As a USMNT fan heading into the vital match with Ghana, things literally could not have gone any better for the United States.
Germany annihilated Portugal 4-0, which I tabbed as an incredibly helpful possibility about three weeks ago.
In that match, Germany held Portugal to zero points, stuck them with an early -4 goal differential, and saw Pepe sent off with a monstrously stupid red card which means he will be suspended for the United States match in Manaus.
In addition, Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao were both injured and likely out for the match against the US, thinning a clearly unmotivated Portugal squad. Now, let me be clear that nobody roots for injuries, but the United States will take small advantages any way can they get them.
Also on the injury front, German defender Mats Hummels limped off the field against Portugal, although manager Joachim Low said it’s just a “blow to the thigh” and likely not that bad.
Of course, none of this means anything if the US can’t successfully pick up three points against Ghana, which kicks off at 6pm ET. But there’s more on that as well.
The Ghana lineup is without two important pieces – Michael Essien and Kevin-Prince Boateng. According to African journalist Theo Sayki, KPB “isn’t even 60% fit,” an enormous hit for Ghana. Boateng sliced the United States to pieces in 2010, and it’s big for the US that he’s not able to go.
The United States has plenty of work to do, and all of this is moot if they can’t beat Ghana. But if they do, pieces are beginning to fall into place that could give USMNT fans a bit more optimism moving forward in Group G.