[BRAZIL 2014] The USA faces Ghana Monday in their opening game at the 2014 World Cup (live at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN and Univision/Galavision).
USA --Howard, Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley, Beckerman, Jones, Bedoya, Bradley, Dempsey, Altidore.
Ghana --Kwarasey, Opare, Boye, Mensah, Asamoah, Rabiu, Muntari, A.Ayew, J.Ayew, Atsu, Gyan.
FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver's newly launched website at ESPN, has jumped into the World Cup in a big way. He correctly predicted the vote winner of all 50 states in President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection. How does he see USA-Ghana? He has the Americans as slight favorites -- 36-34 percent edge with a 29 percent chance of a draw. But he also has the USA as an underdog against Portugal (40-32) and Germany (66-13) and going out in the first round.
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Paul Kennedy: Ghana, then and now, and the revenge factor
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Swedish Jonas Eriksson became a multi-millionaire after selling his stake in IEC, an international sports rights company with offices in Stockholm, Lausanne, Sydney, Hong Kong and Dubai, for a reported $10 million in 2007.
This is the 40-year-old Eriksson's first World Cup though he has done qualifiers for the 2006, 2010 and 2014 tournaments. He has lots of experience in the UEFA Champions League, having done 19 games in the last three seasons, including Atletico Madrid-Chelsea in 2014.
Weather Report ...
Natal is nicknamed the "City of the Sun," but heavy rains left nine inches of water on the ground and caused heavy flooding. The Arena das Dunas grass appeared to be in decent shape, though, when the USA and Ghana went through their pre-game warmups on Sunday. The weather report for Monday's game -- 7 p.m. kickoff local time -- is temperatures in the high 70s, humidity in the low 80s with a chance of showers.
Natal ("Christmas" in Portuguese) is the capital and largest city of Rio Grande do Norte on the northeastern coast of Brazil. It is now a resort town but is perhaps most famous as a U.S. military supply base during World War II, the "Trampoline to Victory" as President Franklin Roosevelt dubbed it. The base closed in 1947.
Arena das Dunas
The Arena das Dunas is one of three new stadiums built for the World Cup and work went right down to the wire as temporary seats were being installed last week. Built at a cost of $180 million on the site of the former Estadio Machado, it holds 39,958 fans. An estimated 15,000 Mexican fans were on hand for the opening game, El Tri's 1-0 win over Cameroon in the driving rain.
Inside Ghana ...
Former U.S. international Jimmy Conrad and the Kick TV crew went to Ghana to check out the soccer scene ahead of the USA-Ghana. Former MetroStar Joe Addo took them around Accra and he went to visit the Right to Dream Academy that sends young Ghanaians abroad, including to U.S. high schools and colleges.
Goalkeepers:Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/ENG), Tim Howard (Everton/ENG), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
Defenders:DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg/GER), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders).
Midfielders:Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/FRA), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR), Julian Green (Bayern Munich/GER), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas/TUR), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).
Forwards:Jozy Altidore (Sunderland/ENG), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ/NED), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).
Goalkeepers:Fatau Dauda (Orlando Pirates/RSA), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset/NOR), Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars)
Defenders:Samuel Inkoom (Platanias/GRE), Daniel Opare (Porto/POR), Harrison Afful (Esperance/TUN), John Boye (Rennes/FRA), Jonathan Mensah (Evian/FRA), Rashid Sumaila (Mamelodi Sundowns/RSA)
Midfielders:Michael Essien (AC Milan/ITA), Sulley Muntari (AC Milan/ITA), Rabiu Mohammed (Kuban Krasnodar/RUS), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus/ITA), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese/ITA), Afriyie Acquah (Parma/ITA), Christian Atsu (Vitesse/NED), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough), Andre Ayew (Marseille/FRA), Wakaso Mubarak (Rubin Kazan/RUS)
Forwards:Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain/QAT), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke 04/GER), Abdul Majeed Waris (Valenciennes/FRA), Jordan Ayew (Sochaux/FRA).