Finally, the United States men’s soccer team beat their nemesis Ghana in the World Cup.
It took 33 seconds for Clint Dempsey to open the scoring to establish control of the U.S. squad after Landon Donovan was left off and a dramatic game-winning header by John Anthony Brooks in the 86th minute to vindicate U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who selected the young Bundesliga player with an American father and a German mother, despite his struggles early in the year.
In so doing, Klinsmann did what former coaches Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena could not — defeat the dangerous Ghana squad that had eliminated the Americans in the last two World Cups. The United States secured a crucial three points in what is known as the “Group of Death” with Germany and Portugal in addition to Ghana.
After Dempsey’s goal, a gruesome and agonizing injury to star forward Jozy Altidore forced him to be carried off on a stretcher. Then Dempsey, the Texan who grew up in a trailer park while embracing the South American style of play, got kicked in the face and was down on the field for several minutes as blood came pouring out of his nose, which may be broken. The United States looked rattled after that and its defense kept bending but not breaking — until André Ayew’s equalizer in the 82nd minute.
Four minutes later, lighting struck for the United States on a set play as Brooks hammered home a corner kick, becoming the first American substitute to ever score in the World Cup.
The United States plays Portugal next in the Amazon jungle of Manaus on Sunday, and both teams could look like MASH units in a game that could well decide who makes it out of the group. Altidore’s status is questionable and so is Matt Besler’s. Besler was substituted for at halftime to risk injury. Portugal will play the Americans without Pepe, who is suspended due to a red card he received against Germany, and defenseman Fabio Coentrao, who came up lame.
It was the first time the United States won a World Cup opener since its 3-2 victory over Luis Figo’s Portugal in 2002 in South Korea.
Clint Dempsey opens the scoring.
Jozy Altidore gets carried off the field.
Clint Dempsey gets kicked in the face.
A pensive Jurgen Klinsmann looks on as the United States hangs on against the Black Stars.