US vs. Ghana: It's an Even Money Bet

US has stronger ranking, but it's the 'away' team
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2010 3:53 PM CDT
Landon Donovan, left, celebrates with Edson Buddle after the big goal.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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(Newser) – When the US takes the field against Ghana Saturday afternoon in the next round of the World Cup, it'll be a toss-up on whether they'll advance. So says stats guru Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, who crunches numbers with ESPN on a Soccer Power Index. It's true that USA has a higher power ranking (it's now 14) than Ghana (33), but Ghana gets the "home continent" advantage from the odds-makers. Without that, USA would be 60-40 favorites.

In a more tangible area, Ghana has a solid defense to counter USA's stronger offense. In short, "it's not easy to beat Ghana in a World Cup played in Africa," Silver adds, "and it's certainly not easy to beat a team playing as well as Uruguay should we get them in the quarterfinal. But these are the kinds of matches we'll have to start winning, and with some consistency, if we're going to progress into the next tier of international football. "

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