On to the knockout rounds.
No more of these draws, no more figuring out group standings. From now on at the 2010 World Cup, it's win or be gone.
On Saturday, the United States faces Ghana (2:30 p.m. at Rustenburg), and the Americans know all about being knocked out by the Africans. Ghana eliminated the U.S. four years ago in the final game of the group stage while advancing itself.
"I've been impressed with them," U.S. star midfielder Landon Donovan said. "I thought they'd struggle a little bit without (midfielder Michael) Essien, but I thought they've looked very good. They're going to be a very difficult team to play against. Their athleticism will be difficult to deal with."
Ghana has been the rare successful African team at this first World Cup staged on the continent, advancing behind Germany from Group D. But it also has only two goals, both scored on penalty kicks by Asamoah Gyan.
"It's a fact that we haven't scored from open play, but it does not mean that we can't play," midfielder Sulley Muntari said. "We will continue working hard on it."
The Americans are accustomed to having the majority of fans at their games rooting for the other side. That's a given for this match.
"We want to do it for Africa," said Muntari, who added his team is seeking at least a semifinals berth. "We want to break records."
Donovan expects a partisan crowd. Other than that, who knows?
"My guess is that they'll have quite a bit of support," he said. "Like a lot of African teams, they're fairly unpredictable sometimes, which can be a plus or a minus."
The United States has alternated between plus and minus in the last 20 years. The Americans went out early at soccer's premier event in 1990, 1998 and 2006, but advanced in 1994, 2002 and now.
One key for the Americans may be to avoid falling behind. They never have won a World Cup game in which they trailed, and they needed comebacks to draw with England and Slovenia in the opening round.
Donovan's winner against Algeria, which will go down among the most memorable goals in U.S. history, came just a couple of minutes from the final whistle. Now, if games are tied at the end, 30 minutes of extra time (not sudden death) ensues, followed by a penalty kick shootout of nothing has been decided.
"I wish we could understand it better, but for whatever reason we seem to grow in strength and confidence as the game goes on," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "Now I've just got to figure out and make sure we don't concede early."
Uruguay, winner of Group A, plays South Korea, runner-up in Group B (10 a.m. at Port Elizabeth) in the other second-round match.
Uruguay has not allowed a goal and has scored four. South American teams have prospered in this tournament, and the Uruguayans, who needed to win a playoff against Costa Rica to qualify, have looked solid and versatile.
"We watched a few of Uruguay's games, they have quality and they are strong and their performances were great in the group stages," South Korea midfielder Park Ji-sung said. "We have to prepare well."Comment on this story
Uruguay has four wins and a draw against South Korea, including a 1-0 victory in the 1990 World Cup when Daniel Fonseca scored in the 90th minute to put the South Americans into the round of 16. In their eighth trip to the tournament, the South Koreans advanced for the second time — and the first outside of their borders. In 2002, they made the semifinals at home.
"Our goal was to reach the last 16," Park added. "It really is fantastic to write a new chapter in the history of Korean football. We succeeded in doing this for the first time away from home."
Since winning the 1930 and 1950 World Cups, Uruguay has not been a contender.s