While grabbing three points against Ghana, the United States will be busy preparing for Portugal, albeit with multiple new faces in the starting lineup.
The 2014 World Cup could not have started much better for the United States. Within the first minute of the game the Yanks were on the board. After a great pass to Jermaine Jones from DeMarcus Beasley on the left side of the pitch, Jones fed the ball to captain Clint Dempey, who was charging towards the 18 yard box. Dempsey cut to the inside of Ghanaian defender John Boye, switching the ball between his left and right foot, drilled a low roller into the corner of the net. It could not have started much better for the men in Red, White, and Blue.
The emotional high did not last long for the U.S., as Jozy Altidore went down to a hamstring pull in the 21st minute. Chasing a ball down the left flank, Altidore attempted to gain possession of the ball, but after a short touch, he pulled up reaching towards his left hamstring. Collapsing to the ground, Altidore had to be removed by stretcher. It was difficult to watch for both player and fan alike as the man who had just seemed to turn the corner after a difficult 2013-1014 season, held his hands to his face, not able to accept his seeminlgy long recovery.
For much of the rest of the first half and even into the second half, the U.S. men went flat. One could debate that the loss of their star forward had took an emotional toll, all on top of the heat and humidity after a week of nonstop rainfall. Ghana took advantage of the flat U.S. team and pressured the defense. Between the likes of the Ayew brothers Jordan and André, Asamoah Gyan, and Kwando Asamoah, the U.S. defense was taking a beating. Things did not get much better for the U.S. defense as Ghana second half substitutes Kevin Prince-Boateng and Michael Essien simply restocked the Black Stars midfield.
The lone bright spot throughout the night for the U.S. defense was Jermaine Jones. He seemed to be unstoppable as he ran from end to end, making a tremendous impact on the game. Michael Bradley, however, had a very quiet night. Bradley did not have too many great opportunities as Ghana smothered him any time the ball was near him.
Something United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have to account for heading into the next match versus Portugal are injuries to three starters. As mentioned above Jozy Altidore will need to be replaced, and possibly the likes of center back Matt Besler and midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. Besler was subbed off for an apparent hamstring issue, and Bedoya seemed to have injured his hip while coming down from a jump ball.
All negative points aside from tonight’s match, the USA was not finished scoring. United States sub, John Brooks, who replaced the injured Besler, supplied the key play of the match. After Ghana midfielder André Ayew had scored in the 82nd minute to tie the game, Brooks wanted nothing of the sort. After receiving a corner, Graham Zusi delivered an excellent ball into the box. After just missing defender Geoff Cameron at the near post, Brooks got a solid piece of the ball, knocking it straight into the back of the net. It was an incredible scene as the 21-year-old, who recently switched his international allegiance to the United States, came through with a game-winner.
The United States will head back to Sao Paulo to prepare for their next task in Portugal. After getting demolished 4-0 against Germany earlier in the day, Portugal will likely come prepared to play as their World Cup hopes are on the line.