[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] Now we know why Jurgen Klinsmann took the unusual step of staying behind in Miami while the U.S. national team flew on to Sao Paulo, where it practiced for the first time on Monday afternoon. He got an up-close look at Ghana's Black Stars, watching along with his German scouts, Berti Vogts and Matthias Hamann, as the USA's opening opponents put on a devastating display in a 4-0 win over South Korea at the near-empty Sun Life Stadium.
Ghana showed just why it's again considered Africa's top hope at the World Cup, putting two goals past the Koreans in both halves. The star was
22-year-old Jordan Ayew, the younger of two sons of former great Abedi Pele on the Black Stars. Ayew wasn't even a
starter but came on Abdul Majeed Waris, who went off with a leg injury in the fourth minute.
Ayew, whose older brother Andre starts for Ghana, scored nine minutes later as Ghana dismantled the Korean defense in numbers. Asamoah Gyan broke down the left wing and fed
Sulley Muntari, whose pass failed to find Kevin Prince Boateng in front of the goal, but Ayew came racing in on the far
side to score on a deflected shot.
Gyan, whose goal was the difference in the Black Stars' 2-1 overtime win over the USA in the round of 16 four years ago, showed off his legendary
strength, stripping a Korean defender of the ball in midfield and racing in to make it 2-0 just before halftime. Ayew added two goals in the second half, the first with a low shot from distance to the
far post and the second from close range off a centering pass from Albert Adomah.
Ghana certainly has its weaknesses -- South Korea had a 12-8 edge
in shots but was plagued by poor finishing -- but it showed off the clinical finishing that ended Egypt's dream of qualifying for the World Cup in the African playoffs and no doubt reassured Klinsmann
about his decision to add defensive cover with the addition of Kyle Beckerman as a holding midfielder for the USA's final tune-up, a 2-1 win over Nigeria on
Ghana -- Dadau, Afful, Boye, Mensah, K.Asamoah, Rabiu (Acquah 59), Muntari (Agyemang-Badu 59), A.Ayew (Adomah 74), Gyan (Wakaso 64), Waris
(K.Ayew 4), Boateng (Atsu 56),
On the Ground ...
TRAFFIC MESS. Following the game, Klinsmann and his German scouts, Berti Vogts and Matthias Hamann, took an overnight flight to Sao Paulo, where they will join up with the U.S. team.
Since the USA was
practicing just hours after arriving in Brazil, the workout was light and conducted by assistants Andi Herzog and Tab
The only issue the USA faced was a long wait in traffic for the ride from the airport to its hotel and from the hotel to the Barra Funda training center in the notorious Sao
Paulo traffic, made worse by a subway strike finally called off Monday night.
A 4-mile bus ride from its base hotel through the city's perpetually congested streets to the Americans'
training camp was another matter.
''We haven't had any problem," said goalie Tim Howard, "other than the traffic."
Tuesday: Two practices in Sao Paulo;
Wednesday: Public practice in Sao
Thursday: Closed-door scrimmage against Belgium in Sao Paulo;
Friday: Practice in Sao Paulo;
Saturday: Flight to Natal;
Sunday: Practice in Natal;
USA-Ghana in Natal (live at 6 p.m. ET in ESPN and Univision).