U.S. Squeaked by Ghana, Avenges Previous World Cup Losses
By Vincent Paul Hidalgo | June 17, 2014 12:54 PM EST
While most Americans were busy browsing several online sites offering live streaming of the game, Ghana fans were worried about the unstable electricity supply so they can get a glimpse of the match.
U.S. soccer fans celebrate at the end of the 2014 World Cup soccer match between U.S. and Ghana, which was broadcast on a large screen at Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro, June 16, 2014.
The game provided a level playing field from both U.S. and Ghana. But in the end, Jurgen Klinsmann's squad won by a solitary goal over Ghana, 2-1. The controversial mentor was all but high praises for his team singling out its fighting spirit all throughout 90 minutes of competitive action.
"We fight to the last second," Klinsmann said. "It was a grind but a wonderful win at the end of the day. There are undoubtedly things that we need to improve on. The U.S. team always has a great spirit."
The U.S. was roaring to avenge the team after the Black Stars eliminated the Americans from two consecutive World Cups. Clint Dempsey provided the early lead for the U.S. when he scored a goal a half minute into the game. The Americans could not build on the lead and a back and forth of attempts proved futile for both teams up until the 82nd mark when Andre Ayew scored on an exceptional back-hell pass from Asamoah Gyan.
The crowd was expecting a draw but the unexpected occurred. Bench Player John Brooks broke the hearts of Ghana rising to head a corner kick of Graham Zusi providing the final goal of the match and the win for his team.
He was the first substitute to ever score for the U.S. in over 84 years. The 20-year-old a late addition to the squad in August of the previous year was shocked at his own goal that he laid motionless on the field after teammates piled over him in jubilant celebration.
"It's what we expected," U.S. coach Klinsmann said. "We got the three points that we wanted and we can move on."
ESPN.com reported the Americans were overwhelmed with joy at the final buzzer but the win was not without casualty. Forward Jozy Altidore was helped off the field minutes before the half when he succumbed to the ground appearing to clutch his left hamstring when he tried to chase a long ball. His status is still to be determined as he awaits further tests.
Dempsey also went down on a bloody nose as a result of an inadvertent kick to the face by John Boye's after battling for a header in the 31st minute. The U.S. captain was visibly struggling for breath for the second but was able to stay and finish the game.
Dempsey's goal in 32 seconds into the match was also the fastest ever scored by an American in the tournament. The early win and the final Brooks goal tied the U.S. with Germany, which prevailed over Portugal in the earlier game, atop Group G.
"It was a dream come true," Dempsey said. "We showed a lot of character. We have to do a better job at keeping possession and building out of the back. We have to stay sharp on set pieces. This win will give us confidence going into the next game. The boys showed a lot of heart. Our fitness showed."
Dempsey' goal made him the first U.S. player to score in three different World Cups. Despite the early lead, the Americans struggled to mount a comfortable lead. Goalkeeper Tim Howard relayed he was concerned the team would have trouble keeping momentum after Dempsey's early goal.
"That game went just as planned," he said. "We took our chances well. Natural tendency when you score is to drop off, but we defended well."
Howard also voiced his concerns for Altidore, a key cog in the American's plans.
"You wonder what's going to happen after Jozy pulls up, but Aron filled that role well," he said. "That is why we built a team and built a squad. I thought Aron did fantastic."
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