So - that happened.
Wow, what sports drama! Such an amazing start, such a run of necessary toughness. Then, a late goal from Ghana and an even later goal from the US for the final result of 2-1. A ton of positives out of that, to be sure, but also some concerns and some negatives, as well as a few questions. Let's discuss, shall we?
The emergence of John Brooks. Amazing what a goal will do for you?
The crowd - y'all did yourselves proud, folks. I bet you knew that, but it is always good to hear that it was apparent to those watching on tv as well.
What a fantastic goal by Dempsey, with good work with Jones and Beasley. And props for taking a shot to the nose and continuing on.
Jermaine Jones, well done. That was a fantastic game for you, sir, and it was great to see.
For much of the rest of the squad not reference below, they did well enough to get the result. Beckerman, Cameron, etc. - well done.
Overall mental toughness. That took a lot of focus and concentration to get that result, and for 99 of 100 minutes, it was good enough to get the win. Unless their bodies let them down, that should be a good sign for the rest of the tournament.
The Bottom Line - three points is three points, and we got them, and Ghana didn't. And we did it showing a resolve that really should start to scare opponents. When dialed in, the USA is never an easy out and always dangerous.
Injuries. I sure hope that the staff are working extra time to find out why we had a rash of hamstring and other musculature issues. The biggest was to Altidore, and that could be a massive loss. But Besler, Cameron and Bedoya all were struggling. That is a LOT of injury issues in only the first game.
Johannsson. I will give a pass to the first half as that was totally unexpected. But surely, make the necessary halftime adjustments to figure out what will be required in the second half, no? I am not at all confident that he can step in and be a starter against Portugal. Maybe time working on some things will give him a better chance to succeed on Sunday.
I never thought I would say this about this game, but Bradley seemed to struggle at times. Here is hoping it was just one game. Considering the athleticism of the Ghanians, maybe it is a bit more understandable. Then again, Portugal and Germany aren't going to be easier to play against.
Brooks - some looseness at the back at times. I feel good that the confidence he will take from the goal, as well as the time to plan on starting against Portugal, will improve his performance. This assumes Besler will be held out of that game.
What is Next
On Sunday, June 22, the US takes on Portugal in a rematch of the 2002 opener for both teams, a shock 3-2 win for the Americans. I doubt that they will have time to think about that as the 4-0 shellacking they took at the hands of the Germans today will leave them no room for anything other than blind focus on winning their second game. They simply have no other choice. Tie or lose and they can likely kiss any reasonable hopes of advancing out of the group out the window.
Brooks will likely replace Besler, Johannsson will probably replace Altidore. Wondolowski might - possible, but unlikely, in my opinion, unless after film review, the staff feel that Johannsson played so poorly that they have no choice. Zusi for Bedoya?
Either way, this is a massive game. A win and the US is basically assured of advancement unless Ghana beats Germany and then Portugal - not likely. As discussed above, though, a tie or a loss and Portugal is in even more trouble than they are in now, which is a lot. So even though they picked up a red card and two injuries of their own, Portugal surely is deeper than the US and will be able to bring someone of quality. Then again, they have to be shaken. Question is how will they respond, and how does the US come out.
Now we get to play the injury list watching game, and the waiting game. Sunday all of a sudden is a long way away, isn't it?
But a gutsy, clutch 2-1 win over a team that has knocked you out of the World Cup twice ain't a bad thing to replay over and over until we get there. Enjoy!