There is no possible way that Team USA’s first 2014 World Cup match could have gone any better. They defeated a familiar foe in Ghana in spectacular fashion, which makes their next two matches in the Group of Death seem that much more intriguing. With so many storylines to choose from, one of the more interesting ones has to be how 21-year-old John Brooks’ dream about scoring the winning goal in his first World Cup match came to fruition.
The German-born defender had a dream Saturday night that he scored in the 80th minute against Ghana. He may have got the time wrong (he scored in the 86th minute), but his header off of Graham Zusi’s corner kick was accurate.
As great as the goal was, it was even more awesome to see Brooks’ reaction to the score. He looked to be the most shocked player on the field, which makes it that much better. It was a genuine reaction to an unbelievable finishing touch on a contest that could prove to be the confidence booster USMNT needs to advance.
To think that Brooks was almost left off the USMNT roster is devastating to imagine, especially now that he has become a household name in the United States. With all the flak that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann took for leaving veteran Landon Donovan off the 23-man roster, he proved that he just might know what he is doing after all with the inclusion of Brooks. Not to mention, putting him in the game when Matt Besler began to deal with a potential hamstring injury.
“We saw very early that his passing is amazing, he’s very calm for his age, and obviously strong in the air because he’s so tall,” Klinsmann said, according to ESPN. “Now we had to figure out is he ready for such a big thing like a World Cup already, or does it maybe take another year or two in his development. We had the feeling, and I talked many times to his coach at his club and the sporting director there, we had the feeling he’s ready for this.”
The biggest decision now will be if Brooks had a strong enough impact to be placed in the starting lineup. If Besler has to sit out against Portugal, which looks like a very good possibility, Klinsmann’s decision will be made for him, as Brooks will have to play the entire match. The good news is he clearly has what it takes to be a difference maker.