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Former US stars look back at 2006 Ghana loss

Keller, Conrad admit Americans were wronged by penalty call

With all eyes fixed on the US’ round of 16 match against Ghana on Saturday, we couldn’t help but turn back the clock. Even though it hurt.

MLSsoccer.com asked some of the members of the US team which lost to Ghana 2-1 in a 2006 World Cup group game about Saturday’s redux and the original match, which went sour for the Americans after a controversial penalty kick call against defender Oguchi Onyewu.

D.C. United assistant coach and former USMNT midfielder Ben Olsen:

“It’s one thing to go to a World Cup, but it’s another to actually play in it. That was my chance and I felt that when I did get into the game, I did OK. I performed at a level that I was happy with, at the World Cup. Personally it was a very exciting day for me, but again it was bittersweet because of the loss. Going home early in that Cup was a disappointment to the team, obviously, and the US soccer public.”

Seattle Sounders FC and former US goalkeeper Kasey Keller:

“Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. I’ve played probably 70 games with Claudio Reyna and I never saw him ever get stripped at the top of the box. He gets stripped at the top of the box, the guy comes in on a one-on-one, we’re down 1-0. Then an absolutely horrific call from the German referee before halftime, which was his last game in the World Cup because of it. That gives Ghana a penalty at halftime and we’re down (2-1) in a game where we’re going, ‘how are we down in this game? There’s no reason to be down in this game … When you need those little things to go right, it was like everything was conspiring against you.”

“When it goes wrong, it goes wrong. And unfortunately we had too many things go against us in that Ghana game.”

Chicago Fire and former USMNT forward Brian McBride:

“I’m sure [Ghana’s a] completely different team than before. I think the biggest thing is that it’s an elimination round, and when you’re playing in an elimination round anything can happen so you have that bit of extra excitement. I think there’s a little more tension, you know? Every mistake you make could possibly affect the outcome and it gets you more focused. You get more excited because of the possibilities and you know that it’s one game… This is now all down to, ‘alright let’s win this game, if we win this game we’re on to the next.’ I think it just intensifies the focus of players.”

Kansas City Wizards and former USMNT defender Jimmy Conrad:

“We thought we got wronged a little bit by a referee decision with the penalty kick right before the end of the half. We just never recovered from that setback. So to have a chance to, borrowing an expression from Dumb & Dumber, totally redeem ourselves, is pretty exciting.”

“I think this is a team that will be the most athletic side that we’ve faced so far in the tournament. It will be a challenge for us because our athleticism wins out against a lot of opponents, and I think it will get negated by playing Ghana.”