Tonight the United States men’s national soccer team plays against Ghana at the World Cup in Brazil. Whether you’re a devoted soccer fan or you show your support every four years, here are seven things to know before the big game.
1. The odds are stacked against Team USA
It’s going to be a tough first game as the U.S. is a part of Group G, which is known as the “Group of Death.” , ”The USA shares Group G with Ghana, Portugal, and Germany, whom they will play in that order; the first knocked the Americans out of the last two World Cups; the second has arguably the world’s finest player in Cristiano Ronaldo, even though he is hobbled by injuries, and is always an outsider at the World Cup; the third has made more World Cup semifinals than any other country — a dozen in 17 appearances.”
2. Team USA has loyal fans
U.S. fans bought four times as many tickets as any other nation. Not only that, but the unofficial fans of the United States soccer team, the American Outlaws, chartered two planes to fly 530 Outlaws to Brazil. American Outlaws planned watch parties for 18,000 members across the country.
3. Ghana has knocked the U.S. out of the World Cup twice
This will be the third time the U.S. team faces Ghana. In the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, Ghana beat out the U.S. by a score of 2-1. Tim Howard, the U.S. goaltender, is confident that those two defeats won’t affect his team at all. “Obviously, we know how physical they are so we are going to try to match that. I’ve said it before, very rarely do we get outmatched physically but this is a team that has the possibility of doing that,” he said. “We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen and then just be kind of clever with our positioning and making sure that they don’t hit us in transition,” Howard told
3. The team is missing one of its best players
Landon Donovan, one of the most popular players in American history, did not make the USMNT roster for the World Cup. He had the biggest goals in 2010 and wowed fans in the 2002 World Cup. The major players to watch this year are Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, and Michael Bradley. All three players have played in at least one World Cup.
4. Team USA is already breaking records
DaMarcus Beasely, 32, is the only player who has played in four World Cups. He has played in 115 games for the USA and has played in England, Scotland, Holland, and Mexico for the U.S. And at 19, Julian Green, is the 28th youngest player in World Cup history.
5. The U.S. is undefeated in the warm-up matches
The USMNT played three warm-up games and are currently undefeated. They defeated Azerbaijani national team 2-0, Turkey 2-1, and Nigeria 2-1.
6. They’re trying a new diamond formation
Instead of their usual formation of 4-2-3-1, the U.S. team has a new strategy: the 4-4-2 “diamond.” It’s one of the oldest formations in soccer and it’s made up of four defenders, four midfielders, and two strikers. This new formation has been used before and teams have won using it, but it requires players to be aware of all positions, which can be more difficult. The formation can constantly change, which is a plus, but it means the defense will be open.
7. They have famous fans
Rapper Snoop Dogg took to Instagram to wish the team good luck.