It wasn’t pretty, it even got bloody, literally, but the United States Men’s Soccer Team found a way to escape Natal with a dramatic 2-1 triumph over Ghana.
After being eliminated by Ghana in the last 2 World Cups, the Americans finally got the best of their African rivals.
With the game hanging in the balance, a pair of late-game substitutes broke through for the United States. A Graham Zusi corner found John Brooks who headed in what proved to be the game winning goal in the 86th minute.
Brooks’s goal was the first by a substitute in US World Cup history, a 30-game stretch that spanned 84 years.
The US could not have asked for a better start. Just 30 seconds in, Clint Dempsey scored to give the Americans an early 1-0 lead. That momentum however, was short lived.
In the 21st minute, Jozy Altidore was forced to leave the game with a strained hamstring and his status for the remainder of the tournament is uncertain. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
Once Altidore went down, Ghana gained momentum and controlled the pace of the game. The US seemed to be playing on their heels.
Like Altidore, Dempsey went down too, but for a different reason. He was kicked in the face while going up for a ball and was left battered and bloody. Dempsey would return and the US went into half-time clinging to a 1-0 lead.
It stayed that way until the 82nd minute when Andre Ayew finally broke through for Ghana to tie the game at 1.
Ayew’s goal appeared to wake the Americans up, and 4 minutes later, they re-took the lead on Brooks’s header.
Up next for the US is Christiano Ronaldo and Portugal on Sunday night. One player the Americans will not have to worry about is Pepe who received a red-card in Portugal’s 4-0 loss to Germany earlier in the day.
Tim Howard was outstanding in net for the US. Although he had just 4 saves, Howard’s leadership and experience was evident when Ghana’s offense was in complete command.