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Jun 16, 2014; Natal, BRAZIL; USA defender John Brooks is mobbed by teammates after scoring a goal in the second half against Ghana during the 2014 World Cup at Estadio das Dunas. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2014 World Cup: United States opens with thrilling win vs Ghana

Amazing. We’ve been waiting six months for this day to come, and when it finally did, it didn’t disappoint.

Clint Dempsey scored 30 second into the match, and John Brooks scored with minutes left in the game as the United States finally defeated Ghana, 2-1 (as I predicted, by the way), in one of the most thrilling, intense, and dramatic games of not only this World Cup, but in the history of US Soccer, giving the US three very big points to open the 2014 World Cup.

Let’s get to it…..

The goals

1′ Dempsey — faster than you were able to sit down with a beer in you hand, Dempsey put the America’s on the board with the quickest goal in US Soccer history, and the fifth fastest goal in World Cup history, working around a couple of defenders in the penalty box, finishing it all of with a lovely left-footed strike to slip past the goalie, off the post, and into the net. Shortly put, nobody saw that goal coming.

82′ Ayew — In a super deflating moment, Andre Ayew equalized with a strike past Tim Howard after working through the US defense, which had been pressured much too often in the second half.

86′ Brooks — My god. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited this goal made me. The circumstances might now have as high, but this goal felt a lot like the Landon Donovan goal from 2010 when he beat Algeria with a goal in the closing minutes. Graham Zuzi, a second half sub coming on for Alejandro Bedoya, delivered a cross into the box that found the head of John Brooks — another second half sub for Matt Besler, who left, presumably, with some issues in his hamstring, too — and he put in the header for a big, big, big goal.

The rest of the game and thoughts

Devastating blow for the US during the second half when Jozy Altidore went down with a hamstring injury. You could tell from the second that we went down grabbing his left hamstring that it wasn’t just a simple tweak. Altidore will get some test done on Tuesday, but I can tell you that hamstrings are a very tricky thing to play around with, and by just guessing, I don’t think that we’ll be seeing him in the lineup against Portugal this Sunday.

Aron Johannsson took over up front, but not having Altidore in the game, it took away the US’s ability to give somebody the ball up top and create chances. The US was really riding a lot of the fact that the needed Altidore to come into Brazil and have a big World Cup, but now without him the US will have a problem in trying to replace him — and by the way, no, they can’t bring in Donovan.

Not to mention, Besler looked to do something in his hamstring. He has been a rock in the middle of the US backline, and it wouldn’t help at all if he has to miss any games.

After Dempsey’s goal in the 1st minute, the US lacked any form of an attack. They didn’t look very sharp, and Michael Bradley in particular, was not on his game today. The US will need him to regain form as they continue to march through the group stage, and possibly into the knockout round.

Dempsey was kicked in the face not long after Altidore was taken off — not intentionally, though. He was bleeding on the field, and I wouldn’t doubt if he broke his nose on the play, with Dempsey did say after the game that is what it felt like. After that injury, it seemed like he was a lot less involved, and less of a factor moving forward.

The US was lucky to only have conceded one goal in this game the way that Ghana was attacking and holding the ball in the second half. Portugal looked, well, not good against Germany today, but they will be a lot tougher to defend than Ghana, and things could get ugly if they struggle to hold the ball again on Sunday.

It was a very sloppy win, and things can only get better from here on out, but what really matters is the fact that the US pulled out of this with three points — three much needed points. This was just the second time that the US opened up a World Cup with a win since 1990. The last time the did it, when the defeated Portugal in 2002, and made it all the way to the quarter-finals that year.

 

Tags: US Men's National Team US Soccer USMNT World Cup

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