Nemesis. That might as well be what it says across Ghana’s jerseys when the U.S. takes the field this evening in Natal, Brazil. The last two World Cups ended with a shell-shocked U.S. staring at Ghana’s tail lights and wondering what the hell just hit them, and the stars have aligned to give Ghana a chance to do one better tonight by ending America’s World Cup before it ever really begins. That’s one possible outcome tonight. But, no.
Not after a revolutionary new coach took the reigns and turned American soccer on its head; not after the U.S. beat Costa Rica in a blizzard then proceeded to bury just about every CONCACAF opponent who stood in its way the rest of World Cup qualification; and not after an influx of new recruits and foreign reinforcements combined to form quite possibly the strongest team the United States has ever taken to a World Cup.
In any great Greek epic, Star Wars movie or Wishbone episode, the hero cannot achieve glory until they defeat their nemesis. Today, the US has its chance, and everyone knows it. Everyone knows that America’s only path of escape from the Group of Death starts with a win today in Natal. As with the prior two meetings with Ghana, this represents a seminal moment for U.S. soccer; one that – for better or for worse – will define the way we view this team and this coach. Win tonight, and history gets rewritten. Win tonight, and vengeance is ours. Win tonight, and anything is possible.
Alright, preview time. HIT THE MUSIC:
Ghana: “2014 Miami Heat Three-peat” t-shirts and other erroneous championship apparel.
Ghana: Defend in numbers then break out on the counter-attack.
USA: The Roosevelt Corollary.
Ghana: “God Bless Our Homeland, Ghana”
USA: “The Star-Spangled Banner,” also, this.
Advantage: Tie, just kidding AMERICA
Ghana: Recent history, also, witch doctors.
USA: American exceptionalism, freedom, The Rock, military supremacy, Starbucks…pretty much everything cool happens to be American. Those are just facts, y’all.
Ghana: did not found Ghana.
USA: founded America.
Key Players for Ghana:
Kevin Prince Boateng: Here’s everything you need to know about this man’s decision-making skills: His middle name is Prince and instead he goes by “Kevin.” Simple idiot WITCHA NON-REGAL ASS.
Asoamoah Gyan: Notable for being the first man to launch a potential game-winning penalty kick off the crossbar and into the thermosphere in a World Cup quarterfinal.
Wakaso Mubarak: According to his hairstyle, Mubarak is a crazy person.
Key Players for the USA:
You know the stars: Clint Dempsey is like Landon Donovan plus TJ Oshie to the power of General William Tecumseh Sherman riding a giant bald eagle. Michael Bradley is a locomotive that became self-aware and learned to shoot laser-guided soccer balls. Jozy Altidore is soccer’s answer to Mt. Helena, an unstoppable force of nature that is dormant pretty much all the time. Tim Howard made Tourette’s cool – ’nuf said. But what about some of the lesser known players who are key to US success?
Mix Diskerud: Born in Oslo, Norway, Diskerud’s mother hails from Arizona, though it is his father, Odin, of Asgard, who has had the most pronounced impact on his life. Diskerud has spent much of professional and personal life pillaging his way across Scandinavia, Greenland, Nova Scotia and Canada, leaving a trail of smoldering bodies and decimated villages in his wake. Diskerud’s Viking warpath now continues in Brazil, where he won’t be satisfied until the Amazon River runs red with the blood of his enemies, or until the US gets out of its group. Strengths: Marauding midfielder; bloodthirsty scorer; will torture defenders long after the game is over. Weakness: Penchant for red cards due to use of battle axe; horns on helmet occasionally deflate ball when going for headers.
Aron Johannsson: Born in Alabama, the 23-year-old Icelandic striker has had an interesting road to Rio. Once a diminutive but eager young athlete, Johannsson became a super soldier and led the U.S. to victories over Germany and Hydra in the 1940s before disappearing deep in the arctic waters of Iceland after heroically saving New York City. Johannsson was all but forgotten until coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents discovered him and nursed the fallen hero back to health. Strengths: Model American, plays like a far younger than his age would suggest, can outrun most vehicles and/or defenses. Weaknesses: Does not understand references to events that occurred after 1946.
Graham Zusi: The bro-flowed midfield star for Sporting Kansas City is already a living legend in the state of Kansas or Missouri, having led his team to an MLS Cup last season over Real Salt Lake, something Lionel Messi has never been able to do. The four-year pro has already been named to the MLS all-star game twice – two more times than Cristiano Ronaldo – and has scored 17 more MLS goals than Luis Suarez and Didier Drogba, combined. Zusi also starred in college at the University of Maryland, where his Terrapins won two NCAA championships — more than double the number of NCAA championships won by Brazil – and he graduated from Maryland with a degree in Criminology in 2008, something no Premier League player has ever accomplished in any year.
Fabian Johnson: Johnson is one of several American players who grew up in Germany, having been born to a U.S. serviceman and a German mother. “NOT FAIR!” other countries stupidly proclaim when pointing out the influx of Germans on our U.S. roster. You know how many teams would be comprised of Germans if it wasn’t for patriots like Fabian Johnson’s dad? ALL OF ‘EM. Did Fabian Johnson’s dad (that’s Mr. Johnson to you) want to be in Germany? No. But he went there to liberate Europe, kill Hitler, and preserve freedom as we know it, and guess what? He happened to have a child while he was there; a child who would never know tyranny or genocide thanks to the bravery of Allied Leaders like Eisenhower, Churchill and Fabian Johnson’s dad. Would you prefer Mr. Johnson stayed home and let Europe be overrun by a genocidal army? No, you wouldn’t. Fabian Johnson’s dad is the reason why you and I are speaking English today, and you should show some respect.
I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN. Enjoy the game y’all. ROCK FLAG AND EAGLE.