The United States defeated rival Ghana 2-1 in their World Cup opener tonight, Monday, June 16, after some late magic from U.S. substitute, John Brooks, but an injury to striker Jozy Altidore could prove costly going forward in the tournament.
The United States opened fast, as Clint Dempsey got loose from the Ghana defense line and put the ball into the back of the net only 32-seconds into the game - the sixth-fastest goal in World Cup history, and fastest ever by the U.S. team.
But Ghana found their footing ten minutes into the match and threatened to score on multiple occasions. Culminating on an Asamoah Gyan rocket late in the first half that was saved brilliantly by U.S. goalkeeper, Tim Howard.
Despite the early goal and halftime lead, all the buzz circulating around the media at the end of the first 45 minutes was that of the Altidore injury and an apparent broken nose suffered by Clint Dempsey after an errant tackle. Dempsey was able to come back into the game, but Altidore suffered a strained hamstring and his return to the tournament is questionable.
Altidore will be examined tomorrow to determine the extent of his injury.
In the second half the U.S. was just trying to hold on, as Ghana went on the full attack, trying to capitalize on another U.S. injury suffered by defensemen Matt Besler late in the first half that kept him out of the rest of the game.
With Asamoah and Ghana firing at will in the second half, it was up to Howard and the U.S. midfielders to try and keep the ball out of Ghana's hands, and they did so with little success; as Ghana outshot the U.S. 18-8, and had possession for over 60% of the game.
Despite the inability of the U.S. to keep possession of the ball, the U.S. remained ahead 82 minutes into the match. But a late goal by Ghana's forward, Andrew Ayew, drew the African nation even with the United States.
However, the U.S. were not to be denied on this evening, as a brilliant John Brooks header from a corner kick in the 86th minute of the game put the U.S. up 2-1 for good.
With three points the United States is now tied for first in their group, but any advantage the U.S. seemed to have in their next game against Portugal after the dismissal of the Portuguese star defender, Pepe, with a red card in their earlier game, seems to have dissipated with the injury to Altidore and the possible injuries to Besler and Dempsey as well.
The U.S. plays their next game Sunday, June 22, against Portugal at 6:00 PM EST.