SCOTT PETERSON - Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The US U-20 MNT has everything to play for against Ghana Thursday as the group stage of the 2013 U-20 World Cup draws to a close.
After picking up a fortuitous point versus France on Monday, Tab Ramos' U-20 squad has put themselves in prime position to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament should they knock off Ghana.
Despite the fact that Ghana has dropped both of its matches thus far, it will be no easy task for the US as The Black Starlets, too, are still alive. Moreover, they were on par with France in the opener and dominated Spain for long stretches last time out.
Leading Ghana is Juventus striker Yiadom Boayke. Currently on-load to newly promoted Italian club Sassuolo, Boayke tallied 11 goals to help the Emilia-Romagna side its first-ever earn promotion to the Italian first division this past campaign; Boayke scored Ghana's only goal in the tournament in the 3-1 loss to France.
If the US is to get the victory, they will have to improve on the sluggish performance they delivered against France. The key is likely to be the midfield where the trio of Luis Gil, Mikey Lopez, and Will Trapp will have to do a more of what it displayed in the opener versus Spain - composure on the ball and crisp distribution, while clogging passing lanes when defending. The team will be short handed with the yellow card suspension of Benji Joya.
Should the US emerge from the contest victorious, their four points should be enough to make them one of the four best third-place teams, and thus book their place in the knockout stages.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. local time (1 p.m. Eastern).