Late goal lifts U.S. past Ghana
Ghana took the field in Natal to face the U.S., hoping to become the first team to beat a single opponent in three straight World Cups. The Americans found a way to prevent that from happening, however, doing so in dramatic fashion.
The United States got off to a blazing start as Clint Dempsey gave the Americans an early lead 29 seconds into the game with the fastest goal for the U.S. in World Cup history -- and fifth-fastest overall in the tournament's history. It was the 12th goal scored in the opening minute of a World Cup game and the first since Hakan Sukur of Turkey put one in against South Korea in 2002, which was also the fastest ever at 11 seconds).
- Dempsey becomes the first player from a CONCACAF nation to score a goal in the first minute of a World Cup match and has now scored three of the U.S.'s four opening-minute goals across all competitions since 1999.
- In the first 10 minutes, the U.S. had 30 touches in the attacking half of the field to Ghana's 13. But that's where Ghana took over on the attack, as the Black Stars took a 142-43 advantage in touches in the attacking half from the 11th minute on to the end of the half. The U.S. held tight on defense as Ghana pressed hard for the game-tying goal, ending the half with 45 touches in its defending penalty area compared to Ghana's 17.
- The U.S. did manage to end the half holding that 1-0 lead, marking the first time since the 2002 round of 16 against Mexico (nine matches) that the United States held a lead at halftime. In that game, the Americans led 1-0 at halftime and went on to beat Mexico 2-0 while advancing to the quarterfinals. The United States trailed at halftime in each of its previous two World Cup losses to Ghana in 2006 and '10.
- Ghana continued to press offensively coming out of the half, finally managing to tie it up with Andre Ayew's 82nd-minute goal. Four of Ghana's 10 World Cup goals have come after the 80th minute and it was the 11th goal that the U.S. has allowed in the 80th minute or later.
- Jurgen Klinsmann's halftime substitution, bringing World Cup debutant John Brooks on for an injured Matt Besler, proved to be a decision that wouldn't show its value until 41 minutes later.
- Brooks proved his value as sub by scoring the game-winning goal in the 86th minute, making him the first-ever American substitute to score a World Cup goal. It was the 21-year old's first goal for the U.S. and made him the third-youngest World Cup-debut goal scorer in USA history.
Brooks is the youngest American to score at the World Cup since Landon Donovan in 2002 and the first American to score in his World Cup debut since Clint Mathis in 2002. It was the fourth-latest U.S. goal in World Cup history and made him the youngest player to score in the 2014 tournament.
- This win is also more than a feel-good story of redemption for the U.S. Under the current format, 85 percent of teams have advanced to the knockout round after winning their opener (39 of 46). The United States has advanced in all four previous World Cups when winning or drawing its group opener.
ESPN Soccer Power Index gave the U.S a 36.8 percent chance to advance heading into the game, but Monday's win gives the Americans a 63.1 percent chance to reach the knockout round, second only to Germany's commanding 97.5 percent chance to advance from Group G.