U.S. Exits 2010 FIFA World Cup in Hard Fought 2-1 Extra Time Defeat to Ghana in Round of 16

RUSTENBURG, South Africa (June 26, 2010) – The U.S. Men’s National Team fell 2-1 in extra time to an inspired Ghana team in their 2010 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 matchup in Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa. The USA’s first loss of the tournament ends the team’s impressive World Cup run that saw them win their group over England, Slovenia and Algeria.

“I think the first thoughts for all of us are simple. We felt that in the first round we showed a lot of good qualities, you get through the first round and give yourself a chance now to go far," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. "We felt that we had that ability and we’re disappointed that we didn’t get past this game and continue to test ourselves.”

Following a 1-1 draw in regulation, Ghana scored a brilliant game-winner in the third minute of extra time on a 15-yard blast from Asamoah Gyan, who expertly split the U.S. defense and fired his shot over goalkeeper Tim Howard. Gyan was sprung by a high, searching ball played by midfielder Andre Ayew from his own defensive half.

The USA dominated play in the second half and tied the match on a penalty kick from Landon Donovan, set-up by one of the team’s many chances in front of the net in the final 45 minutes. On the goal, it was Donovan’s clever back heel touch from a hard pass in the midfield from Benny Feilhaber that enabled Clint Dempsey to skip the ball through the legs of Ghana’s captain John Mensah and into the area where he was taken down with a late challenge by Jonathan Mensah.

On the ensuing penalty kick, Donovan calmly banked his shot off the right post as Ghanaian goalkeeper Richard Kingson dove the wrong way. With the goal, Donovan now stands atop the U.S. World Cup record book for matches played (12), goals scored (5) and consecutive games with a goal (3).

Despite numerous opportunities, the U.S. could not get the second goal they needed in regulation play to avoid participating in their first ever World Cup overtime match. The two best chances for the U.S. to grab the late lead came in the 76th minute off the foot of Michael Bradley, who beat the Ghana offside trap and hit a turnaround left-footed shot in the penalty area that Kingson got low to save. Just four minutes later, Jozy Altidore battled through his defensive markers and, while falling to the turf in the same part of the penalty area as Bradley’s attempt, was able to lift a light shot past Kingson that bounced just outside the right post.

The USA’s best chances to score in overtime, fittingly, came in the 120th minute of the game with Dempsey having a dangerous shot blocked from eight yards out by the scrambling Ghana defense. That attempt came after a cross from Steve Cherundolo was headed down dangerously by 91st minute substitute Herculez Gómez. Immediately following that attempt, Gómez hit a vicious shot from 20 yards that deflected dangerously close to the left post. On the ensuing corner, the U.S. pressure increased and Kingson was forced to make consecutive one-handed punch clearances in traffic, with the last gasp U.S. attempt coming on a looping 20-yard side volley from Jay DeMerit that went over the bar by just a few feet.

As they did in two of their Group C matches, the U.S. fell behind early, with Ghana striking in just the fifth minute after a giveaway in the center circle by midfielder Ricardo Clark. With Ghana midfielder Kwando Asamoah nicking the ball away to Kevin Prince Boateng, it was immediately on for the Ghanaian midfielder who dribbled straight forward with pace against the surprised U.S. defense and was able to slot a perfectly placed shot into the lower left corner of the goal past Howard.

The U.S. had an excellent chance to tie the match in the first half with Dempsey springing Robbie Findley free into the area for a one-on-one shot with the goalkeeper, but Kingson was up to the challenge, denying the U.S. forward with a kick save from 12 yards out.

The U.S. finished their strong World Cup showing with a 1-1-2 record in four matches, scoring five times and allowing five goals. The World Cup appearance was the sixth consecutive for the Americans who have advanced to the knockout stages in three of those tournaments, including a run to the quarterfinals in 2002.

Ghana will now face Uruguay in the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals on Friday, July 2, in Johannesburg. 

                                          U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report

Match: United States vs. Ghana
Date: June 26, 2010
Competition: FIFA World Cup
Venue: Royal Bafokeng Stadium – Rustenburg, South Africa
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. local time
Attendance: 34,976
Weather: 57 degrees Fahrenheit and clear

Scoring Summary:     1     2     OT1     OT2     F
USA                            0     1       0          0        1
Ghana                         1     0       1          0        2

GHA – Kevin Prince Boateng                             5th minute
USA – Landon Donovan (penalty)                     62
GHA – Asamoah Gyan (Andre Ayew)                93

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 15-Jay DeMerit, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 10-Landon Donovan, 4-Michael Bradley, 13 -Ricardo Clark (19-Maurice Edu, 31), 8-Clint Dempsey; 20-Robbie Findley (22-Benny Feilhaber, 46) 17-Jozy Altidore (9-Herculez Gomez, 91)
Subs not used: 18-Brad Guzan, 23-Marcus Hahnemann; 2-Jonathan Spector, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 11-Stuart Holden, 14-Edson Buddle, 16-José Torres, 21-Clarence Goodson
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

GHA: 22-Richard Kingson; 2-Hans Sarpei (19-Lee Addy, 73) , 4-John Pantsil, 5-John Mensah (capt.), 7-Samuel Inkoom (11-Sulley Muntari, 113), 8-Jonathan Mensah; 6-Anthony Annan, 13-Andre Ayew, 21-Kwando Asamoah, 23-Kevin Prince Boateng (10-Stephen Appiah, 78); 3-Asamoah Gyan
Subs not used: 1-Daniel Agyei, 16-Stephen Ahorlu; 9-Derek Boateng, 12-Prince Tago, 14-Matthew Amoah, 17-Ibrahim Ayew, 18-Dominic Adiyiah, 20-Quincy Owusu-Abeyie
Subs not available: 15- Isaac Vorsah
Head Coach: Milovan Rajevac

Stats Summary: USA / GHA
Shots: 20 / 16
Shots on Goal: 6 / 6
Saves: 4 / 5
Corner Kicks: 5 / 4
Fouls: 11 / 18
Offside: 1/ 4

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Ricardo Clark                   (caution)      7th minute
USA – Steve Cherundolo             (caution)      18
GHA – Jonathan Mensah             (caution)      61
USA – Carlos Bocanegra             (caution)      68
GHA – Andre Ayew                    (caution)      90+2

Referee: Viktor Kassai (HUN)
Assistant Referee 1: Gabor Eros (HUN)
Assistant Referee 2: Tibor Vamos (HUN)
Fourth Official: Michael Hester (NZL)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match: TBD