Game on: Lineups, talking points as the U.S. opens against Ghana

Leave a comment

The countdown to Brazil 2014 ended four days ago, but for fans of the U.S. Men’s National Team, the true wait is almost over. At 6:00 p.m. Eastern, the Stars and Stripes open their seventh straight World Cup with a chance at revenge, facing a Ghana team that’s knocked them out of the last two finals.

You can read more on the U.S.’s side of things here. For now, here’s a quick look at the team’s much-anticipated opener, due to kick off shortly in Natal, Brazil.

[ MORE, PreviewsGhana | United States | Group G ]
[ MORE, Soccerly: Preview Follow live ]

Starting lineups

Ghana: Kwarasey, Opare, Asamoah, Mensah, Boye, Rabiu, Atsu, Muntari, J. Ayew, Gyan, A. Ayew

United States: Howard, Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley, Beckerman, Jones, Bradley, Bedoya, Dempsey, Altidore

Talking points

1. 2006, 2010 – The United States has been seen out of the last two tournaments by Ghana, a fact that’s motivated both sides. While Jurgen Klinsmann’s men don’t want to become the latest Black Stars’ victims, the Ghanaians carry the expectations of their past’s success. In 2006, Ghana’s group stage win ensured the U.S. wouldn’t reach a second straight final 16, while in 2010, extra time helped the Black Stars discard the U.S. en route to their first quarterfinal.

2. Portugal’s plight – Neither Ghana nor the U.S. were favored to get out of Group G this morning, but after Portugal’s embarrassment earlier today, the door is open. The Seleccao are four goals to the bad and will be without defenders Pepe (red card) and possibly Fabio Coentrão (injury) when they face the U.S. on Sunday. Whomever wins this game will be the new favorite to finish behind Germany and make the knockout round.

3. The U.S.’s midfield – Between Gyan, the Ayews, and Atsu, Ghana has an enviable wealth of attacking talent, a battery that will be more impressive if Kevin Prince-Boateng’s brought on. The U.S., however, are capable of controlling the game, with Michael Bradley leading what often becomes a midfield five that can congestthe middle of the park. Ghana has to find way through that mire, while the U.S. needs to cut off access to their opponents’ most dangerous stars.

Expectation: Worldwide, Ghana seems to be slight favorites, but this should o be one of the tighter matches of the tournament’s opening week.

One blogger’s prediction: The U.S. exploits the Ghanaian defense to exorcise its demons, giving up a trademark late goal in a 2-1 win.

MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-3 Toronto FC (video)

Twitter/@theScoreMLS
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): Greg Vanney and Toronto keep on doing their thing, and the Canadian side is yet another step closer to achieving MLS glory. TFC picked up its 50th point of the season on Saturday night after comfortably handling the Chicago Fire, who have cooled off significantly as of late in the Eastern Conference. The Fire are now nine points behind the East leaders and are losers of four of their last five matches.

Three moments that mattered

54′ — Accam, Fire level it up — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from everybody…

64′ — Hasler nets first MLS goal — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from all of their players…

90′ — Giovinco says goodnight to Chicago — That’s 12 goals on the season for Sebastian Giovinco and the TFC striker continues to help his side push towards the top seed in the East and MLS.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Marco Delgado (14′), David Accam (54′), Nick Hasler (63′), Sebastian Giovinco (90′)

Video: Watts gifts D.C. United own goal for the ages

Twitter/@Burgundywave
Leave a comment

Not many things have gone right for either side involved in 2017, but D.C. United was the recipient of a gift early on against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.

[ MORE: Piatti brace lifts Impact to fourth win in a row; Orlando, Crew draw ]

In the 27th minute, Rapids center back Jared Watts received the ball at the back, before making a routine back pass to USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard

Or at least, it should have been a routine back pass.

Instead, Watts’ pass was well off target and too strong for Howard to reach and landed in the back of the Rapids goal. 1-0 in favor of D.C.

Reminder: Both these teams sit at the bottom of their respective conferences on points.

MLS Snapshot: Piatti brace lifts Impact | Crew, Orlando City draw

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): The Montreal Impact have proven to be a second-half of the season team the last several years, and that form appears to be holding true once more. Mauro Biello’s side won its fourth straight match on Saturday, while Ignacio Piatti continues to show he’s one of the most deadly scorers in the league. Meanwhile, RSL’s six-match unbeaten run is snapped north of the border, leaving the Western Conference side three points out of sixth place.

Three four moments that mattered

11′ — Piatti nets his first of the night — The Impact made this attack look so easy, and Ignacio Piatti simply won’t miss a chance like this one.

26′ — Evan Bush left motionless as RSL equalize — Luis Silva took matters into his own hands, and boy did he connect with this effort!

29′ — Impact punish poor RSL defense — Guess who? Piatti has his second of the evening.

47′ — Hosts begin to pile it on — Anthony Jackson-Hamel played provider in the first two goals, so it’s only fair he got one of his own.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Ignacio Piatti (11′, 29′), Luis Silva (26′), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (47′)


The game in 100 words (or less): Orlando City and the Crew settled for a point apiece on Saturday night, but for the former the club is running out of opportunities to pick up points in the playoff race. Giles Barnes pulled a goal back for the hosts after Lalas Abubakar netted his first MLS goal for the Crew, but Orlando couldn’t find a second. The Lions played up a man for the final 13 minutes, following Harrison Afful’s dismissal.

Three moments that mattered

35′ — Abubakar knocks in first MLS goal — Orlando City’s defensive woes are certainly notable as well, but for Lalas Abubakar this is a quality way to open his scoring account in MLS.

67′ — Barnes knots it up at 1-1 — The veteran MLS forward picked up his second goal of the season.

77′ — VAR used for red card decision — The video monitor came into play briefly in the second half, and Harrison Afful was sent off the pitch early after the referee viewed the defender’s elbow to the head of Yoshi Yotun.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Zack Steffen

Goalscorers: Lalas Abubakar (35′), Giles Barnes (67′)

Atlanta United fans pack 20,000 into new stadium for training session

AP Photo/John Raoux
Leave a comment

Atlanta United is currently in the midst of a three-match road trip in MLS play, but that didn’t stop the club from unveiling its new home venue to a massive crowd of supporters on Saturday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Over 20,000 fans of the Eastern Conference expansion side filed into Mercedes-Benz Stadium to watch Gerardo Martino’s side train on Saturday as Atlanta prepares to finish out its road trip against D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union.

Atlanta will open up home play at their new stadium on September 10 when they host FC Dallas. The club will have the benefit of playing eight of its final 10 regular season matches in front of its Georgia fan base.

The first-year MLS side will share the stadium with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

Here are some sights from the training session