By: Mike Cortez | @CortezEra
The stage was set. The United States against Ghana, a team that has sent them home in the last two World Cups. U.S. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann took a huge risk leaving former team captain Landon Donovan off this year’s World Cup roster and a loss to Ghana would not lessen the criticism.
When the whistle finally sounded to start the game America got off to their best start in the World Cup, with new team captain Clint Dempsey scoring the game’s first goal 34 seconds into the match. That was the fastest goal in American World Cup history and good for the fifth fastest goal in the tournament’s history. All signs were pointing up for Klinsmann and company. Then halfway into the first half their luck changed.
They lost their third best player, striker Jozy Altidore to a hamstring injury. The U.S. lost momentum and Ghana started to get its game going. A couple minutes later the captain, Dempsey broke his nose after getting inadvertently kicked in the face. Halftime hit with Ghana still down 1-0. At the start of the second half it was announced that U.S. defender Matt Besler was also not returning to the match with a hamstring.
The red, white and blue had now become the red, white, black and blue. Klinsmann turned to unproven John Brooks. It was all about survival now for the U.S. Ghana controlled the second half, firing shots at US goalie Tim Howard until he finally relented in the 82nd minute of play. It’s 1-1. Ghana has spoiled the US again.
Then in the 86th the US set up for a corner. A good kick from reserve striker Graham Zusi found its way to an unlikely hero. John Brooks. Brooks timed his jump, and scored a magnificent header to give US a 2-1 lead. “I said I had a dream, I told some team-mates that I dreamed that I had scored in the 80th minute and we won the game. Now it [turned out to be] the 86th minute and we won the game, so that was good.”
The win exercised American demons and sets the team up for an important game against the one of the world’s best players Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. A win and they’re in to the next round. Let’s see if Klinsmann and his team have some leftover magic.