Soccer is a funny sport sometimes, there are highs and lows that many of us know about from watching FC Dallas here locally but when the stars align just right, it can be a beautiful thing to see. On Monday in Natal, the stars aligned just right for a stunning and thrilling US win over Ghana.
Clint Dempsey got the party started off early with a goal in the first 30 seconds of the match. A dream start. The US held their shape for the majority of the match despite losing Jozy Altidore to a hamstring injury. Ghana pushed back but the US held their own and came out on top with a header from the most unlikely source, John Anthony Brooks.
Defensive shape holds up
Yes there were some cracks in the lines and Ghana was able to basically run all over the US in this gone. But give credit where it is due to the likes of Geoff Cameron in the middle of the defense. Matt Besler when he was healthy in the first half. Brooks in the second half. The wing backs in Fabian Johnson and DeMarcus Beasley had solid games for the most part. As did Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones in front of them.
I can't stress enough how good Jones and Beckerman were too on the night. Beckerman showed that not only he can hold his own with some of the world's best but that he is possible the best defensive midfielder in the US system at the moment. Look no further than to Real Salt Lake at the moment for proof of this, the moment he left for the US camp, RSL's play took a big dip.
Like I said, there were cracks though. Beasley was routinely getting beat on the wing, which does worry me for the game on Sunday against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. Johnson got beat on his wing a few times as well.
But the shape held up when it needed to. The United States did a good job of making sure not to be too flat at times though both the defense and the middle of the field once Altidore went out. It was one of those bend and not break kind of games that really could have gone bad had things not gone the way they did for Klinsmann's group.
When the attack was flowing, it was really nice
The few times the attack moved the ball well up the field, it was really nice to see. For one, the Dempsey goal was a sight to see over and over again. They caught the Ghanian defense napping from the opening whistle, which was a shocker to see really.
Just the isolation of the Ghanian midfield in this play was something to see too. But to be honest it was all Dempsey. That touch to his right foot, the tap around the Ghanian defender and that finish to the far post. Just a special thing to witness.
The fun thing about this team is that they are pretty damn patient about things in the attack. More so than Klinsmann would like to see out of them but that is just who this team is at the moment. They hold their lines, press when they need to press and kill you on set pieces.
Everything is setting up for the US
I said it going into this group, as did many other people. The US gets a win over Ghana while the Germans beat Portugal and you have everything set up to get out of this group.
The funny thing that happened in the US's favor was seeing just how badly the Germans beat Portugal. 4-0, are you kidding me? That goal differential will come in to play, you can almost count on it. Even if Portugal beats the US on Sunday in Manuas, and Ghana upsets either of the European teams (they won't, but stay with me), that -4 number next to Portugal is going to come up huge.
But we also can't under sell the injuries and suspensions that Portugal picked up as well. While the US have knocks of their own, they have the type of players that can handle the travel from Sao Paulo and Natal to Manaus, to go along with this heat where Portugal does not.
Bring on Sunday folks. This is going to be a fun ride.