I was fired up even before this match when the U.S. fans present in Brazil were singing the National Anthem. What a great and inspiring note they struck!
However, I had just settled down when, 30 seconds into the game, Texan Clint Dempsey broke through some sloppy defending and drilled a shot off of the inside of the post to put the U.S. up 1-0 over Ghana. Amazing! The next 85 minutes found some opportunities for both, but injuries to Jozy Altidore (hamstring pull) and Dempsey (broken nose off a “high” boot) put a damper on fans.
The real downer though came with just eight minutes remaining in regulation when a Ghanan shot found its way past U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard. No doubt, it was a world class goal, but what a disappointment. I can say that past U.S. national teams would have been too disheartened to mount a counter attack but not this team.
With just four minutes remaining, a late substitute, John Brooks, was found all alone off a corner kick and drilled a header into the back of the net. The whole country erupted into one loud cheer and confidence soared. This was a must win for the U.S. Facing the No. 2 and 4 rated in the world for the last two matches meant that the U.S. had to get points out of this game (3 pts win, 1 pt tie).
With only three games to be played, it will be a close call but if the U.S. can get at least something out of the Portugal match, but it should be in good position to advance to the Round of 16 (Sweet Sixteen for you non-soccer, basketball types). Already, the exciting win over Ghana has caused a ripple of new interest across the country. Die hard football and basketball fans may sneer at this but in fact, it is the most popular game in the world and has steadily gained in popularity and participation in this country.