ghana’s 2nd goal. After a thrilling run into the Quarterfinal Round in the 2002 World Cup; the US fails to make it into the Round of 16 this year. Ghana, who is appearing in its first World Cup, will move on to most likely face reigning World Cup Champion Brazil (2-0-0) on June 27th in Dortmund, Germany. Brazil plays Japan (0-1-1) this afternoon in Dortmund at 3 PM EDT. Like the USA entering today’s match against Ghana; Japan needs a win against powerful Brazil to stay alive in the tournament.
Team USA appeared to be in good shape battling back to a 1-1 tie in the 43rd minute of the game on a beautiful goal by Clint Dempsey. The deciding goal came a few minutes later; when in the 3rd minute of stoppage time just before halftime (48th minute) USA’s Oguchi Onyewu was penalized for pushing resulting in a Ghana penalty kick from 12 yards out. Ghana’s Captain, Stephen Appiah, buried the penalty kick in the top of the net for what would turn out to be the game winner. On replay, it looked like both players were going for the ball resulting in incidental contact. Nonetheless, the score stood at 2-1 to start the second half. Team USA failed to get much offensive pressure on Ghana in the 2nd half and US goal scoring machine, Eddie Johnson, was sent into the game after the 60th minute by Coach Bruce Arena and failed to give the USA the scoring spark it desperately needed.
On balance, it looked like Ghana outplayed the US even without the controversial penalty kick. Ghana’s attack and ball distribution was well balanced and seemed to keep the US squad back on their heels a bit. The US seemed to play flat and never really got much offense going. Perhaps the thrilling tie with Italy earlier in the week took some zip out of the US team’s legs. This loss will be seriously scrutinized by USA Soccer who had great expectations coming off of their surprising 2002 Cup performance.