USMNT: Third time is the charm

The USMNT came into Monday’s match against Ghana with the hopes of a nation riding on their performance.  They came out of the match victorious, fighting for a nation unified by the simple phrase, “I believe that we will win.”

The United States was placed into the “Group of Death” for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and it was crucial that the Americans got a victory from the match.  Their two remaining matches against Portugal and Germany prove to test all that the Americans and Jurgen Klinsmann have.

The 2-1 win against Ghana was absolutely crucial for  the Americans’ tournament.  The result leaves the US level with Germany on points after the Germans dismantled a hapless, 10-man Portugal side.

Three points from the opening match is obviously important, but the scoreline doesn’t do this match justice.  This was about revenge.

The US has played Ghana in three consecutive World Cups, and the first two meetings eliminated the US from the tournament.

This was personal.  This was about pride.  This was to show the world that Americans will win, and they will do it their own way.

Clint Dempsey, the captain and a veteran from the previous Ghana matches, shocked the world by scoring a mere 34 seconds into the match.  He used his incredible skill with the ball to dribble into the box and slotted home off the right post.

It became ugly for the Americans after that however.  Ghana began taking their attack to another level, and potential tragedy struck.  Jozy Altidore, the focal point of the US attack, ran onto a ball, clutched his left leg swiftly and immediately fell to the ground.  The trainers came to his aid right away and he was stretchered off the pitch.

It is unclear if Altidore will return in this tournament, but it is evident how big of an impact he had on the game.  After he was substituted with 21 minutes gone, the US had almost no chances to score.

The US struggled to keep possession and Ghana pressed constantly.  The Americans nervously held onto that lead for 81 minutes, but Dempsey and Matt Besler were added to the injury count before Ghana equalized.

Dempsey was kneed in the face and had a bloody nose.  Besler hurt his hamstring as well and was replaced by John Brooks at half time.

Ghana’s late equalizer came from Andre Ayew and sent a dagger through American fans’ hearts.  Klinsmann called this match a “must win”, and Germany’s annihilation of Portugal cemented that.

The Americans weren’t done though.  The team had slowed down considerably since Dempsey’s opener, but they came alive after Ghana scored.

Eight minutes to go and you need a goal?  Many players would shy away from that and try and retain the draw.  Not this team.  That’s not the American way.  This team didn’t show up to Brazil to play three matches and go home.  This team came to win.

Klinsmann was made to look a tactical genius because two of his substitutes combined for the dramatic winning goal.  Graham Zusi sent in a corner kick in the 86th minute and the young Brooks headed his country to victory over Ghana.

It may have taken three World Cups, but the Americans finally beat their African rivals.  Brooks became the first substitute to ever score in the World Cup for the US.  Dempsey became the sixth-fastest goalscorer in World Cup history.

The US became a team to fear, not because they outplayed Ghana, but because they refused to accept anything less than victory.  They never gave up and persevered through injury and more.  No one has given this team a chance, but now everyone has to give them respect.

The Americans are not the fastest, strongest or most talented bunch, but we will fight.  We will play hard.  I believe that we will win.