CBS Sports – A little known sub, possibly the least likely man to score for the US, may have changed the team’s fortunes this World Cup.
John Brooks was thrust into the backline after Matt Besler went down with a hamstring injury and his 86th-minute goal gave the US a decisive 2-1 lead that it wouldn’t give up. Off a Graham Zusi corner, Brooks rose up and pounded the ball into the ground and it one-hopped into the net past Ghana’s keeper.
“We have a great spirit. The US team always has a great spirit and fights until the last second. It was a little bit of a shock that Jozy got injured. It was a grind, but a wonderful win at the end of the day,” Klinsmann said following the stunning victory.
Brooks’ goal came just four minutes after Ghana had tied it up, and it appeared that this Group G thriller was headed for a draw. But despite relentless pressure from Ghana’s wingers, the US managed to fend off a ceaseless attack and work the ball up for the game-changing (hell, World Cup changing, if you’re America) corner.
The US avenged its 2006 and 2010 losses to Ghana on Monday evening with a heart-pounding victory that may have shifted Group G’s fortunes as well, especially after Germany’s thrashing of Portugal earlier on Monday.
Clint Dempsey got the US on the board a mere :32 seconds into Monday’s match, but for the next seventy-odd minutes, it was all Ghana. Tim Howard was outstanding, as was center back Geoff Cameron. The defense, which came into the World Cup with so many doubts, stood stall even as exhaustion and injuries took their toll.
Tireless midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones each showed exemplary hustle, trekking back often to help boost the US’s inexperienced backline. Both played a physicial style that was absolutely necessary against Ghana, which was eager to go cleat-up a bit too often.
The lasting image from this game will be Brooks’ header, but Dempsey stayed in even after taking a foot to the face. With the win, he’ll take a possible broken nose.
Besler left the game at halftime, but the bigger injury and cause for concern moving forward has to be Jozy Altidore, who pulled his hamstring chasing down a pass from Michael Bradley. For now, injury concerns aren’t on the minds of the US team, though, as it can revel in a wonderful, tone-setting victory.