Apparently the third time was the charm as the U.S. National Team defeated Ghana by the final score of 2-1 in their opening match of the 2014 World Cup. The last two meetings between the two nations saw the Ghanaians defeat the the U.S. squad, but today was a different story.
The game got off to a great start for the U.S. National Team as Clint Dempsey scored less than a minute into the match after a great combination play with DeMarcus Beasley and Jermaine Jones. After receiving the ball Dempsey had a great first touch into the box, beat a defender, then fired a perfect shot with his left foot to the far corner to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. The goal, which was scored 29 seconds into the game, was the fifth fastest goal to start a match in World Cup history.
Following the goal the United States began to slow down offensively while the ‘Black Stars’ — so called because of the single black star on their flag — picked things up.
Then, in a stroke of bad luck for the U.S., Jozy Altidore pulled up grabbing his hamstring while chasing down a ball on the wing and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. He did get a high quality chance before he left the game, but without him the American side struggled for the rest of the game.
The Icelandic-American striker Aron Johannsson came in for Altidore in the 23′ minute, but he would have little effect on the rest of the game.
In the 32′ the U.S. National Team’s goal-scorer, Dempsey, suffered a bloody nose after a wild challenge on a 50/50 ball, and afterward he did not look happy. He would stay in the game though.
Injuries would continue to hamper the U.S. side and coming out of halftime center back Matt Besler would have to stay off the field after he too was grabbing his hamstring late in the first half.
His replacement, John Brooks, looked shaky early but would eventually find the flow of the game and finish strongly. While the inclusion of the young defender on the national team was a controversial one, the substitution proved to be a stroke of genius in the end.
By the 78′ minute Ghana had used all of its substitutions for offensive purposes and that is when they really began to pour it on. Yes, they held a majority of the game’s possession (60% to 40% in favor of the ‘Black Stars’) but for the most part things were held to long-range shots against keeper Tim Howard, with a few exceptions.
Finally, in the 82′ Andre Ayew scored for Ghana after receiving a beautiful one-time pass from Asamoah Gyan. Ayew finished strong with the outside of his left foot leaving Time Howard guessing incorrectly. The goal looked to be a huge blow for the American side which was desperately trying to hang on for dear life to the one-nil lead.
But, in poetic justice, substitute John Brooks would score the game-winner in the 86′ minute off of a corner kick that had first glanced off of Dempsey. Brooks got plenty of the ball and headed it low, hard and past the goalkeeper for a stunner that had an estimated 20,000 American fans erupting at the Estadio Das Dunas. What a time to score his first ever national team goal.
The win for the U.S. National Team is a huge one to say the least, because it means they are sitting pretty in second place within the ‘Group of Death’ (Group H). They still have Germany and Portugal to play, but a great start is all they could ask for. They’ll have to tighten things up though for their second game on Sunday against an angry Portuguese squad that was embarrassed earlier today by Germany 4-0.
Man of the Match
By far the best player for the U.S. Men’s National Team was Jones, who was always in the right spot defensively. Whether he was helping out the back line or supporting his other midfielders, he was the ultimate team player this evening. He was also the catalyst in the U.S. National Team’s first goal of the game.
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