2014 World Cup

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JULY 13 | RIO DE JANEIRO
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Ghana midfielders Essien, Boateng not starting vs. US

By Mike Singer | CBSSports.com

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Michael Essien isn't expected to start against the US. (Getty Images)

Everything's coming up aces for the US, and it hasn't even officially begun its World Cup campaign.

Just hours before it was set to face the US from Natal, Ghana announced that midfielders Michael Essien and Kevin-Prince Boateng would not start against the US. It's unclear whether it's because of injury or a tactical decision, but the omission is a sizable advantage for the US, especially due to Ghana's typical strength in the midfield. Boateng, in fact, scored Ghana's first goal against the US in their 2010 Round of 16 clash. Legendary midfielder Michael Essien is known for his skills on both sides of the ball and for his seemingly boundless energy. Both are considered key to Ghana's attack. Also of note, striker Majeed Waris isn't in the starting XI due to injury but he did train over the weekend.

As if that didn't build enough optimism going into Monday evening's match, Germany's 4-0 pounding of Portugal should give the US confidence it can score. What's more, a heated moment from Portugal defender Pepe earned him a red card which means he won't see the field against the US. A few injuries to key Portugal players (Hugo Almeida, for one) could leave their status in doubt as well.

The US can live with a draw against Ghana, but given the absences of both key players, three points seem very attainable this evening.

 
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