Group G: The U.S. can finally put the ghosts of 2006 and 2010 to bed, with a dramatic late winning goal against the Black Stars.
By Jorge Belon, Editor in Chief
NATAL—Substitute John Brooks exercised the demons of the 2006 and the 2010 World Cup, in the 86th minute, with a header Ghana giving the Yanks the 2-1 victory over the West African nation on Monday night.
Ghana had just broken the hearts of millions of American by tying the game in the 82nd minute. However, all that would change four minutes later, substitute Graham Zusi stepped up to take a corner kick.
The time was running out, and both Ghana and the Bars and Stripes needed a victory on Monday, with teams like Portugal and Germany over the horizon. The American players were exhausted with the humidity over 60 percent and the temperature near 90 degrees.
However, Zusi kept his concentration and sent in a dangerous ball right at the center of the penalty box. Geoff Cameron jumped in the air attempting to make contact, but the ball flew by his head. Brooks though, was at the right spot at the right time, and he perfectly executed the header.
The ball bounced once on the grass before it entered the net to give the U.S. the 2-1 victory at the 86th minute.
“He used his head very well in that set-piece play,” United States goalkeeper Tim Howard told FIFA.com. “He’s a brilliant lad, this is a great opportunity for him and I’m really happy for him.”
The U.S. had the last goal of the game, but they also had the first goal of the game. Captain Clint Dempsey started his scoring account for this World Cup with a brilliant display of footwork.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones gave a quick pass to a cutting Dempsey. The Seattle Sounders FC forward controlled the ball and started his run towards the goal.
He eluded one defender by quickly changing direction from his left to his right with the Black Star defender right in front of him giving the Texas native no space to take a bad touch.
After getting by the defender Dempsey found himself with less than five seconds of being open in the left hand side of the box. The Sounders forward looked up to see where Ghana goalkeeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey had positioned himself.
The former Fulham FC striker then gathered himself and launched a low powerful shot to the bottom right hand corner. The ball would end up hitting the right post and roll into the net to give the Yanks a 1-0 lead, with only 34 seconds in the game.
However, the dream start for the Yanks quickly ended, American leading goal scorer during qualifications Jozy Altidore, was sprinting down the field chasing down a long range pass from midfielder Michael Bradley.
Altidore got a touch on the ball with his head, and then all of sudden he stopped running and grabbed his right hamstring and dropped to the ground like a ton of bricks at the 21st minute. The Sunderland forward would be carried off in a stretcher.
“It hurts a little,” Altidore told Univision’s Contacto Deportivo after the game. “… I don’t know [if I can play in next game]. I hope so. We have to go the hospital tomorrow and we’ll see.”
United States Coach Jurgen Klinsmann was forced to make a substitution, and brought in 23-year-old striker Aron Jóhannsson to replace Altidore. However, the Americans also suffered another injury, center back Matt Besler began to grab his left hamstring right before the half ended.
The 21-year-old Brooks would replace Besler at the start of the second half.
However, after the injury the Yanks attack suffered dramatically as they failed to produce any more shots.
Ghana in the other hand came to life, and began to pressure the U.S. consistently in the second half.
The hustle of Ghana to keep possession of the ball and constantly attempting to make the U.S. backline break would finally pay off in the 82nd minute.
Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan would back heal the ball to a cutting Andre Ayew, the midfielder automatically controlled the ball and took one step and then fired a powerful shot to the left hand corner. The Black Stars finally caught up and made the score 1-1, with eight minutes left to play.
The party would be cut brief for Ghana, when Brooks headed in the goal to win the game 2-1.
“Well first of all, I have to offer my congratulations to the team. We’ve gone through a very difficult game, which we always expected,” Klinsmann told FIFA.com after the game. “We knew it would be a grind and go down to the wire against a very strong Ghana side. But I was still convinced that we would win this game even after Ghana’s equalizer. I had the feeling that another two or three opportunities would come and we just needed to take one, which we did. This was exactly the start we wanted, we had to work hard for it and it’s a great feeling to get the first three points.”
Ghana will need to get a point or a victory in their next match against Germany, or else they will exit the group stages very easily. The match will take place on Saturday, June 21 at the Estadio Castelao.
As for the Americans, they will be looking to get a draw/victory against Portugal. A victory will help them clinch the next round.
To see the highlights of this video click here http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1887620, video provided by ESPN FC.