Prepped for Ghana

With the U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup opener less than a week away, all of the focus has turned on the first and arguably most important game against Ghana. So much so, that when the U.S. Men’s National Team landed in São Paulo – Guarulhos International Airport on Monday – head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was not with the team.

Instead, he stayed behind to survey Ghana from the seats of SunLife Stadium in Miami on June 9 with adviser Berti Vogts and scout Matthias Hamann. Ghana, with the help of Jordan Ayew’s three goals, dominated South Korea in a 4-0 World Cup warm-up win.

In some ways, the U.S. is no stranger to Ghana. The Black Stars have eliminated the U.S. team from the 2006 and 2010 World Cup. However, the U.S. also boasts 17 players who have never appeared in a World Cup. Defender Matt Besler is among them, and now the Major League Soccer star is a favorite to start for the USA. Besler discussed his feelings going into the tournament after four years of preparation.

“I think we’ve put in a lot of work into everything the last year, the last two years especially with the preparation camp the last three weeks,” Besler said. “So, as a group, everyone is definitely ready to be down here and ready to play our first match against Ghana.”

Bradley, Besler and the rest of the team watched the second half of the Ghana game after a group dinner. Bradley said that the team did not catch much of the first half of the game, aside from the goals. Bradley knows from experience how important the first game will be for the USA’s chances of advancing.

“Statistically, the chances of advancing go way up if you’re able to get a point or three from the first game,” Bradley added. “We’ve certainly made no secret of the fact that all the focus at this point is about Ghana and making sure that we do everything we can so that on June 16 we step on the field and are ready to leave it all out there knowing that a good result puts us in a really good spot.”

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup opener against Ghana will take place on June 16 at 6 p.m. ET in Natal, live on ESPN, WatchESPN and Univision.