I’m going to start off the same way ESPN did, with the most American intro ever. Guitar riffs, Kiefer Sutherland. a couple of random Marines, and a death threat. Now that I’ve got that out of my system…
Wait, I’m about 30 seconds in. That’s about the amount of time it took for Clint Dempsey to find the back of the net like this:
It made the inside of my head react like this.
This article is going to be exactly the same as the game from this point on. You’re going to have to wait through tons of useless crap that you’re disappointed in until the very end. How to even rate this game? In my heart, this was a beautiful victory that showed the guts and determination of a gritty US squad that realizes points on the board are all that matters. In my head, this was a game where we were lucky to be playing against a team whose finishing was just as bad as our passing.
This was a game about whose screw ups could be the least dangerous. Ghana maintained an overwhelming dominance in possession but couldn’t find the right crosses to their strikers waiting in the box. The US couldn’t string together a group of passes with any positive outcome. Ghana kept hammering away, over and over. In the second half their pressure increased, and after some very close chances, finally hit a beauty home in the 82nd minute. Asamoah Gyan sent a cute little back heel to Andre Ayew, who dribbled once as three defenders jumped at him, and hit it near post. Howard was set up for far post and was caught wrong-footed.
Just as the shock of that goal was beginning to set in, Fabian Johnson made a run up the right flank. This run itself was nothing major, but since he was up the field, he took a throw-in. After the throw-in, from a give and go with Aron Johansson, he chased a ball to the touchline and fought for possession with Ghanaian defender Jonathan Mensah. Mensah clumsily touched the ball on the way out, creating the corner kick that John Brooks buried for the game winner. All credit to Graham Zusi‘s kick from the corner and Brooks getting up for the header (both of them were second half substitutes), but without Fabian’s determination it never would have happened.
30 Seconds – As mentioned before, Dempsey scored the fifth fastest goal in the history of the World Cup (here’s a full list for you those of you who are curious). Off of a throw-in, he set up with a nice little stepover, cut inside on the first defender, moved to his left to clear space from the second, and shot back post off his left foot. Beautiful, wonderful goal. You could feel as if the voices of a million Ghanaians cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. Later in the game, he also took a kick to the nose. Bleeding, battered, he got up and finished out the match with one shot on target, which (other than the winner) was the only shot by the US in the second half.
Dreadlocks – Kyle Beckerman had a fantastic game playing in the position of holding midfielder. In his natural role, he was extremely solid when everything in front of him broke down. Jermaine Jones probably performed the strongest of all the Americans. He was a complete nuisance to the Ghanaian midfield, and showed creativity in trying to get the ball through to the forwards. The best game I’ve seen him play.
Timmah – Tim Howard was his usual solid, awesome self in goal. Great saves and positive clearances.
The Brookie – John Brooks. 5th cap for the national team. The first goal in world cup history scored by a US substitute. Right place, right time, but way to step up. Also, about a minute later, he blocked a Michael Essien header that surely would have tied the game. (Check out Jobu’s post for more about Brooks.)
The Fans – 20,000 fans were in the stadium. That’s amazing. I also keep seeing videos of fan groups here in the States just going crazy. It’s good to see the support for not only the team, but the sport in general.
Jesse Pinkman – Michael Bradley had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. His passes in the first half were too heavy. His passes in the second half were too soft. His passes that were the right weight were off the mark. I’m generalizing, but you just got the sense that his shiny head wasn’t in the game. At the end, in the “send it to the corner” time-wasting portion of our evening, he broke free on the right side and inexplicably sent a poor cross to the goalkeeper. There weren’t many US players that were passing better, but he’s normally a stalwart in that area. He’ll need to pick it up or his turnovers will create too many chances for future group opponents Portugal and Germany.
Injuries – Three players (Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler, and Alejandro Bedoya) left the game due to injury. Jozy left on a stretcher with an apparent hamstring injury and his World Cup future in doubt. We’re yet to hear the official status on all of them. Jozy would be a huge loss up top, especially as he was showing that he may have his old striker’s form back, but the other two are central defenders in a defense that looked confused at times, and frenetic at others tonight.
Alexi Lalas – Such a homer. “That was wonderful game”? Come on. Just…dude. He did say one thing accurately though…
“That was American.”
Featured image courtesy of: NBC Nightly News
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