The United States stressed how important there World Cup opener was against Ghana. The African nation had sent the United States home at the last two World Cups and it was an opportunity to exorcise some demons.
At the same time the Americans and Ghana are in the group of death with European heavyweights Germany and Portugal. The Americans came into the game knowing they couldn’t rely on beating both Portugal and Germany, and that a win against Ghana was a must to have a shot at advancing out of the group stage.
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a better start then they did for the Americans. In the very first minute of the game, captain Clint Dempsey put the Americans up by a goal. A beautiful first touch pass from Jermaine Jones got the ball to Dempsey in stride, who took it into the box and made a defender miss.
Once he got past the defender he took a kick with his left foot going to the opposite post and the ball ricocheted in for the goal. Just like that the Americans were in the driver’s seat.
Unofficially the goal came in 32 seconds. It also made Dempsey the first American to score in three different World Cups.
But as quickly as things took a positive upturn for the United States, things took a turn for the worse. In the 23rd minute, USMNT center forward Jozy Altidore pulled up during a run and grabbed his hamstring, hitting the ground quickly. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann moved quickly bringing Altidore out of the game and subbing on Aron Johannsson.
It was later announced that Altidore’s injury was a strained hamstring.
That wasn’t the only knock for the Americans in the first half. In the 33rd minute, Dempsey took a kick to the face that left him bloodied and on the ground as well. You could see Dempsey laying on the ground checking his nose on the broadcast, but it wasn’t enough to force him out of the game.
The momentum for the rest of the game pretty much remained with Ghana, who dominated possession and out shot the United States. it looked like the Americans were content to sit back and play defense and try to cling onto the win after players began dealing with injuries.
There was some brief moments were the United States created some opportunities and looked like they;d have an opportunity to get an insurance goal.
In the 82nd minute, the United States rash of bad luck finally came full circle. With the Ghana attack coming relentlessly, one of the waves of Ghana attacks finally produced a goal. The Ghanian attack came into the box and Asamoah Gyan got the ball in the zone, but took a one-touch back-heel pass that found André Ayew cutting into the box.
He then went to the near post getting the ball past American goalkeeper Tim Howard. In the slow motion replay you can see Howard go to his left at first only to try and correct his course to go back to his right to block the shot.
The shot really seemed to change the momentum of the game, that was already going against the Americans. The USMNT were trying to hold on to a win with a defensive effort, now they looked poised to spend the final minutes of the game trying to hold onto a single point from a draw.
The Americans got a corner kick and the set piece provided the spark the Americans needed to get back into the lead late in the game after all the adversity they faced. On a corner kick from Graham Zusi, defender John Brooks got up and put his head on the ball, sending it down towards the pitch.
Ghana goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey expected the ball to go high and wasn’t prepared for it to go low. It was an emotional goal after an emotional game that saw the Americans go on a roller coaster of emotions.
After that the Americans were once again stalling try to hold onto the three points they had just got back. They were able to do so and moved into second place in the Group G table.
Their next game comes against Portugal, who lost 4-0 to Germany on Monday.