In three World Cup games, the United States had yet to manage a win over Ghana. When it came to talking odds about Monday’s match, the U.S. was a +185 underdog with just a 20.7 percent chance of winning*. Ghana wasn’t going to roll over and hand America a victory; the U.S. was going to have to earn it.
34 seconds into the game American captain Clint Dempsey scored one of the fastest goals in World Cup history. This marked the earliest lead that the U.S. had ever had in a World Cup match, and would allow them to keep the lead for the entirety of the first half—but not without some intense pressure from Ghana.
32 minutes into the game, Howard makes a great save on a well-placed shot by Gyan, but this just solidifies that Ghana is going to be every bit the challenge that they were expected to be. At the 38’ mark, Ghana had maintained possession 62 percent of the time to America’s 38 percent. Asamoah Gyan was a palpable threat to the lead that the U.S. was struggling to hold on to. The Ghana captain and his team were applying an intense amount of heat on De Marcus Beasley, Geoff Cameron, and Matt Besler.
At halftime, a Ghana goal in the second half seemed inevitable. Jozy Altidore was out with a hamstring injury at the 27’ mark, Dempsey was sporting a broken nose at the 33’ mark, and Matt Besler was struggling with his own hamstring injury. Fortunately, America’s roster was well fortified this year (and included Chris Wondolowski and Nick Rimando, who both call California home).
Post-halftime, Jurgen Klinsmann used one of his remaining substitutions to help preserve the welfare of Besler’s hamstring (and the integrity of the American’s defense). Centerback Jonathan Brooks (whose position on the team was considered a bit controversial) was called in to help solidify the back line.
Tim Howard had his work cut out for him blocking shots from Muntari and Gyan, and Ghana again dominated possession of the ball in the second half. The American’s defense was quickly becoming overwhelmed, and in an attempt to bring some fresh blood into the game, Grahm Zusi is subbed in for Alejandro Bedoya at the 77’ mark.
At the 82’ mark, Andre Ayew scored the equalizer and put Ghana on the scoreboard. Gyan’s heel pass proved to be a cunning move, and Ghana’s relentless pursuit of the American defense yielded the intended result. Real life and fantasy fans alike were on the edge of their seats anticipating what the remaining few minutes of the match would bring.
John Brooks proved he was in it to win it when he scored the U.S.’s second goal at the 86’ mark; a conversion off of Graham Zusi’s right side corner kick. Just a few minutes later, he would make a crucial play at the other end of the field blocking a goal attempt by Gyan. Those five extra minutes at the end of the game were fraught with tension, but America managed to hang on for the win—U.S.A. 2, Ghana 1.
Julia Randall is too busy cheering on team USA to do much besides wear her patriotic fanny-pack and write about sports!