by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 16th 2014)
Jürgen Klinsmann got the start he wouldn’t even have dreamed of. First his team scored the 5th fastest goal in World Cup history and a late winner. After just 31 seconds the USA’s captain Clint Dempsey cut into the area on the left past John Boye scoring off the opposite post. Jermaine Jones got the assist to put the USA into a shock lead.
Marseilles’ André Ayew equalised with the outside of his left foot after a sublime back-heeled assist by Al-Ain’s Asamoah Gyan after 82 minutes. Kwadmo Asamoah’s pass from the left wing found Gyan. However, three minutes later right-back Fabian Johnson’s persistence won a corner. Substitute John Brooks rose highest to head the USA into a late lead from Graham Zusi’s corner. The USA resisted manfully as Ghana chased the game again.
Caught cold in the first minute Ghana had to chase the game finding most joy on the right flank through the raw talent of Christian Atsu. Tim Howard marshalled the American defence well, intercepting at Asamoah Gyan’s feet and making important saves too. And at the other end Sunderland’s misfiring striker – one goal in the season – Jozy Altidore failed to take advantage of excellent work on the right wing by Alejandro Bedoya.
Shortly afterwards Altidore’s World Cup ended as he grimaced in pain having pulled his hamstring. With almost half an hour gone Gyan finally tested Howard. The keeper was equal to the task. Only Jordan Ayew will know how he fluffed an easy chance in first half injury time set up by Atsu. In the second half Ghana chased the match. Kevin-Prince Boateng and Michael Essien were brought on and chances came. Gyan had two headers – one requiring a save from Howard. The pressure increased until the USA’s defence began to buckle. But just when Ghana thought they had the platform to steal the win, the USA won the corner that made Brooks into a hero.
With refereeing an issue in this tournament Jonas Eriksson’s style seemed strange. Jordan Ayew was fortunate to escape a card for tackling Kyle Beckerman from behind. Beckerman, not to be outdone, cynically tripped Kwadmo Asamoah as he was about to shoot. Eriksson played advantage as Atsu shot just wide, but he could have booked Beckerman as he deserved.
Eriksson’s leniency was in evidence again when Sulley Muntari fouled Jones and was accidentally caught in the head as Jones fell. Muntari reacted to it as Jones pleaded his innocence – he was. A talking to sufficed although Muntari deserved a card for the foul and/or his reaction. Klinsmann did his reputation no favours when he indicated that Boye had elbowed Dempsey in the face causing a nose-bleed. He hadn’t. He kicked him in the face. It was unintentional, but his foot should never have been anywhere near that high. It was dangerous play even if it was unintentional.
Ghana were unfortunate not to become Africa’s first team to reach the semi-final in the last World Cup. They will have problems making it out of their group now. Having got nothing from the USA they need to recover quickly a find a way to beat a rampant Germany which thrashed Portugal 4-0 earlier today.
They will also need to hope that other results go their way. A buoyant USA face a demoralised Portugal next. An American win will cause problems and may leave the Black Stars hoping for a favour from Klinsmann’s team against Germany. Meanwhile, the USA must fancy their chances now. If ever Portugal are vulnerable, it is now with or without Cristiano Ronaldo.