I was watching the Uruguay-South Korea match and as exciting as it was, I was trying to save my energy for the USA-Ghana tiff at 230am. It had been a long day for me and like the Azzurri's Fabio Cannavaro, I was running on fumes. It managed to finish some work but with my senses dulled I had no way to tell if it made sense or not. So I tuned things out and waited. Game time at 230. The Sons of Sam conceded an early goal once more. It was an excellent run by Portsmouth's Kevin Prince Boateng who scored Ghana's first goal on open play rather than a penalty kick. I wondered how bad could this be? England did the same and the US came back. However, Ghana's defense was superb. So I stewed and waited. Watched one botched chance after another until Clint Dempsey was brought down. Then Landon Donovan scored from the penalty area to level the match. But instead of gaining momentum, Ghana kept repelling their attacks. There horrors! Asamoah Gyan scored from a wicked left boot that skirted Tim Howard's fingertips. And there were to be no last minute equalizer to send it to penalties.
On one hand, I am happy for Ghana. As the last remaining African team in the competition, it is always good to have representation in the face of a mounting South American challenge. But on the other hand, I so wanted to see the US go to at least the round of eight. That would have been huge!
I couldn't sleep anymore. After all, what time was it? Past 5am?
And so I wondered. The US still has a pretty good team. The concern about these comeback kids is -- can they come back and do this all over again? Some of them will be over 30 if not in their mid-30s by the next Confed Cup (2013) and World Cup (2014) with both competitions being held in Brazil. Keeper Tim Howard, right back Steve Cherundolo, and team captain Carlos Bocanegra are all 31 years of age now. Central Back Jay Demerit is 30. Forward Edson Buddle is 29 and line mates Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu are 28. Clint Dempsey and Ricardo Clark are 27. The only obvious retiree from this team will be backup keeper Marcus Hannemann who never got to see playing time in this World Cup. The task now would be to look for new central defenders since one wonders how much more pounding can Onyewu's knees take. And Demerit... well. Even Boateng's run came right through him and Bocanegra.
But still, there is much to take away from this team. In 2006, the USA (maybe preposterously) were ranked 5th in the World. Their inability to get out of the group stage where Ghana also ousted them at 2-1 saw them tumble to #16 if I am not mistaken. Now there is even greater hope that they can become a real football power.
Now, all they have to do is win the Gold Cup, do well in their qualifiers and when the time comes... beat Ghana.
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)