USA goalkeeper Tim Howard claims that his side are not motivated by revenge ahead of their World Cup opener against Ghana on Monday night, regardless of how the matchup is being billed.
The USA failed to make it out of the group stage at Germany 2006 after a 2-1 defeat to the Black Stars in their final game, before the same scoreline saw them fall again to their rivals in the last 16 at South Africa 2010.
Howard, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore were the only members of the current squad in the lineup for the latter contest which went to extra-time, while DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Guzan were both unused substitutes on the day.
Dempsey and Beasley also played in the defeat four years earlier, with Howard the backup to first-choice Kasey Keller on that occasion, and the Everton star has maintained that the team have barely discussed the history between the two sides, despite the revenge motif dominating storylines since the draw last December.
‘Not a word’s been spoken. We’ve said that all along that [last defeat] was four years ago,’ he stressed. ‘It’s ancient history really, in the way football is looked at. This is a different team with a different mindset.
‘I want back a lot of things in life but I can’t get them. I think this team is in a good position to face Ghana. There’s no revenge factor, we don’t feel that, that’s not what’s motivating us.’
The US also face Portugal and Germany, along with the African outfit, in what’s widely considered to be one of the tournament’s toughest groups, arriving in Brazil as obvious longshots to progress to the last 16.
With the European powerhouses lying in wait, defeat for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side in their first game would be a potentially devastating blow and Howard says that the players are taking a knockout mindset into the Ghana match as a result.
‘I think it’s important that we have that pressure on us in the first game because we want to win,’ he said. ‘We want to get three points in the bag.
‘Heaven knows what’s going to happen in the other game between Portugal and Germany, so if they draw, we top the group and everyone is happy, but we’ll see.’
Coming off three successive warm-up wins against Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria, Klinsmann’s team seemingly enter the tournament riding a wave of newfound optimism, having moved past the controversial omission of Landon Dononvan, and there appears to be genuine sentiment that they can spring a surprise over the coming weeks.
While revenge over Ghana would certainly be the first step towards that, Monday’s game for the USA players would appear to be less about payback and more about making the most of their best opportunity to gain three valuable points in the supposed 'Group of Death'.