What a start to group G.
Germany and Portugal got group G underway at the FIFA World Cup. Many soccer fans anticipated this game as being one of the best first round matchups. It may be two of the top five teams in the country, but Germany showed Portugal why they are ranked number two in the world, according to FIFA rankings. Thomas Muller got Germany on the scoreboard by converting a penalty kick in the 12th minute. But he did not stop there. Muller tallied two more goals for Germany, making him the front-runner for the Golden Boot (who also won the Golden Boot in the 2010 World Cup). Germany went on to win the game 4-0.
But the real drama happened in the 37th minute. Portugal’s defender Pepe head butted the German forward and received a red card from the referee. Portugal had to play more than half the game a man down, and Pepe is suspended for the game against the United States. Good for American soccer fans, bad for Portuguese ones.
The other game being played in group G was the Ghana and USMNT game, and what a game it was. It kept soccer fans entertained and on the edge of their seats in the final ten minutes. It also had quite a bit of history being made. Clint Dempsey scored the fastest goal for the United States in World Cup history and John Brooks scored the first goal as a USMNT substitution in a World Cup.
The USMNT finally defeated the Ghana Black Stars, after Ghana knocked the USMNT out of the past two world cups. They got revenge, and earned a needed three points. The USMNT got off to a great start as captain Clint Dempsey beat the Ghana defender and put the ball into the back of the net in just 34 seconds. But the USMNT looked shaky for most of the game, and defended for their lives. And they suffered key injuries. Jozy Altidore went down early in the game with a hamstring injury, and may be out for the rest of the World Cup. This could be problematic for the USMNT because he is the big target up top. He gives the USMNT speed and size. He is not afraid to take on defenders and create chances in the final third. And who is going to start for him? Paging Landon Donovan. Aron Johannsson came on as a sub for Altidore, but did not do much of anything. Jürgen Klinsmann should think about starting Graham Zusi or Chris Wondolowski up top with Dempsey. Central Defender Matt Besler also suffered a hamstring injury, which allowed Brooks to play in the second half.
It looked like the USMNT were going to survive the game with a 1-0 win, until the 82nd minute. Ghana player Andre Ayew beat Tim Howard near post on some great ball movement, and a simple finish. But Brooks saved the day in the 86th minute. The USMNT finally started to push up and attack. Brooks was left unmarked on a corner kick and converted the header off of a perfect ball from Zusi. The USMNT walked away from the match with three points, and Brooks was the American hero.
But think back three months ago. Brooks and the USMNT played terrible in a friendly against Ukraine. Brooks did not even look like he would make the 23-man roster for the World Cup. But Klinsmann believed in him and chose Brooks over some veteran American defenders. Brooks came up huge after Besler went down with an injury, and scored the winning goal for the USMNT.
Monday was a great kickoff to the start of group G, and it is only going to get better. Germany and Ghana play on Saturday and the USMNT will face Portugal on Sunday. With the win over Ghana, the USMNT has a higher chance of advancing out of the group stage. If they beat Portugal, they have a great chance of making the final 16 teams. Lets just hope Altidore and Besler are okay.