Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Rustenburg Redemption: America Wins

Tonight when Asamoah Gyan and the rest of the Ghana Black Stars team roll into their beds in their hotel room and shut their eyes, the last thought that will pass through their heads is....

As a sports blogger, it's common to use Shawshank Redemption metaphors for overcoming adversity in a season or a game. Sometimes you get knocked down. Sometimes you have to spend a month in solitary. Sometimes you have to crawl through a river of shit just to come out clean on the other side. Sometimes you have to get busy livin' or get busy dyin'.

The United States had their perfect shot at redemption. Ghana had knocked them out of the previous two World Cups. Portugal utterly embarrassed themselves against Germany earlier in the day with the Germans throttling them to the tune of 4-0. With Portugal sitting at the bottom of the table with a -4 Goal Differential (the first tiebreaker), the US wasted no time as Captain America Clint Dempsey scored just 34 seconds into the game.

Jurgen Klinsmann celebrated like a 10-year old. And it was awesome.

After that initial foray, not much happened. Ghana started to take over the game and the United States hung in thanks to some brilliant goaltending by Tim Howard. Ultimately, the US couldn't hold the line as Ghana controlled possession nearly 60% of the game and finally broke through with an equalizer in the 82nd minute of the match. 

Just three minutes later, the US earned a corner kick and Graham Zusi delivered a ball that somehow made its way through the defense to connect with the 21-year old cranium of John Anthony Brooks.

Six months ago he couldn't even legally drink. Now he scored one of the biggest goals in American soccer history.

After 5 breathless minutes of stoppage time, that was all she wrote. The US now enters a huge game against Portugal on Sunday. The win over Ghana exorcizes the demons of 2006 and 2010 and could mark a huge turning point for US soccer. It won't be easy with the two remaining group games against two of the top five teams in the World, but with 3 points already in our pocket, there is hope of advancing to the knockout stage.

And in the Group of Death, with Portugal's sound defeat, there is life for the United States. Now, there's only one thing left to do.

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