The opening match for the United States Mens National Team in the 2014 World Cup started at 6PM EST. By 6:01 the US had already put an emphatic stamp on the cup that sent shockwaves thundering throughout the states. Clint "Deuce" Dempsey dribbled his way through the left side of the Ghanaian defense and put the ball in the back right side of the net for the fastest World Cup goal ever for the United States. I BELIEVE!
Soccer in America is a bit of an anomaly. As kids in the states a majority of us grow up playing baseball and soccer, only to go on not caring a whole lot about either sport as adults. We want the entertainment, the action, the non-stop rush of American football and basketball. Soccer, well that's just boring. They knock the ball around the pitch for 90 minutes with one or two goals, if we're lucky. Why would I want to sit through that? They flop, whine, and roll around on the ground with fake injuries, getting carried off in stretchers for a bruised knee. Yea I get it, but have you ever watched the NBA?
Soccer players may never be as tough as hockey players or as ready and willing to take on pain as football players but it's no walk in the park. Did you see Dempsey's nose?! Our Captain took a vicious kick to the face in the 31st minute last night, breaking his nose. He came back on the field a minute later battered and bloodied and struggled to breath the rest of the match, but played through it. Now that's American!
In last night's World Cup match vs. Ghana it took the US all but 32 seconds to register their first goal of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The fifth fastest goal in World Cup history according to FIFA. Before the excitement of the first World Cup game had even settled I was screaming at ear drum breaking decibels!
It was a match that epitomized America. We struggled for possession and turned the ball over, we let the aggressiveness of Ghana attack our net. But we persevered, we were resilient, we attacked early, got pushed back but kept on fighting. With our capitan bloodied and our top goal scorer sidelined we made history.
"No, it wasn't progressive or new. But I don't care. It was American. It was who we are. It was beautiful." -Alexi Lalas
With attack after attack from Ghana it seemed inevitable that sooner or later the Black Stars would sneak one past Tim Howard and tie it up. Howard played out of his mind, the heart and soul of the Americans, he kept the Ghanaian push back from the 1st minute up until that crushing 82nd minute. Ghana means "warrior king" and they certainly battled hard to fight their way back. A beautiful back-heel pass from Asamoah Gyan to Andrew Ayew gave Ayew an open shot off his left foot that found its way past Howard. 1-1.
It was crushing, deflating, heartbreaking. After battling so hard defensively to keep the Black Stars at bay the game was knotted at 1, with only 8 minutes from stoppage time. Would the team who knocked us out of the last 2 World Cups hurt us again?
Enter John Brooks.
4 minutes later the 21-year old Berlin born Brooks etched his name in history. A corner from sub Graham Zusi found the head of sub John Brooks and he headed it into the back of the net! USA USA USA USA!! The first substitute to ever score a goal for the United States in 30 World Cup games over 84 years! Game, set, match! He was as awe-shocked as everyone else, falling to the ground, overcome with emotion.
If you don't like soccer its ok. But the sport is rapidly growing in popularity in this country, just ask the American Outlaws. If you watched last night's thrilling 2-1 victory over Ghana and still don't like soccer, something is seriously wrong with you! And IF you didn't watch, are you American?!
Association football, futbol, soccer, whatever you want to call it it IS the biggest sport in the world. From tiny video clubs in Liberia, Africa to viewing parties under the Manhattan Bridge in New York everyone around the world is tuned it. The World Cup is a beautiful thing.
The United States continues its group play on Sunday at 6PM as we face Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. The match will be played at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.