World Cup 2014: John Brooks' American dream comes true as wasteful Ghana lose their way

USA recovered after being pegged back by Ghana

Natal

Theirs was a night that would have played well back in the United States. There was an early goal, a dramatic finish and plenty of wounded heroes. It was almost cinematic.

They last time the US came to Brazil for a World Cup, they pulled off one of the sporting shocks of the century against an England team who wondered what they were doing on a football pitch.

Now, despite the fact they reached a World Cup quarter-final a dozen years ago, there is still some of that condescension towards “soccer”. As he prepared to face the US, the Ghana midfielder André Ayew remarked: “If we are fit and 100 per cent, there is no way we are not going to win this game.”

Read more: Ghana 1 USA 2 match report
US fans go crazy

However, Ghana were not fully fit – neither Kevin-Prince Boateng nor Michael Essien started in Natal. They were also a long way from 100 per cent when it came to taking the many chances they created in a vibrant if intensely physical game that saw Jozy Altidore pull a hamstring, Clint Dempsey play out the match with a broken nose and centre-half Matt Besler (hamstring) failing to finish.

 

Even after Ayew scored a beautifully worked equaliser with eight minutes to go and, with the momentum flowing their way, Ghana looking good for at least a draw in the Arena das Dunas, the Americans struck back.

“I thought our maturity and resilience were awesome,” remarked Tim Howard. The Everton keeper is 35, Dempsey is 33 but the rest are very much younger and though they qualified more impressively than the other World Cup entrants from North and Central America, Mexico and Costa Rica, they were expected to be the first to perish in a group of death.

Clint Dempsey scored the opener Clint Dempsey scored the opener  

John Brooks is 21 and, with charming naivety, he had announced to the squad that he dreamt he had scored in the 80th minute against Ghana and the United States had won the game. His dream was six minutes out, but he was correct when he forecast in his sleep that the goal would come from a header executed at a corner.

Premier League football may fill his dreams, with Everton, Aston Villa and Newcastle monitoring his admittedly erratic progress with Hertha Berlin. Brooks has never actually lived in the country he plays for, having been born in Berlin to an American serviceman father – one of five members of Jürgen Klinsmann’s squad that have German roots.

Nevertheless, amid all the euphoria generated by a visit to the US dressing room from Vice-President Joe Biden, there was also some anxiety. Klinsmann  joked that he wondered what a fired-up Cristiano Ronaldo might do when they face Portugal in Manaus on Sunday.

“We have got to keep possession better,” said man-of-the-match Dempsey, who led by example. “There were times when we allowed Ghana far too much of the ball.” His manager admitted on occasion he was screaming at his players from the touchline not to squander possession. Ghana aimed 21 shots at Howard’s goal, the third-highest total of this World Cup so far and with more composure they might have broken through decisively.

With the Germans facing them in Fortaleza on Saturday, there appears no credible way back for Africa’s best organised and most obviously talented team. “We lost focus and lost concentration. We have only ourselves to blame,” said Asamoah Gyan, who missed with two athletic headers in front of the noisiest and most colourful supporters of this tournament.

Essien attempted to console them by announcing that at 31 he would attempt to play on to take Ghana to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This one, however, may be over for Ghana before it has properly begun.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'