Michael Bradley: Friendlies mean little
SAO PAOLO -- When the United States begins its World Cup campaign against Ghana on Monday there will be key changes from the sides' meeting four years ago, squad veterans Tim Howard and Michael Bradley said on Tuesday.
"It's a different team than the one that we played in 2010, with a different coach," Bradley said after Tuesday's practice. "In 2010, they played more 4-1-4-1, were pretty organized. I think those little details are still to be seen, how they're now going to approach first game against us."
Bradley's memories of the 2010 round-of-16 defeat to Ghana are vivid. And while stylistically, much remains the same about the Black Stars, the Toronto FC midfielder said he wasn't reading too much into Ghana's 4-0 friendly win Monday vs. South Korea. He said the U.S. team watched the friendly and had a meeting after the match.
"In general, I think it's hard to take much from any of these warm-up games," he said. "Teams are trying different things, different guys get put on field in different spots. It's always important to remember that players get put in difficult spots in these games. Now, you want to be sharp, you want to play well. You're trying to make sure as the tournament gets closer, there's confidence and there's momentum.
"But at the same time, they're still warm-up games. I think last night was a good example of that. It would be easy to look at end, and say, 4-0, what a performance. But still, it's a warm-up game."
Howard similarly isn't putting too much stock in past history vs. Ghana. The Black Stars are making their third World Cup appearance after their tournament debut in 2006. That year in Germany, they reached the Round of 16. In 2010, they made it to the quarterfinals and came close to edging Uruguay to reach the final four.
There is no revenge factor most of these guys won't even remember those games, it is a new team we are excited for it," Howard said. "Ghana might throw a wrinkle on us and we have to be able to figure that out."
Ghana's game has traditionally focused on possession and midfield dominance. The team's manager Kwesi Appiah has said he relishes the "Brazil of Africa" tag.
"We have a lot of respect for Ghana. We know that they're dangerous and they can cause trouble," Bradley said. "I remember quite a bit [about 2010]. It was a game where we obviously found ourselves down early but the response was good. For the majority of that game we were the ones in control and pushing things and looking to get back to 1-1, and once we did get back to 1-1, we were still pushing for winner."