1. Deuce’s Wild. 30 seconds into the match, Clint Dempsey took a pass from Jermaine Jones and slotted it into the back of the net. This was the fastest World Cup goal in U.S. history and set the team up for success against a tricky nemesis in Ghana. Near the end of the first half, under hot and humid conditions in Natal, Dempsey told the U.S. medical staff on the sidelines that he was having trouble breathing. 4 seconds later he got kicked in the face and subsequently broke his nose. He played for 60+ minutes in a physical match with a broken nose and unequivocally helped the U.S. steal the match from Ghana. Deuce’s captaincy can no longer be questioned- the man is tough as nails and leads by example.
2. Unsung heroes. Frankly, this was an ugly match for the U.S. They went long stretches of the game without possession and defended for their lives. Besides the result, there were few positives to take from the performance. Two of those positives were Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones. Much like the match against Nigeria, their defensive work-rate and passing allowed the team to catch their breath and launch the occasional counter-attack. They will need to be dominant again when the U.S. faces Portugal on Sunday.
- A final unsung hero: John Anthony Brooks. The goal will be talked about forever, but I think his ability to come into the match at halftime and help the U.S. shore up the defense in place of an injured Matt Besler was just as important. He showed some of the class that have European scouts raving about his potential.
3. Injury woes. When Jozy Altidore pulled a hamstring in the 21st minute of the match, many U.S. fans thought that their World Cup dreams might be over. There is no replacement for Altidore in the U.S. team, and while Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski are serviceable strikers, Altidore offers the U.S. the physicality to hold up play and get the team forward. His hamstring will most likely keep him out a few weeks, so what formation/lineup will Jurgen Klinsmann pick without Jozy available? Here are a few options.
- Matt Besler also pulled a hammy which is thankfully much less severe. He should be able to play against Portugal.
- Dempsey will be fit to play with his broken nose against Portugal.
Coming up next: USA v. Portugal, Sunday at 6 pm EST on ESPN
- With a win, the U.S. advances out of the group. A draw puts the U.S. in great position to advance as well.
- Portugal will play the match without (possibly) three key players: Pepe (red card), Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao (injuries). Cristano Ronaldo will also, most likely, not be 100% healthy.
- Here’s a preview of the match from the Washington Post.
- Crazy watch parties. GO WATCH THIS MATCH WITH THE AMERICAN OUTLAWS IN YOUR AREA. In Nebraska, here are two stellar options:
- AO Lincoln will gather at Barry’s Bar on Sunday and will have The Killigans play pre-game. The Lincoln chapter expects up to 1,300 people, so get there early.
- AO Omaha will gather at Barrett’s and will expect a similar turnout.
Personal note: U.S. Soccer used a message I sent to the team on a banner in their training ground in Sao Paulo FC stadium. It’s an honor for me to be in Brazil with the team (I wish I was there in person, but I digress).