Wednesday, the U.S. Men's National Team (USMNT) won Best Moment at the ESPYs for its 2-1 victory against Ghana in the team's opening group match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Natal, Brazil. Unexpectedly, the USA advanced from Group play but were eliminated by Belgium 2-1 in the Round of 16, known as the Knockout Round, despite the heroics of goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Captain Clint Dempsey scored the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history when he tallied just 30 seconds into the match, but Ghana tied the game in the 82nd minute. Young USMNT defender John Brooks scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute to give the U.S. the dramatic victory after the tough match in which the USA battled throughout. The victory marked the first for the USA against Ghana, which had defeated the U.S. in the previous two World Cups.
Despite being drawn into the Group of Death where the USA faced Champion Germany, Portugal and Ghana, Dempsey never faltered in his belief in the U.S. squad.
"You’ve gotta go there and be at your best, you’ve got to bring your best," Dempsey told me. "When we get to the tournament we have to be hitting top form and if you get the points out of the game, you take every game as it comes and make the most of it and put yourself in a position to get out of the group. And if we get out of the group, it will be seen as a success and and when you get into the playoff stages and after that, then anything can happen. But you have to go into it with that mindset."
Dempsey accepted the ESPY for Best Moment along with seven of his teammates live on stage at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. Joining Dempsey on stage were Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Nick Rimando, Chris Wondolowski and DeAndre Yedlin.
Other nominees in the category were Mariano Rivera's final game and Kevin Durant's MVP acceptance speech.
The U.S. Men's National Team also won Best Moment at the 2010 ESPY Awards for the dramatic 1-0 victory against Algeria in its final group match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The ESPY Awards have been given out annually since 1993 and are determined by fan vote.