Charleston Battery vs. LA Galaxy II
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Blackbaud Stadium
Records: Galaxy 8-3-3 (27 points); Battery 3-5-4 (13 points)
Charleston midfielder Zach Prince is never shy about expressing his opinion in the Battery's locker room.
So when the subject of Monday's World Cup match between the United States and Ghana came up earlier in the week, the former College of Charleston star didn't hesitate to let his Battery teammates know which team he thought would win.
"We got a lot of guys from all across the world in our locker room and so everyone is pulling for their country to win," said Prince, who expressed confidence in the U.S. team. "It's all friendly trash talking, but it's definitely there. You got to let the other guys know who you're pulling for."
Charleston midfielder Aminu Abdallah and defender Emmanuel Adjetey are both from Ghana and know they are outnumbered in the Battery's locker room when the discussion turns to the World Cup.
The Battery, which spent all week preparing for its USL Pro match Saturday night against the LA Galaxy II at Blackbaud Stadium, will have an informal watch party for the U.S.-Ghana match. Abdallah and Adjetey figure they'll have a few allies in the room during the match. Mamadou Diouf (Senegal) and Amadou Sanyang (Gambia) are geographically aligned with their teammates from Ghana.
"I've got to represent the African continent and go with Ghana," Sanyang said. "I know it won't be popular with some of the guys, but you've got to stick with your brothers."
But other than that, Abdallah and Adjetey will see a lot of red, white and blue on Monday.
"It's a huge match for us," Abdallah said. "It's the first game of the World Cup and you want to put your best foot forward. We made it out of the group in the last World Cup and we want to do even better this time. The American players on the team have been talking, but we'll wait and do our talking after the match is over."
Ghana defeated the United States in the last two Worlds Cups - 2006 and 2010 - by identical 2-1 scores.
"The United States will be out for revenge, so we know it's not going to easy for us to win this match," Adjetey said. "We knocked them out of the World Cup last time and that was a huge victory for our country. I think that gives us confidence."
The United States and Ghana are in what many believe to be the toughest group - Group G - in the World Cup tournament, which kicked off Thursday with Brazil's 3-1 victory over Croatia. Nicknamed "The Group of Death" by the international media, the U.S. is joined by Germany and Portugal in the group stage. Germany is the second-ranked team in the latest FIFA rankings, while Portugal is fourth; the U.S. is 13th and Ghana is No. 37.
That's why winning Monday's match will be crucial for the U.S.'s chances of getting out of their group.
"I'm optimistic, I think they'll get it done," said veteran Battery defender John Wilson. "It won't be easy, but I think the U.S. will beat Ghana and get a result or tie with Portugal. If they can find a way to contain (Cristiano) Ronaldo and sneak one in, I really like their chances against Portugal."
In an informal poll, most of the Battery players felt like the United States would get out of the group stage.
"They've got to beat Ghana and then get a result against either Germany or Portugal," said Battery captain Colin Falvey, a native of Ireland. "I'm pulling for the U.S. It's kind of my adopted country, so I want to see them make it out of the group stage."
Defender Quinton Griffith and keeper Odisnel Cooper have played in World Cup qualifying matches during the careers. Griffith, who played against the U.S. in a qualifying match, has scored four goals for the Antigua and Barbuda national team in international competition. Cooper has made three appearances for the Cuban team in World Cup qualifying matches.
"It's an emotional time for me because I've played against some of the countries before," Cooper said. "You're playing against the best teams and best players in the world."
United States coach Jürgen Klinsmann created some controversy when he told the media that he didn't think the team was ready to win a World Cup title.
Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser said Klinsmann was probably using gamesmanship to motivate his players.
"Americans love an underdog and I think he said it so his guys can be a little loose coming into the tournament," Anhaeuser said. "We had that great run in Korea and made it out of the group stage and then really struggled in the last World Cup when expectations were so high. I think he's trying to get other countries to overlook us a little bit."
Anhaeuser said he has tried to keep his players focused on their game against the LA Galaxy II.
"I don't want guys sitting around watching soccer for six hours (Saturday) before the match," Anhaeuser said. "I want them to do whatever they normally do the day of a match. I've brought it up a couple of times during training this week."
Orlando City's Skyler Russell watches as the ball travels away after being tripped up by Charleston Battery's Aminu Abdallah at Blackbaud Stadium on May 28, 2014. Michael Pronzato/ Staff×
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