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Usually I only introduce you to Uruguayans, but there’s an American we all need to officially meet today—John Brooks. If you were watching the USMNT’s opening group stage matchup against Ghana, you saw why we should call Brooks a hero. The 21-year old defender, who was appearing in only his fifth cap, ended up scoring the game winner in the United States’ humongous triumph on Tuesday night (get the full report from Captain Hatch here). So where did this guy come from? Let’s find out.

Brooks is the son of an American serviceman from Chicago, and was actually born and raised Berlin, Germany. He came up in fútbol within the youth system of Hertha BSC of the Bundesliga, and made his professional debut with their reserve team, Hertha BSC II in 2011. He didn’t make his Bundesliga debut August 10th, 2013, but he made the best of it, scoring a goal in his first game against Eintracht Frankfurt. In all, he has played 35 games for Hertha BSC, scoring 3 goals as a defender.

At the same time, he was participating internationally with both the United States and Germany (he has dual citizenship), working out in camps for both American U-20 and U-23 teams and the German U-20 squad. When it came time to choose a side to represent internationally, however, Brooks says the choice was not a hard one. “The U.S. really wanted me, so it was not a hard decision to play for the USA.”a

As easy as the choice was for Brooks, it was not a widely accepted one by USMNT fans. First of all, like I mentioned earlier, he’s only 21 years old, and only had four international games under his belt before the World Cup began. He was also one of the last men selected for the team, and his selection upset a lot of people who felt that coach Jurgen Klinsmann should have selected the more experienced Clarence Goodson instead. Klinsmann stuck to his guns and selected the 6’4″ defender anyway, and that paid off big time.

As expected, Brooks started the Ghana game on the bench. The unforeseen part of this story was the injury to starting defender Matt Besler. Besler couldn’t make it out for the second half, and so Brooks was thrown directly into the fire. He made a turnover early in the half, but settled down nicely after that. He ended up 2/2 on tackles, 7/7 on clearances, 9/10 on passes and threw in 2 interceptions and 2 blocks to boot. The real highlight, of course, was the game winner. In the 87th minute, he set up in the middle of the box and waited for the perfect corner kick cross from Graham Zusi. When the ball came in, Brooks hammered it downward and into the net past a diving Adam Kwarasey for the lead.

It was as if he couldn’t believe what had just happened. To think that an inexperienced kid thrust into the biggest game of his life would score the game winner and rescue his team from a pounding they’d been receiving for the better par of 90 minutes? Just… wow. Congratulations, John. You have arrived.

Check out the goal below:

John Brooks

Featured image courtesy of: (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.

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