One Great Season
In the wake — pun intended — of the US Men's National Team's second loss to Ghana in as many World Cups, I felt I'd scour that match's post-game news conference transcript for words from the players and coaches themselves instead of streaming my own 18 yards of heartbreak-laced profanities. OGS has been, after all, a family website for more than 40 years.
This means that, with Sunday afternoon's thrashing of England, Germany and Group D-mates Ghana have moved into the quarterfinals, proving that "D" stands for "Damn Strong."
P.S. Now that Ghana has moved into the Quarterfinals, the author deeply regrets Korea's loss to Uruguay, as this would have realized his lifelong dream of watching the first "Ghana-Rea" match in history.
USA Coach Bob Bradley
On post-match sentiment:
"There's a pretty empty feeling right now because I think coming out of the first round, we felt that there was a real chance of doing something bigger."
On benching central defender Oguchi Onyewu in favor of Jonathan Bornstein on the left and Carlos Bocanegra in the middle:
"We thought that it was important to have both our outside backs being active and trying to get into the attack. Johnny Bornstein had fresh legs coming into this game and his running on that side of the field and his energy would help us. Carlos and Jay (DeMerit) have been a good pairing. The fact is also that in Gooch's comeback, before we got going with (the tuneup games) and then the first two games of the group, he had been out for a long time. You have to factor in minutes."
On opposing players who feign injury:
"I hate to see players acting like they've been hit getting away with it. That is the simplest thing of all to clean up. When I see Kaka get sent off, it's too bad for the game because he is a great player. That is play-acting at its best — or worst. I like to see real competition. I would be in favor that, if it's as obvious as somebody getting pushed in the chest and grabbing his face and laying on the ground, I would rescind the red card and suspend the player who did it for a good number of games.
On the growth of the game in the US:
"We understand that every four years, to some degree, that growth will be put to the test by the results of that World Cup. That's just the way it is. If we do take it further, then maybe that shows people the progress. When you don't, then you still have to keep going. So we've got to keep going.
USA Midfielder Landon Donovan
On losing to Ghana:
"Soccer is a cruel game. Sometimes you're at the top and sometimes you're at the bottom of the mountain. It sucks, man."
On his team's errors:
"I think the way we went out is frustrating because we played a pretty good game, but made a couple of mistakes and got punished for it. It's a tough lesson to learn when you don't get a chance to redeem yourself. I guess the warning signs were there, getting scored on early, and it came back to bite us."
On whether the energy spent fighting back for three straight games took its toll:
"I actually don't think so. I thought we were the fitter team and had more energy in the second half and into overtime. But when you're consistently behind in games, it's very difficult to get back into it."
On the end of the World Cup for Team USA:
"The finality of it is brutal. You realize how much you've put into it not just in the last four years, but your whole life. There's no guarantee there's another opportunity at that. It's disappointing."
USA Goalkeeper Tim Howard
On the future of American soccer:
"We're one of the biggest countries in the world so we've got to start producing some megastars somewhere along the line. But you have to catch that bug first, so you hope this is all part of it for the next generation coming up. I'm sure it will be. I have no doubt."
USA Defender Jay Demerit
On Ghana's second goal:
"When you have sharp forwards that sit on your shoulder, they wait for balls like that. For defenders, we have to worry about the ball in front and the ball behind, and sometimes you get caught in two minds or you just get caught in the space and have to react. The athleticism that they have on that team, they were able to react a little bit quicker than us and showed good strength and a good finish.
Ghana Coach Milovan Rajevac
On the USA-Ghana match overall:
"Both teams deserved to win (Saturday), but only one could go to the quarterfinals. During extra time we needed strength and we had this strength."
On midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng's injury:
"Boateng was injured against Germany already. It is going to be a huge problem to get him ready for the next game."
On the challenges the team faces in the next match:
"It is fantastic to be in the eight best teams, but our problem over the next six days is an injury to Kevin-Prince Boateng that will have our medical staff working hard, and two players (André Ayew and Jonathan Mensah) suspended through second yellow cards."
Ghana Striker Asamoah Gyan
On team perception:
"I said it before: most of Africa turns to take us for granted, but we have proved the critics wrong. I'm the happiest man in the world we did it."
Ghana Midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng
On the injury sustained against the USA:
"I don't know if I will play in the quarterfinals. I don't know if it is a big tear in my hamstring but I will be devastated if I've to leave my friends and brothers like that, but I am praying."
Click here for Steve's bio and an archive of his previous stories.