KRIS LINDSAY - Tuesday, June 17, 2014
The United States took a giant leap forward in advancing out of the Group of Death, defeating Ghana 2-1 Monday night in Natal, Brazil.
Captain Clint Dempsey opened up the scoring for the Americans in the first minute of play, but it was German-American John Anthony Brooks that saved the day in the 86th minute, notching the winner for the USA in dramatic fashion.
USA fullback DeMarcus Beasley inbounded the ball to Jermaine Jones just after kickoff, who skipped the ball forward to Dempsey. The forward moved the ball past the Ghanian defender with a couple of very technical dribbles, and blasted a rocket off the inside of the far post, moving the Americans in front just 34 seconds into the game.
The US suffered a scare in the 26th minute, when striker Jozy Altidore pulled up lame, clutching his hamstring. The powerful forward had to be replaced by Aron Johannsson, who played out he remainder of the match.
The injury bug bit again as the game approached halftime, but this time it plagued defender Matt Besler. Besler appeared to be reaching for his hamstring also, and left during the break to be replaced by Hertha Berlin defender John Brooks.
The USA were under fire for the majority of the game, and conceded possession for most of the night, content with defending. The Black Stars finally equalized in what appeared to be the final goal of the match in the 82nd minute. Andre Ayew received a great no look pass, and finished near post past Howard, who could do nothing about it.
A point for each team loomed large, which may have resulted in an early exit for the Americans this World Cup, who most predicted needed the three points in order to have any hope of advancing.
The shock result came in the 86th minute, when a cross from substitute Graham Zusi found Brooks in the middle of the box. Brooks' header bounced past the keeper and into the net, securing the vital three points.
Portugal looms for the United States on Sunday, who fell 4-0 to Germany early in the day.