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World Cup: US loses tight match to Ghana 2-1

Team USA puts up spirited fight but is knocked out by Ghana's Black Stars.

In a World Cup that has produced more than its share of uninspiring performances, the U.S.’ spirited display against England, suspenseful comeback against Slovenia and thrilling victory over Algeria captured the attention of discerning soccer fans.

Daryl Stephens of Johannesburg said that he became familiar with the U.S. team during last year’s Confederations Cup, which took place in South Africa and where the Americans reached the final. He added that he has followed American players who ply their trade in the English Premier League, including Everton’s Tim Howard and Fulham’s Dempsey.

Wearing a South African jersey on his shoulders and a U.S. flag on his head, the 32-year-old made clear that he supports his country first, but with Bafana Bafana out of their own World Cup his new favorite is Team U.S.A. The team’s “never-say-die” attitude convinced him and many of his compatriots to root for the U.S., he said.

“In terms of team spirit, they’re right up there,” Stephens said.

Punky Moremi, a smiling 50-year-old Pretoria resident, said she saw the U.S.’ previous matches and believed the team was more than ready for the big stage.

“I think the U.S.A. is the one team that is going to take the Cup,” she said. “They have better strikers.”

The Americans’ success has also been good for business. Nesbert Zhou, a 25-year-old Joburg resident who traveled to Rustenburg with two of his friends to sell flags to fans outside the stadium said he likes Americans because they’re patriotic and “they are nice to everybody.”

Zhou said the Americans are his favorite team along with Brazil, Argentina and Portugal. He said he had been watching the performances of both the U.S. and the Black Stars carefully and decided not to bother bringing Ghanaian flags. He had no doubt he’d sell out before kickoff.

“As you can see I’m selling only the American flag because I have the confidence that the Americans will win the game,” he said. “Today they are going to win it’s obvious.”

Not everyone present at the stadium shared Zhou’s conviction about the outcome.

Sporting the Black Stars’ jersey and a Ghana scarf, Justin Addo made no secret of his allegiance. The 39-year-old said he had been impressed by the Americans’ progress over the past four years but predicted they’d be outplayed by what he deemed a technically superior Ghana.

“They’ve done well to come this far,” Addo said of the U.S. squad, “but it ends here.”