World Cup: Important moments, United States games recapped


Matt Antonic, Sports Editor

USA vs GHANA — June 16, 2014

The USA entered its opening match in the Group of Death on a mission; secure 3 points and end break the losing streak to Ghana, who had knocked the Americans out of the last two world cups.

Thirty three seconds in, Midfielder Clint Dempsey sent every American into a complete state of euphoria with the fastest goal of the tournament. For the next 80 minutes, the US net was assaulted on all fronts until Ghana broke through as Andre Ayew slotted home the equalizer to make it 1-1.
American prospects of victory seemed grim until a corner kick was won in the 86th minute.
As midfielder Graham Zusi sent his corner kick in, the relatively unknown substitute John Brooks rose above the pack and beautifully headed the ball home for the winning goal.
The U.S. held off the relentless Ghana siege throughout a seem- ingly eternal stoppage time and secured a vital three points, while ending the Ghana hex in the process.

FIFA Man of the Match — Clint Dempsey

USA vs. PORTUGAL — June 22, 2014

A horrible defensive error by American center-back Geoff Cameron allowed Portuguese Midfielder Nani an easy finish and a 1-0 deficit five minutes in.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones took the loose ball at the top of the box and unleashed a screaming shot into the corner to level the match.
In a chaotic sequence, Zusi found Dempsey in the middle for an ad-libbed finish and a 2-1 lead.
Less than one minute before the final whistle, forward Cristiano Ronaldo, quiet almost all match, sent in a world class cross that found the head of Silvestre Varela and the back of the net to tie the game, salvaging a point for Portugal and breaking American hearts.
The U.S. would now enter the final group match with power- house Germany possibly needing a positive result to advance to the knockout stage.

FIFA Man of the Match — Clint Dempsey

USA vs. GERMANY — June 26, 2014

After the World Cup draw, most Americans held reserved prospects of a win or a draw against Ghana and Portugal. But the match against world-class Germany was essentially tabbed as a loss right from the get-go.
In the pouring rains of Salvador, Brazil, the U.S. team’s future would be decided. The result of the Ghana-Portugal match simul- taneously occurring and the result of the U.S.-Germany match would determine the Americans’ fate.
In an ugly match, Germany dominated possession and chances, but the US refused to break.
German Striker Thomas Muller, the tournament’s leading scorer, finally broke the valiant U.S. defense with a beautiful strike off a rebound in the 55th minute.
The tension rose once again.
Portugal held on for the win, sending the U.S. to the knockout stages for a date with Belgium.

FIFA Man of the Match — Thomas Muller

USA vs. BELGIUM — July 2, 2014

The USA fought, scratched and clawed but could not get the job done against the dark horses of Belgium, losing 2-1 in extra time. Belgium, with a population roughly that of Ohio, was clearly the better side, attacking the U.S. net relentlessly and recording 38 total shots to the USA’s 14.
It took a Herculean effort from U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, who set the World Cup record for saves in a match with 16, to keep the U.S. in the game.
U.S. Striker Chris Wondolowski had the best chance at the very end of regulation, but crushingly missed in front of goal, sending the match to extra time.
Belgium took three minutes before finally breaking through, with midfielder Kevin De Bruyne finding the net. Twelve min- utes later, Striker Romelu Lukaku struck on the counterattack to double the lead. The U.S. refused to surrender, and 19-year-old Midfielder Julian Green pulled a goal back with five minutes to go, but that was all the Americans could muster. The final whistle sent Belgium to the quarter finals.

FIFA Man of the Match — Tim Howard