Photo by Perry McIntyre/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
NATAL, Brazil — Two nights ago, John Brooks had a dream that he would score a late game-winning goal.
That dream became a reality on Monday night.
Brooks scored a dramatic, 86th-minute winner to give the U.S. Men’s National Team a 2-1 victory over Ghana in their Group G opener on Monday night. Like in his dream, the 6-foot-4 centerback nodded home a corner kick and it could not have come at a much better time.
The Americans allowed an early lead to slip away four minutes earlier at Arena das Dunas, Andre Ayew punishing the U.S. back line with an authoritative finish at the near post. In that moment, the U.S. looked more like a team that would need to hang on for dear life to at least secure a point than one that could go on to win and grab all three.
It was the latter scenario that ultimately played out thanks to the the 21-year-old defender reliving his recent dream, making for a memorable and special World Cup moment for both the player and the rest of the U.S.
“It’s a great moment for me,” said Brooks, who scored in the 88th minute in his dream. “It’s unbelievable.”
Brooks being on the field at that point in the match came as a result of starting centerback Matt Besler suffering hamstring tightness in his right leg late in the first half. U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said after the match that he went with Brooks over fellow central defender Omar Gonzalez because Brooks has been playing in training as the back-up left centerback and Gonzalez as the back-up right centerback.
With admitted nerves running through the young German-American, Brooks endured an initial rough moment in the 45-minute cameo that cap-tied him to U.S. But he settled in defensively and was key in the Americans’ ability to hold off a Ghana side that bossed possession until late.
His performance will be remembered for the goal that came off a Graham Zusi corner kick, but Brooks’ overall showing also demonstrated why Klinsmann brought him into the U.S.’s World Cup roster over the likes of veterans like Oguchi Onyewu and Clarence Goodson.
“With John, we saw very early that his passing is amazing,” said Klinsmann. “He’s very calm for his age. Obviously, he’s strong in the air because he’s so tall, he has the confidence and he barely plays down so he strives. Positionally, he’s often trying to get in front of his strikers.
“This is what we read. Now we have to figure out if he’s ready for such a big thing like a World Cup already or maybe does it take him now a year or two in his development. We had the feeling – and I talk many times to his coach at his club and his sporting director there – that he’s ready for this.”
So ready that he did not let the pressure of playing in a World Cup prevent him from scoring his first international goal, which he celebrated – barely – by running aimlessly before crumbling to the ground due to being overcome with emotion.
It was a dream come true.
“It was a great moment,” said Brooks. “Couldn’t be better.”
Lowleftarm, are you okay? Please post if you are okay…
that was awesome. everyone was screaming like maniacs. had cousins and old friends texting and whooping it up
“Klinsmann clearly favors his German players. He must be looking forward to 2018. I mean, Brooks? He’s so inexperienced and looked terrible against Ukraine! I can’t believe he was selected ahead of Michael Parkhurst.”
Man, still hating even after that? Maybe you should pick up hockey instead of futbol??
Seems like he’s exhorting others who said such things (note the quotation marks) to come clean now, meaning that your view agrees with his…
I want the 80% of posters who are on the record saying they’d prefer Parkhurst, Ream or Goodson to COME CLEAN!
Me too. It’s surprisingly quiet around here this morning. All the haters who said we wouldn’t get a point, that Klinsmann had no idea what he was doing, that there were too many German-Americans, that Brooks should’ve been left at home, they must all be eating their crows right now.
You’re not reading all of the posts, then.
Klinsmann is now being blamed for (a) over-training the players, (b) letting the game get out of hand, even though multiple players have always said it’s almost worse when you score so quickly, (c) not bringing Boyd, and (d) not having the tactical acumen to change the game.
It’s amazing how people can’t let the little things go.
I know, how can people keep expecting more, asking Klinsmann to move from his comfort zone, and stretch himself, to be come better, never get complacent, play attractive football, be the fittest team out there?
Oh yeah, because that is what the man himself has been preaching the last three years.
We won right? Just checking.
No joke. My biggest take-away from this game is that we defeated our nemesis with our best player having a poor game (by his standards).
Best player having a terrible night AND… half our field players having muscle problems, plus another one playing with a broken nose. It’s an absolute miracle we were able to pull this off.
The ego is an incredible thing. For some or many, the need to be right far outweighs their rooting interest. Yeah for me.
I said all along he shouldve taken Boyd over Wondo and Donovan or B davis.
Maybe Ill eat crow if any of those two players do something
Slowleftarm must have smashed his TV. German-Americans had big contributions to this victory: Jones is a strong candidate for the MOTM, Fab Johnson did well and Brooks scored the game winning goal.
I will come clean. I thought parkhurst was an all around cover guy with champions league experience….and I wanted ream to have a fair shake. I was wrong…and will continue to be wrong. :). Amazing goal, and beautiful celebration.
Any of them over Gonzalez though.
He seems injured and god help us if he has to come into a game.
watch him make you eat your words.
Were people really picking Parkhurst as a center back? I thought most people had him over Yedlin and/or Chandler as a right back who could actually play defense.
Part of the Parkhurst pitch was that he is versatile.
How can anyone not love his reaction after he scored…just awesome…
Zusi’s cross was nice! The header was great!!!
I almost cried…almost.
I can still clearly recall the guy in 2010 who was crying after Landon scored
Pretty sure the guy was crying after Bradley’s equalizer not LDs goal in 2010
Don’t remember who scored but do remember the videos of him crying ..lol
Also kind of funny that on the call Darke says “he couldn’t even have dreamt that”
I remember Brooks was one of the names getting the most hate for being included.
Brooks has so much potential and he showed it the last few games in Germany which earned him a ticket.
People who latch onto his play against Ukraine fail to remember that he had just come off a month or so long injury. Of course he was going to be rusty, especially alongside Gooch.
At 21, Brooks is a future big player for us. Him and Packwood are so exciting.
don’t forget Erik Palmer-Brown too.
i don’t (although that makes a much better story).
all i remember is people yelling about green, donovan, and yedlin. brooks was kind of an afterthought at that point.
Nope, people were hardcore wanting clarence and parkhurst
nah, people were bashing Brooks…including Twellman and Lalas (surprise, surprise…)
I was skeptical of his inclusion, but glad to be wrong here. Good for him, and the US!