United States beats Ghana with late goal in World Cup opener

  • Article by: SAM BORDEN , New York Times
  • Updated: June 17, 2014 - 7:29 AM

The Americans still have matches yet to play against Portugal and Germany, but any hope of advancing in the World Cup was based on a positive result against Ghana.

– It began with the magical. It ended with the miraculous.

John Brooks, a 21-year-old German-American who was playing in his first competitive game for the United States and who was on the field only because a starting fullback was hurt, powered a fierce header into the net in the 86th minute Monday to give the U.S. team a 2-1 victory over Ghana in its first match of the tournament.

Afterward, Brooks said that he dreamed nearly the exact situation two nights ago, the only difference being that, in his imagination, he scored in the 80th minute.

“It was my first dream,” he said softly, “hopefully not my last.”

Brooks’ header was the dramatic coda to an evening that opened with exuberance from the Americans after Clint Dempsey scored inside 30 seconds. That was followed by about 80 minutes of nervy, anxious nail-biting as two key U.S. players were lost to injury and the Ghanaians pounded at the United States goal. Then came a few moments of disappointment after Ghana tied the score. And, finally, there was Brooks, rising to meet Graham Zusi’s corner kick.

The Americans still have matches yet to play against Portugal and Germany, but any hope of advancement was predicated on a positive result here. And the United States got one.

“The response after they scored was really good,” midfielder Michael Bradley said. “You looked around and still felt like there was more in it.”

When it was over, coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who had not hesitated to liken this game to a final in terms of its importance, ran onto the field, a smile wide across his face. The Ghana players, aware of how critical three points were, sank to the ground in disbelief.

“The feelings are just incredible,” U.S. defender Matt Besler said.

It was that way from the start. Just moments after the game kicked off, Dempsey, the U.S. captain, saw a pass come his way and let it run, stepping over the ball with his foot before tapping it forward with the inside of his right heel. It was a stylish move, a little bit of class. The ball now in front of him, Dempsey bore in on goal.

One Ghana player ran across him. Then another. Dempsey cut to the inside and, with a quick finish, suddenly stroked the ball past the goalkeeper and in off the inside of the far post as Klinsmann and the entire U.S. bench erupted.

Only 29 seconds had ticked off the clock, making it the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history.

But most of the rest of the game was maddening for the Americans as Ghana bossed the ball around the field.

Frustration turned to sadness, too, when top striker Jozy Altidore was taken off on a stretcher because of an apparent hamstring injury, his remaining World Cup participation now in doubt.

“I was crushed,” Altidore said. “I knew right away I couldn’t continue. It was the worst feeling.”

Things did not improve as the minutes passed. The Ghanaians, who eliminated the United States in each of the past two World Cups, hammered on the Americans. Kyle Beckerman was floored by an elbow to the head from Mohammed Rabiu (who was cautioned). Dempsey went down, blood pouring from his nose, after taking a shin to the face from John Boye (who was not).

Dempsey played the rest of the game despite struggling to breathe through his nose, saying afterward that he was “coughing up blood a little bit.”

Alejandro Bedoya also looked bothered by a leg injury and so, too, did Besler, one of the two starting central defenders. With Ghana controlling possession and pushing, Klinsmann did not want to risk a gimpy defense; he pulled Besler at halftime as a precaution but did not insert veteran Omar Gonzalez. Instead, he opted for Brooks, one of several dual-national players Klinsmann has recruited.

  • related content

  • BOXSCORE: USA 2, Ghana 1

    Tuesday June 17, 2014

  • SoccerCentric: I believe that we will win

    Monday June 16, 2014

    The USA scored in the first minute, held on for 81, and then - when all seemed lost - rescued the victory they absolutely had to have.

  • Live Blog replay: USA 2, Ghana 1

    Tuesday May 20, 2014

    The USA scored with about 10 minutes to play on a header by reserve John Brooks, capping off its 2-1 victory over Ghana.

  • United States' John Brooks reacts after scoring his side's second goal...

  • world cup UNITED STATES 2, GHANA 1

    Up next: 5 p.m. Sunday vs. Portugal • Arena Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil • TV: ESPN

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 8 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
UCF 45 FINAL
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
UMBC 39 FINAL
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
NJIT 71
TCU 70 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
USC 74 FINAL
UCLA 85
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
UNLV 58
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close