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Late Brooks header lifts USMNT to first World Cup win vs. Ghana

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Photo by John Todd/


NATAL, Brazil — John Brooks could not have picked a better time to score his first international goal.

Brooks lifted the U.S. Men’s National Team to a memorable and dramatic 2-1 win over Ghana in their intense Group G opener at Arena das Dunas on Monday night, scoring off a corner kick from Graham Zusi in the 86th minute.  The goal came four minutes after Ghana had negated a first-minute strike from Clint Dempsey and saw the U.S. defeat the Black Stars for the first time in three World Cup attempts.

The Americans jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 30 seconds into the match played in humid and dry conditions when Clint Dempsey finished a low effort, but the next 80 minutes consisted mostly of Ghana dominating possession and creating and wasting chances. When Andre Ayew finally converted in the 82nd minute, Ghana looked like it might pull out a late victory.

That mood changed when Brooks headed home a Zusi corner kick to give the Americans the lead for good and put them in second place of Group G behind Germany.

“I was still convinced we (were) going to win this game even after the equalizer,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “I had the feeling that another two, three opportunities will come, that we just need to use one of those opportunities, which happened. Definitely the start that we wanted, they worked hard for it and it’s just a good feeling to have those first three points.”

While the Americans got the three points they were so adamant about in the run-up to the physical match played in front of 39,760 fans, it came at a price. Both Jozy Altidore and Matt Besler, who Brooks replaced at halftime, left the game with hamstring issues.

Altidore suffered a non-contact left hamstring strain midway through the first half that forced him to be stretchered off, and Besler was taken off due to hamstring tightness in his right leg.

“We rely a lot on Jozy. That’s no secret,” said midfielder Michael Bradley. “To lose him at that point in the game is difficult. Obviously then having to make a second change right away with Matt at halftime means that we’re playing 45 more minutes and have one sub. In this heat and this humidity, you’re just kind of waiting to see how that goes.”

The U.S. got off to a dream start in the match, scoring 30 seconds into the affair to record the sixth-fastest goal in World Cup history.

DaMarcus Beasley passed a ball to Jermaine Jones, who flicked it into the path of Dempsey. The U.S. captain then dribbled into the penalty area and fired a low shot that caromed off the far post and in. The strike made Dempsey the first American to score in three World Cups.

“I was able to cut back and see if there was space,” said Dempsey. “I just tried to hit it far post and it went in.”

Ghana responded by trying to attack down the flanks, especially on the left side against veteran Beasley. But goalkeeper Tim Howard and the U.S. centerbacks were up for the task against the bevy of crosses that were whipped in.

“We made a point not to let them play through the middle and not to let them play over the top,” said Besler. “At some point, you’re going to have to pick areas that you give a good team the ball and we made the decision that the wide areas were going to be kind of be what we gave up. I think we defended those wide areas well tonight.”

The U.S. struggled to maintain possession for much of the opening 45 minutes, and they lost Altidore to a left hamstring injury in the 21st minute. Bradley played a ball over the top to Altidore as the Americans tried to hit on a counter, and the veteran forward went down in a heap of pain. Aron Johannsson replaced him two minutes later.

Ghana had a numerous chances to pull level, but Asamoah Gyan was unable to convert any of his looks. He was denied spectacularly by Howard in the 32nd minute and the Ghana striker headed high six minutes later.

“In some ways, getting the goal so early almost throws the game into a tailspin,” said Bradley. “It’s natural then at that point that we start to get drawn back a little bit and obviously then they start to be able to control a little bit of the game.”

The second half also saw Ghana hog possession, but it was more dangerous in the attacking third than it had been in the opening 45 minutes.

Midway through the second half, Sulley Muntari shot just wide past an outstretched Howard and Gyan nodded a chance high seconds later.

The Ghanaians got their reward when Ayew rifled a low shot to the near post to pull Ghana level, but Brooks came to the U.S.’s rescue and headed home a late corner to give the U.S. a dramatic win.

“It’s a special moment for the boy,” said Klinsmann. “He did well.”

The Americans will now gear up for their next match on June 22 and will look to build on a crucial win when they take on Cristiano Ronaldo and a Portugal team that needs a win after suffering an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Germany earlier on Monday. The match will be played at Arena Amazonia in Manaus.


  1. With Altidore likely out for the near future, I would consider pushing Dempsey up top and playing Mix behind him. Just a thought. Would rather have his creativity than Johansson or Wondo trying to be what they aren’t in a target role.

  2. I am really curious as to why our defensive line of pressure was so deep throughout the match. I understand not wanting to chase Ghana all over the pitch. But Ghanaian attackers were in possession 35 yards from goal with loads of space in front of them all game long. This is suicidal tactically. Once they’re that advanced, we have stay closer to the man on the ball so he can’t freely do whatever he wants. Overjoyed about the win, but we have a lot of things to fix.

    • it had to have been nerves we kept turning the ball over whenever we tried posses. I’ve never seen anything like it. Ghana weren’t stealing the ball we were giving it away to them. Playing that way is so tiring I can’t believe we’ve won. I think it was all nerves. I’ve never seen Bradley play like that in my life. I don’t know how else to explain it.

    • If the Ghanians had so much space in front goal, how do you explain the efforts of Jones and Beckerman? They were closed down repeatedly. Ghana had 8 shots on goal. One went in. Four were saved by Howard. The other 3 didn’t get there because they were blocked by good defending. That was out a total of 22 shots. The U.S. took 8 shots, put 7 on goal, scored 2 and forced the keeper into 3 saves. Altidore’s shot was blocked by two defenders.

      Either Ghana’s midfielders and forwards can’t kick a soccer ball to save their lives or they really didn’t have the space to shoot as you suggest. The stats and the game say that latter. Watch the replay on ESPN 3.

  3. The reactionary Ives comment never fail to amuse me. One game and fans calling for Bradley to get the drop (go be England fans shouting for Rooney to get the drop). Bradley was certainly poor in possession. But Ghana was well drilled in how they approached the game. They squeezed the middle of the pitch all night, sucking up any space for Bradley to operate. And lets be honest, Ghana had about 65 percent possession, so when Bradley did get the ball his legs had to be burning — not the easiest situation to keep the ball.

    I also think we are underestimating how much the Altidore injury effected the match. Bradley finds space when Jozy can stretch the field. He simultaneously allows Bradley to pick up the ball and turn, and provides an outlet over the top. Arron came on and looked completely lost. So much so it looked like we were playing 10 v 11 at times. Jurgen will get this sorted going forward, and I expect a much better Bradley (though he put in a good shift on the defensive side like everyone else, and if anyone thinks Mixx is ready to start your kidding yourselves).

    • Hmm really? I’m tempted to agree on Mix, but honestly Aron was so bad, you have to at least consider bringing in Mix and playing Dempsey as the forward, which he has done in the past, even if it is not his best. I just can’t see Wondo starting.

      • was AJ bad? we only had the ball for a total of 5 minutes. I don’t think we can saying about his performance based on his two touches on the ball.

      • That is at least 75 percent of my point. AJ touched the ball five times cause he was woefully inept. I think he has great potential, and am fine with his inclusion in the squad, but today the level looked a step beyond him. He was nervous when he got the ball at his feet and offered almost nothing in terms of dynamic movement to help the midfield.

      • I think that’s true but he can only play in first world cup game once. He was obviously nervous and did not make great decisions, but he doesn’t play that way for his club, I think its a problem that solves itself. Bradley also seemed nervous, in fact the whole team seemed really nervous, I think we had absolutely no idea what to do once we scored in the first 30 seconds. We never lead in any games in the last world cup except for Algeria and that was in stoppage time. I think we, as a team were out of our depth there, for which I think Klinsman has to bare the blame.

      • I’m thinking Dempsey moves up top alone, Zusi and Bedoya play wings with Bradley centering and Jones and Beckerman in front of the CBs.

        Jones was all over the pitch today, playing way further up than I expected. Never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for Beckerman.

      • The formation allowed Jones to move up field. He’s basically playing the same role as Bedoya on the opposite side of the field. Also also Jones got the assist on deuce’s goal.

      • That’s a fair point on Mixx — and I did turn to Mrs Grubbsbl around the 75 minute and commented that Aron could be subbed for Mixx. I wouldn’t have mind that. My comment on Mixx was more in regard that he isn’t ready for Bradley’s role.

    • I’m probably in the minority but I like Wondo over Johannson. Wondo brings an opportunistic element that could work with a strong Dempsey (assuming..). Johannson just doesn’t seem to have the required physicality to play with the big boys.

    • He might have actually found some space when Ghana was pressing. After the Ukraine match weren’t we all saying there’s no way Brooks is ready?

    • haha…i was going to say something, but it’s to easy….green = wasted spot.
      the game must look really exciting from his vantage point!
      now look & learn something …………..and come back in 4yrs. lol.

      • Yup, such a wasted spot. Could have had Boyd or EJ or Landon or another defender. But no, Green will chill on the bench with a front row seat while the big boys compete.

      • Let’s give the kid a chance. When rosters were released many were mad that Brooks was on the team as well. Sure Green looked out of sorts in the short sub stints but its not like EJ or Donovan were inform super subs when the rosters were announced. Also Boyd has potential but never shined in the US setup either.

  4. Howard — 5 — was at a 7 until he got beaten near post… again.
    Beasley — 6 — no rest for the weary (and old). Need to adjust in the future so he has some help.
    Besler — 7 — hope he’s ok for Portugal
    Cameron — 6.5 — no complaints
    Johnson — 4 — why didn’t he attack more, given that Ghana were entirely focused on the other side?
    Beckerman — 7 — would have been MOTM if not for….
    Jones — 8 — played his little heart out, brought a tear to the eye. No cards!
    Bradley — 4 — so many turnovers. So tight he looked like he was trying to turn coal into a diamond. Worrisome to say the least.
    Bedoya — 6 — lunch pail
    Dempsey — 6.5 — provided the individual brilliance that is so rare in a US shirt. And gutted it out despite a nose that’s surely broke. Hoping he shows up against Portugal with a black mask to make Cristiano pee his pants
    Altidore — INC — not looking good for him
    Johannsson — 5 — not sure he’s at this level, since we’ve only ever seen him against Dutch league defending and in international garbage time. Had some moments but was timid. Here’s hoping he breaks out.
    Zusi — 6.5 — nice hair, nice corner
    Brooks — 7 — solid defending except for a clearance or two; oh and he scored the winner. Best celebration of the tourney so far.
    Klinsmann — 3 — Boyd should’ve been on the plane. And maybe some help for Beas?
    Trainers — 1 — WTF?

    • My only issue is with Klinsmann’s grade. He obviously had us ready for those first ten especially, and we looked far more dangerous going forward while Jozy was in the game. Losing Jozy is no one’s fault, despite the nonsense some will spout here. Also, no one, not even Boyd, is a real replacement for Jozy. It is an issue no coach can solve.

    • +1 for the Trainers… LOL

      You nailed it. I think I was most upset about Johannsson, and quite frankly makes me a bit nervous. Maybe I’m the only one, but when Altidore went down, I couldn’t help but think leaving Donovan (maybe even Eddie Johnson) off the roster was a poor decision.

      Time will tell!

  5. this your team is getting no where, you won by luck and not by your effort. Ghana should have beaten you 5nil but we were unlucky. I don’t think you have a good team

    • hahahaha I think we won despite Dempsey breaking his nose, our best forward getting injured, 3 other players limping around and Bradley (our best player) having his worse game in years. Ghana is that poor

    • i wouldn’t go that far Coach (you don’t have a good team) BUT, the US sure didn’t look good and i’d venture to say they didn’t desreve to win. at the same time if a team like ghana that controlled pretty much the whole match, doesn’t know what to do in front of goal, then i’m not sure you’re team deserved to win either….US took the couple of chances they had, your team didn’t. ….now germany and portugal will make team usa pay if they play the same way again.

      • Actually I think the US and Ghana were even in shots attempted and the US had more shots on goal and most importantly more goals. The long crosses Ghana stuck with were too easy to deal with for Howard and the 6′ 3+” tall CBS.

    • And we could have had two in the first ten, kept our striker, and left you in the dust, but more importantly, despite us losing two starters to injury, one of our best players, Bradley having his worst game in years, you still lost. Maybe your team is just crap, eh?

    • Coach,…don’t kid yourself. The USA played poorly,…and still won the game. Your boys were sleeping at the start,…tisk, tisk, tisk. Despite your teams thuggery,…(Ghana is the Honduras of Africa),…the USA played on and won the game. Our most reliable player had an absolutely crap game,….multiple injuries,….and the USA still won. Maybe you needed a few more witch doctors in the stands.

      I would tell you in person if I hailed a taxi in Manhattan.

    • Yes that was Klinsmann at Roulette table calling out 00. Look at the stats. That wasn’t luck. Take off the clown shoes and go to sleep.

    • Their finishing in the final third was poor. Try to wrap your head around this, but your players did not take advantage of their chances and you will get punished at this level if you don’t.

  6. Longest flight back to home base: the physios. Too many hammies to be coincidence. Some hard questions need to be asked and answered.

  7. Crosses and long diagonals can be easily defended and are generally ineffective. England ourcrossed italy about 5 to 1 with no results. Ghana did the same. Lets hope Portugal crosses the ball a lot

    • Thanks for pointing this out. In the second half I did get nervous, but really, was any US fan bothered in the first 45? Ghana really didn’t do much.

  8. Klinsmann continues to have the magic touch on subs. Zusi to Brooks. Knew we might need a set piece, so Zusi on while still ahead, instead of any number of subs he might have made elsewhere, like Mix for Dempsey. The guts to put a raw 21-year old out there instead of the more tested (both good and bad) Omar.

      • There were injured all over the place and he chose Zusi for Bedoya from among them. Cameron was cramped up, Dempsey had a broken nose, Jones had pulled up tight several times, Johannson was not pulling his weight so though unconventional you could even contemplate Wondo for Johannson to try to keep some possession. Give the man some credit, there were plenty of other choices that no one would have criticized but he pulled the string that unraveled the whole sweater.

  9. congrats on the win, but the US didn’t look good at all. got bossed all thru the game. not sure the outcome would of been the same if ghana knew what the hell to do in the final third. I understand everyone is happy ( finally beat ghana) but it didn’t look good from a neutral perspective.
    Good luck on the next couple of games though.

    • Fair assessment. I do take some confidence in key individual contributions (Deuce’s goal was class, JJ was a disruptive and composed presence) and if we can get some possession play in midfield (that we had in the warmup matches) while maintaining shape, then think we will play more effectively.

      • true, the 2-3 points you mentioned were good, but you don’t get many chances in a WC to hope that things (possession, shape, etc) will hopefully get straightened out. klinsman’s had quite a bit of time to figure out how he wants the US to play….today wasn’t really a good sign, besides showing heart and a lot of luck the US could (should?) of lost.
        again Good Luck.

      • Without the 2 best forwards moving to get open and harassing the opposing defense, it will be tough for any midfield to maintain possession for long without making way too many backward passes that eventually lead to a desperate long ball forward.

        Hopefully Dempsey will be able to be more active and Wondo or Mix will be added in a change of formation that can help fix that part.

        Ghana was tactically weak and persisted in trying over and over that which was not working (long crosses and long shots), it is no surprise their goal came from quick combination play and a bit of individual skill. Had they tried that more often the US would have been in more trouble.

    • bossed in the second half I agree, but Ghana just didn’t scare me at all in the first 45, and frankly, until Jozy was injured, we looked more likely to score again in the first 20. Now while we might struggle the rest of the way, until we had a silly wave of injuries, we were fine. As for “bossed,” you South Americans and Europeans are using that word way to much to describe any difference in possession, but possession is crap until you can fashion danger from it, and for the vast majority of the game, Ghana was not dangerous at all.

      • agree to disagree Ben. ghana just had no creativity in the final third but to say they weren’t dangerous?. I’m not so sure portugal, germany or any other top 10-15 nation out there wouldn’t have made the US pay for all the times ghana was in the USA’s final third.. I’m hoping the USA does great, but this game was a lot of grit and luck, not sure that;s always going to work out…..we’ll see.

      • Sorry, but doesn’t no creativity in the final third pretty much equal no danger? I agree better, more creative teams could punish the US in the performance like tonight, but Ghana had nothing in the final third, so who cares how much they held it otherwise? Hey my brother and I could pass it all day around two thirds of the field if no one cared that we did.

    • Your perspective isn’t neutral. The U.S. did well defensively. We will see how Portugal and Germany respond to Ghana’s physicality. In fact, Ghana has shown to be most physically demanding of the four African sides. Nigeria is lost. Ivory Coast did well, but Japan is not that deep.

    • So if a team plays well defensively it just means the other team couldn’t convert their chances and you were lucky? Why not give credit where credit is due. The US stepped up and played a great defensive game. Did they have to play more defense than we would have liked? Of course. There is more than one way to dictate a game. The defense made Ghana play in a way they are not real confident with. That is dictating a game.

  10. Thoughts:

    1) Bradley was beyond bad. I don’t know the proper adjective but my guess his move to the MLS finally showed in this game. I would actually be happy if he didn’t see the field for the rest of the tournament after today. Yeah, I just wrote what you read. I mean it.

    2) Jones proved his worth in so many ways today. Apart from Bedoya and Howard, he was the best player on the field.

    3) Why are SO MANY players hurt? Makes you wonder what JK is doing with them in practice. I saw at least 5 different players limping around on the field tonight. No good!

    4) Dempsey is a beast but has a terrible attitude and disappears for huge stretches.

    5) Brooks’ goal was HUGE. I guess most of us who were or are against having the Germans have to eat crow. No problem by me! I admit I was wrong.

    6) Not having Jozy is a huge loss. I worry about it going forward.

    All in all, a TERRIBLE match from our boys. We got the win but based on this performance, it’s hard to predict a win against Portugal.

    • “I would actually be happy if he didn’t see the field for the rest of the tournament after today. Yeah, I just wrote what you read. I mean it.”

      That is a contender for dumbest thing I’ve ever read on this site.

      • You obvious didn’t watch the game.

        Feelings are great but when they aren’t based on facts you look the fool.

        Whatever. It is just a game and we can disagree. The decision in JK’s. Let’s see what he decides.

      • Definitely a boneheaded comment. He had a bad game. Get over it. He’ll more than make up for it against Portugal.

    • Bradley is the key to this team’s success. When he has a bad day, the US also struggles, that the US managed to win despite his under-performance tells me that defensively the US has gotten stronger. The lack of sustained possession was partly due to Bradley’s off day as well as the loss of Jozy and Clint’s virtual disappearance after being kicked in the head.

      The US will figure out how to make things work better offensively. Whether that is replacing AJ with Wondo or using (a clear-headed) Dempsey as a lone striker with Zusi or Mix added to the midfield is not clear, but solutions exist and they will be tried.

  11. Dont think we can play all 3 dmids next game. One will have to sit so as to have fresh legs in the final 30 minutes. Maybe we see 4-4-2 or more likely 4-2-3-1.

  12. Klinsmann and his staff need to be given props for the defensive strategy. Ives hit it on the head in his column. The defense forced Ghana away from its strength and pushed them wide to where they are not strong. They are not good crossers of the ball. They had 3 solid chances on goal and got the one goal when the attached the middle on a great given and go. Other than that, Ghana was physical but not dominant. Possession statistics are overrated in soccer. They are only telling when you examine the strategy of each time and the success of that strategy. Plus if possession does not equal multiple shots on goal then the possession didn’t amount to much. Ghana had 8 shots of goal and only half of which required a save out of Howard. The U.S. had 7 on goal out 8 chances and converted 2. Ghana is not an efficient team. Most of the African teams are not, that is why they struggle in the World Cup and yet to when at World Cup title. Also it explains why Italy has had such a successful history.

    • Mr. willy,

      “Ghana is not an efficient team. Most of the African teams are not, that is why they struggle in the World Cup and yet to when at World Cup title. Also it explains why Italy has had such a successful history.”

      Italy has a comparatively well organized and wealthy FA. Their national team is well organized, reasonably stable and many of the players come from just a few clubs and are familiar with each other.

      Most of Africa FA’s are f==ked up and corrupt and have trouble organizing a team let alone winning a World Cup. Ghana and the Ivory Coast are reasonably well organized and have so much talent they are always a threat, but a well organized team usually beats a more talented but much less organized team, especially in a World Cup where every team is insanely well motivated.

      And we all saw how pathetic an unmotivated and unpaid Cameroon looked.

      Americans have a hard time relating to the fact that a well financed, well organized USMNT has many serious advantages over much poorer African teams.

      The real miracle is that African teams are as competitive as they are.

  13. Never count Ghana out. Our coach was clueless, we lost from the bench, I believe if we have Klinsman as a coach we would have won this tournament

    • Not a chance. Ghana has to get after it against Germany. Once they open up,….Ozil, Goetz, Schurrle, etc. will rip Ghana to pieces. 4-0 Germany.

    • Portugal maybe. Germany NOOOOO. Though, it is critical that we win against Portugal to control our destiny in the group. A tie will make things more harrowing for us.

    • Germany – no chance. They are the class of this tournament so far.
      Portugal – early US score would demoralize and then they would fold. Has Dempsey got one more?

  14. 1. I counted 627 turnovers by Bradley. For me, he was the single biggest reason for the US’s struggles for most of the game. Just a disaster.
    2. Jermaine Jones was my MOTM. He seemed to be everywhere.
    3. I guess we can shelve the old “the US always has an advantage in fitness” thing.
    4. I don’t know if it was the early lead, or Altidore’s injury, or fatigue, but for about 60 minutes the team resembled teams from the bad old days – zero possession, instant turnovers, etc.
    5. Beckerman was terrific in his role.
    6. Beasley was a target all night long. Ghana had him figured out and went after him time after time. This is a big worry going into the Portugal.
    7. Can anybody else out there play LB?

    • Brain Guy: I agree with your analysis, but I would modify one bit:

      6. Beasley was a target all night long. Ghana had him figured out and went after him time after time…and yet he held. They scored from the other side of the field.

      (Give Beas some credit!)

      • Fair enough. But he also required plenty of help from Jones and Besler. Still, I see your point. It was a good “bend but don’t break” performance from Beasley.

      • I think someone in Ghana reads Soccer By Ives and thought that the people bad-mouthing Beasley knew what they’re talking about — which they don’t. Beasley looks fragile because of his slight build; but anyone who has watched him play for the MNT over the last dozen years knows that he’s anything but fragile. Yes, he gets knocked down a lot — always has, always will. But he always recovers and always recovers in time to make the required play. The man’s been doing his defensive job for us and doing it well. And, it should be noted, he also put the offensive play in motion that led to Dempsey’s goal. Please, folks, find someone more deserving to beat up on.

      • I’ll plead “guilty” of beating up on Beasley, but with extenuating circumstances. I recognize that he was asked to do a lot more than Johnson, and did what he needed to do to repel the many attacks he faced, but there were plenty of worrisome moments over on the left side. I will retract my point #7 (“Can anyone else out there play left back?”) and hope that Beasley’s grit and experience will be enough to withstand the expected onslaught from Portugal on Sunday.

    • I agree with the LB problem. If besler is good to go, I wouldn’t mind seeing Cameron on the right, JAB and Besler, and Fab on the left

    • Ghana was well schooled on our 4-3-2-1. They took away all short passes thru the center of the park which enabled us to maintain possession against Nigeria. Very well prepared team, but couldnt hit the right cross. US intentionally allowed play to flow to wings. Then they won the ball on most crosses. They too were prepared tacticly. Difference was MB struggly with passes, and Jozy going down. Johannson was found out to be a square peg in a round hole in the hold up role. We will all miss Jozy, and come to appreciate much of his unsung work. I for one did not realize just how many times he was on the end of clearances and loose balls in last few games. Sorry Jozy.

    • Have to agree. This was not the same team that swept there prelims. Felt more like an Arena team – take possession and either try to dribble up the sidelines until tackled or just kick it to the other team and hunker down to defend. Even when they had the lead with time running down I kept looking for the (hated) back passes and possession play.

      They were simply over trained and it showed in the injuries (both apparent and otherwise – was Bradley 100%??).

    • Agree with most, yet Beasley had the most work to do for 50 minutes. Certainly he had a few ill-timed bad footing moments (slips, stuck cleats, etc.) And he often needed some help, but again to be expected when they are pouring to the right. He also had a few important stops and his runs did create numbers… however they couldn’t seem to get good spacing when he went forward.

      In all: 3 points is likely all we’ll see unless we can find a different approach ahead of Portugal. Even with their own send-offs and injuries we’ll need to find a way to create more chances just to take a draw.

  15. Amazing game all around Brooks came in and dominated the air, Beasley held up pretty well considering all the pressure he was under, Timmy has to do better on goals like that, Cameron where were you 4 years ago? Theres just something about Bedoya’s game that I love and Now all we have to do is try and unleash he!! against Portugal

  16. Jones was my man of the match for sure. Hard not to go with Brooks, but Jones went 90. With Bradley playing as poorly as he did, it really limited us on the counter. We looked more dangerous on the counter than Ghana did with most of their possession. Their goal was beautiful but how many crosses of there’s were terrible. The tactics must have worked in that regard, Ghana could not break us down through the middle and had to settle for crosses. We did well on those for the most part.

    Going forward, Bradley can’t play that poorly again so we should be more stable through the middle as we try to spring the counter. Our shape and 1v1 defending were great for most of the game so that bodes well going forward. Lets see how it stacks up against the sides in the group that can attack much better than Ghana.

    oh and….Go USA!

    • I don’t think Bradley will play this game again. I think he was thrown off with the switch because of Jozy’s injury. It really changed the flow up front.

      • I agree with you. There is no way he is that poor again. He is too good. We won with our best player playing his worst game. There’s something to be said for that.

  17. its sad that the better side lost. did u c atsu and kojo asamoah? u guys can’t even hold unto the ball and u are happy,congrats tho

    • I would tend to agree that perhaps the better side did lose today. Ghana has to do better on their crosses though. They lacked any ideas how to break USA down through the middle. We conceded the crosses and Ghana did not exploit it. Ghana had one clear chance and took it. With the amount of the ball Ghana had, they had to do better in the final third. Then to fall asleep on the corner late after getting the equalizer, they only have themselves to blame.

      • No, Ghana lost because their finishing was atrocious and their crosses rarely reached any of their players. They made mistakes and paid for them.

    • Actually Ghana is the team that needs to step it up. They attacked our strong point (the air) instead of keeping it on the ground all those fancy flicks and chips into the box won’t save you from a 6’5 and 6’3 CB combination

      • It reminded me of the Colombia-USA match from ’94 in that regard. In both cases, the USMNT’s opponent played into the team’s strength and strategy.

      • This. We were more dangerous than Ghana until Jozy left, and we don’t have a replacement for him, which is scary for us.

      • What I saw in the Germany-Portugal game and today’s game, Ghana may eat Portugal’s lunch. Ghana will fall to Germany, most likely, but I think they end with 3 points. Without Jozy, I am distressed about Portugal-US but I was thinking that they looked suspect in back and CR doesn’t seem to play well with his teammates. Aron J will have to step it up. And I expect Germany to play for the win in the third match, not looking for a draw,

    • Ghana would done exactly the same thing we did if they got a 1-0 lead. That’s just how team in this group have to play considering how Germany looked. Gotta get result against each other and hope you can get a tie or don’t get blown out by Germany. The second Ghana scored see what happen. USA actually had possession and looked more threatening then Ghana. Just so happen that we score 4 minute later so we went back to bunkering.

    • Ya, f-k this guy right off. These are the people I love avoiding with my passion for soccer. Go watch baseball with the frat.

    • Emma,

      Sorry,…but the better team did win tonight. Any decent team does not concede in the first five and last five.

      Not to mention the USA played poorly and had to deal with multiple injuries and Ghana thuggery (see fouls on Dempsey, Jones (3) and more). Not to mention our most reliable player,…Michael Bradley, played poorly. So,…if Ghana could not take advantage tonight,…when the USA struggled,…well then.

      I must say,…I love the African confidence. Enjoy the Germany match. Methinks 4-0 Germany,…but the better team will not have won and Ghana will be the best team in the tournament with zero points!

      • ted you must admit, US got outplayed, they were just lucky ghana couldn’t finish. not sure portugal or germany will be that bad in front of goal.

      • Yup luck had everything to do with Dempsey’s class goal, Zusi sweet corner and Brooks delivering the death blow.

        Why should we care if Ghana couldn’t finish? That’s your problem not ours. I bet you don’t talk about luck if that was us on the other side of the equation.

        We won. Deal!

      • Ghana’s poor finishing was mostly due to poor tactics of relying on long crosses and long shots. The goal they did get came from combination play and a bit of individual skill. That quickness and dribbling skill was supposed to be one of Ghana’s strengths. They used that talent too seldom and as a result failed to create enough goods chances.

    • Haha, what? Sorry, no one was mistaking you for Barcelona or Munich out there. You had possession, but the vast, vast majority of that, you didn’t look dangerous for anything.

    • Eddie Johnson is sitting somewhere saying, “Told you so.”

      I’m not an Eddie fan, but I think most of us wondered who the Altidore-like player is in case of injury.

      • Just fine? He did nothing… It wasn’t all his fault because we couldn’t get him the ball… But Johannsson did not add much today.

      • Adam,

        You are criticizing AJ for not adding much but then you say ” we couldn’t get him the ball”.

        Well, if you had Leo Messi in there and you couldn’t get him the ball how do you think he would do?

        It is hard to do well if you don’t have the ball.

      • I had high hopes for AJ, but was very disappointed with his performance today. True, he didn’t see much of the ball. But each of the few times it reached him he dribbled directly into trouble and turned the ball over without much of a fight. I hope it was just youth and first-time nerves and that he’ll do better if given another chance. It must have come as an incredible shock to have settled down as a spectator and then suddenly find himself on the pitch in such a high-pressure game.

      • Yes you do. We didm’t miss Donovan, but we missed Jozy. We were the more dangerous team with Jozy, not so without him.

      • We certainly could have used Donovan’s passing. Nothing can change my mind that the US should have brought Donovan instead of Brad Davis and Eddie Johnson instead of Wondolowski. EJ is much more of a threat to get behind defenses and keep them more honest and he is the best threat in the air we have, notwithstanding JAB.

      • Gary, many have made the point about Donovan, but EJ was awful leading up to selection. Not just the goal scoring drought, but he was lazy, his touch was so bad he lost the ball constantly, never hustled back when he lost the ball, was lazily offside pouting a bunch of times, he was frankly pathetic.
        Not to mention his attitude was terrible.
        You got 30 slots to bring in, the other guys are all scoring and hustling, I mean at some point JK has to make that decision.
        If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s on EJ.

  18. Dempsey awarded official MOTM by FIFA. Played with broken nose. Tough SOB. Who did the player rankings on Completely off base. Particularly about Jones.

  19. I just came. I don’t think the US played all that bad, honestly. The team still created chances up until the Jozy injury

  20. Could not possibly be happier with the win – not that it was particularly deserved but 3 points is 3 points and this is the Group of Death.

    That said, one thought keep flashing through my mind….why the #$%$ did we have our training camp at Stanford and why is our main training ground in Brazil in the South? I know we had to make these decisions in advance, but seriously. Shell out the money, cancel the contracts and train in Miami instead.

    Every single player looked like they were about to cramp up and/or were jogging by the 30th minute. It was unreal. Eat some bananas and drink some gatorade in the future. Seriously.

      • No, but I’m from Miami and ran track and cross country down there. I know what it’s like to run 6 miles in 92 degrees and 100% humidity day in and day out. It was 78 degrees in Natal today.

        I’m not saying I’m a better athlete than any of the players on that field. Dear God, of course not. But it’s something that’s very clearly avoidable and falls on the trainers more than anyone.

      • Dan,

        Running track and cross country is not like soccer.

        Soccer is about standing around, walking , jogging, and sprinting half the field and then jumping up in the air to head a ball and getting knocked on your butt.and kicked in various parts of your body.

        And then doing it all over again. For 90 + minutes with only the halftime break.

        When you were on the track team were people constantly tripping you when you were sprinting full out?

        And if you have ever watched Jozy play you would know he regularly takes quite a beating in the course of a game.

        Sorry but track and field does not not make the same demands on your body that playing striker does.

      • Dan’s comments are valid. We’re not talking about physicality here. Jozy got injured without any contact.

    • I was wondering why the players didn’t take advantage of the couple of breaks in play to get a swig or two of Gatorade during the match. They clearly could have used it. Or, is this part of JK’s training regiment?

    • My favorite non-goal moment of the match was watching Jones stay totally cool and collected when Muntari shoved him while they were both on the ground. Jones put his hands up and let the ref deal with it. Awesome!

      • Yeah, I liked that, too. I think we’re seeing JJ who now isn’t being told by the coach to be a ‘street fighter,’ as Klinsmann used to say.

        But my question for any referee types is why didn’t Muntari get a card? He initiated contact and then went at Jones on the ground afterward? Isn’t that automatic?

  21. Fortunate to win that one. Not sure if the early goal is the main reason we moved to our back foot. Jones the MOTM, even though there were hardly any inspired passes or runs from any midfielder… until Zuzi’s winning corner take. Bradley was practically absent and didn’t seem to connect any forward moving pass… Yes, Josy was sorely missed, and may require a formation shake-up if he stays out.

    In fact, so many apparent US hamstring tweaks or injuries it will raise questions if the training regime was the right one.

    • Exactly, way too many cramps to be coincidence. This is reminiscent of the camp before the Honduras qualifier. Very worrying for sure

    • We knew full well Ghana wanted us to open the match up. Yeah it was ugly, Yeah Bradley was poor but they got the job done.

    • Spot on. Bradley needs to pick it up. I thought Boyd was better option than Wondo as a Jozy Backup. I wonder what JK does next. With that being said Portugal is not 100% neither are we. Will be a title fight next sunday. Basically Portugal has to win. And we dont want lose having to beat Germany…Stressssssin me out!!!

      • I think a tie will be fine against Portugal.

        Assuming Germany beats Ghana, they’ll just be looking not to get hurt in that third game. Not likely we’d lose the tie breaker, if we can get a point against Portugal.

      • The thing that bothered me is our target went out, and we responded by forcing everything up field as impatiently as we did. That’s why the possession was so one-sided. Without Altidore, we should have gone more the other direction, worked the ball up field with shorter diagonal passes, and hope something opened up on the other end.

      • It’s harder to work the ball up the pitch when you don’t have a forward option. Ghana quickly understood Arron wasn’t up for it and a broken nosed Dempsey isn’t as dangerous as a regular Dempsey. The Ghanian backline squeezed the space by stepping up. Add a high line to a great midfield and the US was bound to struggle to hold the ball. Our only option was to hit it long, and without Jozy, that plan failed.

  22. Wow! Klinsmann knows something about football, Brooks comes through with the winner (+ cap tied :)), and we finally beat Ghana! Glory day!

    • Also, despite how happy and relieved I am, I can’t help feeling like this was a Pyrrhic victory after losing Jozy and potentially Besler and Bedoya to injury. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so acutely how thin our options are when we lose someone in a position. I really wish Terrence Boyd was available right now.

      • I’m very worried about the injuries. We don’t have anyone to replace Altidore. Sure, Johannson is good and I even like Wondo – but neither of them have his size or ability to hold up the ball. Or play defense. They’re both poachers.

        We’re gonna miss all the work Altidore does when he’s not scoring (or missing).

      • Jk said the Besler substitution was precautionary and I think it was the same with Bedoya. Zusi was as good as Bedoya anyway. The bigger problem was Jozy and how well the team can recover since conditions for the next game may be even worse weather wise.

    • +1000000….an American is an American! Glad those guys represented our country with pure heart and relentless effort.

    • Nothing wrong with dual nationals. Something wrong with guys who need convincing to be team USA and care more about football than the shirt, badge, country.

    • Yes. Although he’s meant to be playing further up the pitch, it seems he hasn’t figured out his comfort zone as Jones is playing further into the center (deservedly, at least he is challenging the ball) than a typical wing. Plus when Bradley did get possession his head rarely looked upfield and was often content to one-touch it to the back.

      Tough to imagine a formation without Bradley, but we need some way to get the ball forward other than Johnson always making a run and eventually leaving the right back tired or exposed.

      • The forwards have to take some responsibility for not showing. They were impossible to find for much of the game; after Jozy left and Clint god kicked in the head the number of times a midfielder had an opportunity to make a simple pass to them was few. Beasley and FJ making runs out of the back did make themselves available and Jones, Bradley, Beckerman and Bedoya did find them by making less than impossible passes. The more advanced the midfielder was, the more obvious it was that the forwards were not doing enough to get open.

        If JK saw what I saw in that, Wondo might get the start vs Portugal (or maybe a single striker, Dempsey) and Zusi or Mix in the midfield.

  23. Jermaine Jones is way too undisciplined
    Jermaine Jones fouls too much
    Jermaine Jones gives the ball way worse than anyone..


    • Anyone that knows anything about soccer has always known he’s a stud. I’m just glad he “re-proved” that to everyone today.

      • No kidding. Hate to say it, but he attacks and controls possession moving box to box than he does as a CAM.

      • Problem with Jones is not his talent. He can be an asset. Trouble is he’s a liability waiting to happen.

      • Ridiculous. 11 matches running without being carded and kept his head on during some handbag exchanges from an angry ghanian.

        best player on the pitch for us tonight. he’s never once been a “liability.” Jonathan Bornstein was a liability. Ricardo Clark was a liability.

        Enough of this liability talk.

      • He was crazy calm there. He actually looked like he was trying to calm the other guy down as much stay calm himself.

      • Increase, I actually thought Jones was trying to talk the *referee* down. Like he saved the Ghanaian from getting carded.

        It’s a weird thing to do, but maybe he was just trying to shove it in SBI fans’ faces 😉

      • I actually think JJ gave him a little bit of a two foot facial.
        some pro gamesmanship,
        just a kiss on the cheek at the end of their tumble.

      • Bradley did not have his best day, but this was a tough matchup for him in particular based on the sheer size and athleticism of the opposing midfield. This was not CONCACAF or even spain or Spain or Italy or Holland, all of whom regularly send out pint-sized midfielders with strong technical skills, which he is a bit more accustomed and suited to.

        He ran himself ragged and tried to contribute but we won very few 50-50 balls today, and it was a big difference all over the field.

        Make no mistake, that is an absolutely excellent Ghana side. If they can avoid taking too much psychological damage from that, they could certainly compete with Portugal or even Germany. Getting three points from them was a big time feat.

    • Thank you the whole Beckerman over Jones argument is over rated Jones was our best player today in my opinion. I’ve been shouting the Jones argument for months. His Champions league quality came thru.

    • I can almost see the self-satisfied smirk on the face of each contributor of a snarky comment about LD. But I’d be willing to bet that, right now, with Altidore down and with Bradley having had such a poor game, Klinsmann wishes he had not left Donovan home. He has no one like Donovan who might to provide a consistent creative spark if Bradley does not do better in the upcoming games than he did today, and no one to collaborate with Dempsey who has had remotely as much experience playing with Dempsey as LD. After today, I don’t have much confidence in AJ. And Wondo does much better with Donovan on the pitch than he does in Donovan’s absence. Don’t get me wrong. We have some fine players who played well today. They may well get a result against Portugal and may well get out of the group. But they will have to do it without one of the best weapons we have. And that didn’t have to be so.

      • No one who provides a creative spark? How about #10, Mix Diskerud?

        Yeah, yeah, cite his lack of experience, but that’s just question begging.

        Disclaimer: I really wanted Landon on this team and I also saw exactly zero minutes of training camp.

      • I, too, like Diskerud and agree that he has shown creativity that most of his teammates seem to lack. It was with Diskerud in mind that I referred not merely to “a creative spark” but to a “consistent” creative spark, which, in my opinion, Diskerud has yet to demonstrate. I hope you’re right in suggesting that his time will come. I believe you’re too optimistic, however, if you think it will come during this World Cup.

      • After I calmed down following his goal the first thing I wondered is if Besler will find his name in the starting lineup against Portugal or if he just got bumped (all assuming he’s even healthy). I think I still want Besler, but it’s nice to have three guys I’m comfortable with now at that position.

      • Couldn’t this free up Cameron? He looked solid, maybe even really good. But Beasley was so bad on the left. We could switch Fab to the other side, slot Cameron on the right and JAB with besler?

      • Beasley was not bad. He absorbed about 80% of Ghana’s attack and dealt with Ghana’s two best players—and the one goal they got, came from the other side of the field.

      • Agreed. Beasley was setting up defensively each time to prevent the player from getting to the endline and then cutting in and shooting or crossing right into the 6 or across the line. Beasley let him put in crosses that allowd our centerbacks to face outward to see where to clear the ball away from pressure. You can’t do that when you have to turn and face your own goal.

      • beasley wasn’t bad. sure, ghana went at him relentlessly, but he was on hand most of the time to content the cross, put a foot in, or try to stretch the Ghanaian defense by running forward. he didn’t concede major fouls, blow assignments, or give away possession too much. I feel as though, if anything, Beckerman and Bradley were SHOCKING until the last 20 tonight.

      • Beckerman? I think he was our most important defensive cog tonight. Broke up attack after attack. JJ deserved MVP as he brought more towards our attack (also, I thought it was funny how EVERY SINGLE goal kick was directed to him after Howard realized no one else was winning them), but Beckerman was great in front of the CB pairing.

      • I said two years ao and even last year that Beckerman was a key player on the “B” squad but not up to WC squad or competition. I was wrong. Over the last 9 months he has convinced me that he desered a spot and maybe a start. He did an incredible job of balancing the mids and was right where he needed to be to stop the pass and the run that Ghana wanted to make near the top of our box.

    • +1. I have NEVER BEEN PROUDER of our team. They didn’t dominate anybody out there today. And make no mistake, that is an excellent Ghana team, with incredible athletes. A tough, tough matchup for us. We lost our most physical striker and best hold-up player. Beckerman, Bradley, and in particular Jones worked like madmen and earned it.

      Great performances all over. Some may forget the hustle that won us the late corner
      from Fabian Johnson, but not here. And no yellow cards.

      We will have to play better, but we will. That is about as tough a physical challenge as we will face… they came through. Problems to address tomorrow, but I hope they savor it as much many of us did. That was a USMNT performance for the vault.

      • When we only beat might Algeria? Or should’ve won against mighty Slovenia while still shipping goals? Get real. We played ugly but we got the 3. Just be happy, these 3 poits were far from assured. I cant believe people are being negative. This happens every 4 years people, enjoy it! Unless this is your first world cup I cant imagine complaining about beating a team we have never defeated and that have knocked us out of 2 tournaments.

      • Im not going to compare the two but we did have two goals wrongly called off that would have made the Algeria game a cake walk and would have finished with 2 wins and 1 tie. Thats pretty good

      • Ghana was also the bettors’ favorite by a clear margin. But after 1 round, the USA and Germany are in the pole positions to advance, while next time out Portugal and Ghana are not just looking for at least a result, they’re looking for a win, and Portugal feels a need for one by a wide margin.

      • I mean you no disrespect… but I honestly don’t think I’ll ever understand this comment.

        Like you, I was of course filled with every good feeling you can imagine and was very proud of them in 2010. Nobody in their right mind can ever forget that moment.

        And you are certainly right that the play (from us) was probably better in 2010. But the opposition was worse– far worse… Embarrassingly mediocre, particlarly considering Algeria actually could have advanced with a win and seemed more content to play spoilers to us. no comparison at all. Referees? Whatever… That happens in every game. It was hardly Italy/S.Korea in 2002.

        Today we played aganst a team that is almost certainly the best team ever to come to a World Cup from Africa. Don’t even bring some Roger Milla nonsense to the table. No comparison. It’s the same team that should have been semi-finalists at the last turn, only they have added some better pieces. The goal they scored is about as ridiculous and classy goal as you will see in any competition. And that’s what it took to break us down. But not break us. That’s guts.

        Like I said.. no disrespect… and I certainly can’t tell you how to feel… that’s always up to you and 2010 remains a high-water mark for us. But this was a day to be very proud of– so I feel compelled to make the case.

        Portugal Sunday. That’s what matters now. Cheers.

  24. Great display by the guys, we may not play attractive attacking football but I’ll take anti-football over losing anyday.

    • If someone told you ahead of the game that Altidore and Besler would get hurt, and Bradley would give the ball away every time he touched it (at least until the last 20), what would you have predicted for a scoreline?

      Pretty cool we could gut out a win with all that going against us. And then there looked like nagging muscle stuff for Cameron and Bedoya, too. Really remarkable we got the three points.

      • So, with Altidore going off with a hamstring injury. Besler appearing to go off with a hamstring injury. Johnson and Bedoya (any others?) looking strained… are we worried that Klinsmann’s hyper-fitness training may have had some detrimental effects?

      • Yep. One and you could chalk that up to bad luck. Nearly half our field players, and something wasn’t done right.

      • Cameron was flexing his leg late in the second half, Johnson looked completely gassed despite not going forward much. Really wonder what the deal is with the fitness.

      • Johnson got his ankle caught under the 2 feet of the Ghana player on that bad tackle.. that wasn’t a fitness issue when he was grabbing his leg

      • It could be a combination of over training and the high humidity. It’ll be interesting to see the adjustments the team will make to cope.

      • It was the humidity, plain and simple. A game like that and you’re dying out there after 45 mins and sometimes earlier. Has more to do with salt loss than training. We should be increasing our levels of salt at the training tables, no joke.

      • With an opening win vs Ghana, of all teams, I think any discussion of JK’s constantly predicted but weirdly never come-to-pass failure can probably be put on hold.

      • They are Africans. Which means they are pretty used to this sort of high humidity, high heat environments.

    • Yes, it’s a relief and a HUGE win, but we have to do better than this. I dont want to root on a Greece, and I shouldnt have to. Undoubtedly the early goal played a role, but this was among the most negative I have seen the USMNT play. Inexcusable, and we were fortunate.

      Way too much respect given to Ghana (we didnt play like this the last two times we faced them, why now?), and very poor passing and lack of posession, and lack of explosiveness/precision/energy in counter attacks. Having said that, to not play well and still win is tremendous and I fully expect Bradley et al to play much better next time.

      They better, because playing like this is actually ironically a step back, and we wont last long.

      • Inexcusable may be harsh, but it wasnt exactly inspiring. We were VERY close to having a much different discussion. Trust me, I’m ecstactic we pulled it out — ran around yelling like a maniac when Brooks scored — but I believe we can do better, and frankly was surprised and disappointed with how we played for most of the game.

        But despite all the issues, this could be the start of something special. I believe in this team, just as I did beforehand. They sure like to make it as nervewracking and dramatic as possible!

      • Agreed! We had Ghana for five minutes after Dempsey’s goal gasping for breath. After another five minutes of backpassing on our part, they realized the next goal wasn’t coming and took over nearly all the momentum. The last 15 minutes we improved but frankly we were VERY lucky to leave with 3 points. We MUST play better with crisper passing if we want another point in this tournament.

      • “Inexcusable” is too harsh. We won a _very_ difficult game, and had the lead for all but about 5 minutes. But yeah, passing was bad, and we can and need to do better vs Portugal, for sure.

      • You got it right. When is the last time the US played this badly? Maybe when they lost to Honduras in Honduras, but I think even then they played better. However, when all is said and done, the only thing that matters is the two goals and the three points. Still, I think to advance we will need to play better than this. Fortunately, Portugal looked pretty bad and may be way over rated.

      • That humidity killed our players. Point blank, that was the number one problem, and unless we start taking salt tabs or increasing the levels of sodium at the training tables, this will happen again. Need to absorb the water!

      • You have to look at the circumstances. When the US had all their horses they were controlling the run of play. Then they loose their target forward and the other forward had breathing issues stemming from a broken nose. The US also had to burn a second sub on a CB at halftime.

        It’s pretty impressive they held on for so long when they effectively lost their attack 35 minutes into the match. They could have easily fallen apart like they did against Brazil in the ’09 Confederation Cup.

      • You must think we were playing San Diego State and not a team that , on a given night could be a problem for anyone and could beat most.

        You missed a great victory. Too bad.

      • STX has it right. Dempsey and Bacon were invisible when Jozy went out. Ghana were able to key on MB after that.

      • Good points. It’s one thing to say that Bradley had a bad game, but another to say *why* his game was bad. He was crowded, overrun, and exhausted – and never stopped going. Still, it seemed that his passing was off all night.

        I will have to re-watch the pre-Tragedy of Altidore’s Hamstring minutes to see how Bradley’s passing looked.

      • Totally agree. The worst I’ve seen the US look in a long time. A win’s a win (and I think we were due vs Ghana), but a pretty hard performance to feel good about. Hope we play better and more positive vs Portugal.

      • Yep. We looked bad. And this result had little to do with coaching.

        It was due to the fact that, as bad as we looked, the young Ghanaian team looked even worse, dominating a poor side yet committing unforced error after unforced error.

        But let’s face it. Ghana really have been the lower ranked team all along so this isn’t a special win. The losses were special anomalies.

      • look at the lineups and where each teams players play and you’ll realize that’s a bit of a ridiculous statement.

      • “”Ghana really have been the lower ranked team all along so this isn’t a special win.”

        You really believe that?

        It is a special win because it gives the USMNT three points. An awful lot of teams never get that many points during the whole tournament.

        Do you know how many points Spain and Uruguay have after their first games?

        They would trade places with the US in a heartbeat.

      • (we didnt play like this the last two times we faced them, why now?) Um, cause we lost to them the last two times?

    • Any win in the World Cup is a good win. A bigger goal difference would be even better, but there are no bonus points for playing “pretty”/


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