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Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Updated: June 24, 7:09 AM ET
Can the U.S. keep winning?

By Leander Schaerlaeckens
ESPN.com

First there was good news for the U.S. when it beat Algeria on a last-gasp winner, not only avoiding elimination but also winning Group C. Then there was even better news when it learned it would avoid Germany in the round of 16.

Over in Group D, Germany's 1-0 win over Ghana saw both teams through, knocking out Australia and Serbia.

Here's what's coming next:

U.S. vs. Ghana

The U.S. will face a highly skilled, quick and explosive team in Ghana in the next round. While this is certainly an opponent the U.S. will appreciate playing -- and you could argue that the Americans have a pretty nice draw right now -- Ghana is not to be taken lightly. Ghana is the type of physical team the U.S. has struggled with in the tournament.

Although a mostly young team, Ghana is a patient and well-organized side that doesn't get distracted from its game plan and sets up a sturdy line in midfield, run by the hard-nosed Anthony Annan. Ghana also has a decent back line and a strong right winger in Kevin Prince Boateng. Will Boateng challenge the U.S.'s left side of defense more than Algeria did?

Food for thought: If the U.S. gets past Ghana, the draw could open up even more. The Americans would face the winner of Uruguay-South Korea in the quarterfinals -- a dream matchup for the U.S.

Germany vs. England

This game will feature Germany, a fluid, quick, attacking team, against England, the more calculated, stodgy side looking to score on a breakaway and hold the lead.

Freed from Michael Ballack's slowing down of the game, Germany has reinvented itself as a fast and fairly explosive team. England, on the other hand, has labored through games as star striker Wayne Rooney has looked tired and out of sorts.

Despite its relative inexperience and lack of star power -- two categories in which England easily overmatches the Germans -- Germany has to be considered the favorite.

If the Germans can play at their own breakneck pace, further frustrate Rooney by keeping him off the ball and force Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard to play close together by keeping the field small on defense, this game should be the Germans for the taking.

Food for thought: In their last competitive game, a World Cup qualifier in September 2001, Germany was clobbered by England at home by a score of 5-1. The two have faced each other in the World Cup four times, with England winning the 1966 final, Germany winning a game in 1970 and games in 1982 and 1990 ending in ties.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at leander.espn@gmail.com.