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USA upsets Ghana in World Cup

Clint Dempsey scores in first minute
Clint Dempsey scores in first minute
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Monday in Natal, Brazil, Clint Dempsey, of the USA National Football Team, scored a golazo at the thirty-second mark in the second game of Group G in the World Cup. The goal set the tone for what would be a historic victory for the USA who will now enjoy a couple of days as the second placed team in their group after Germany’s 4-0 victory over Portugal.

The surprise opening goal was a solo run from the left wing off a throw in and a single pass. Dempsey took the pass in stride into the box and neatly around one marker, then followed in stride with a perfectly angled left-footed shot across goal to the far post for the opening score.

The USA could not have dreamt of a better start but the team’s intensity and energy was palpable and they certainly looked like they would focus and take their chances from the get go. It did not take long for that intensity to translate into purposeful action.

The game continued in a staccato rhythm with Ghana having possession and the USA taking the occasional foray. But for the majority of the time the Americans could not control the ball on their opponent’s half and ended up spending their efforts defending wave after wave of attacks along the wings from the African team.

Several chances ensued for Ghana to a couple for the USA and the former’s chances looked the more dangerous. Ghana always looked more likely to tie the game than the USA to pull off that critical second goal. But the first half ended with the 1-0 score line.

The second half was a repeat of the first with a single difference, the USA believed they were going to win while Ghana expected to but could not find the way to get there. The Americans kept finding the right defensive block or interception when it was most needed and when that ultimate defensive stop was lacking Ghana obliged with a bad header or shot.

But finally, at the 82nd minute, a beautiful play down the left wing found Andre Ayew receiving a brilliant back heel from Asamoah Gyan in the box. Ayew swerved a great left-footed in shot from close in past Tim Howard, to his right, for the score. Ghana 1, USA 1.

From that score on in Ghana looked like the more likely to repeat their feat of the past two World Cups and pull out a 2-1 win. But that was not to happen this time. The Americans had set a single primary objective for themselves this World Cup, win their opener against Ghana. At the 86th minute a corner gave them their golden chance.

Substitute Graham Zusi curled a beautiful right footed cross from the right corner that flew past two opposing would-be headers and dropped perfectly for John Brooks. He headed the ball down powerfully, a textbook header that allowed the unstoppable ricochet to pop up and into the net—USA 2, Ghana 1. The six-month script was becoming history.

The whistle could not come soon enough for the USA who had to suffer through a few more sustained attacks from their adversaries. But in the end the victory was well-earned via a gutsy performance that pushed the fourteen players used to their fullest.

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