USA-Ghana Live: John Brooks Dramatically Wins 2014 World Cup Opener For Team USA

Fabian JohnsonFinal, 2-1 United States: It’s over in Natal. The United States has beaten Ghana in its 2014 World Cup opener.

U.S. players and fans are celebrating an improbable, historic victory. Just when it looked like the United States either would have to settle for a draw or suffer a defeat, Brooks headed home one of the two scoring chances the Americans created in the second half. It was a classic “smash-and-grab” victory.

The result probably was the only pretty thing about this game from an American standpoint. Ghana controlled the game despite conceding the early goal. Team USA didn’t play anything resembling its best soccer, and the victory came at a cost, as at least two starters suffered injuries that could potentially rule them out of the World Cup. But like Dempsey’s disfigured nose, the result was beautiful in itself.

The United States joins Germany atop Group G with three points. Team USA plays Portugal on Sunday. It can shock the world and escape the group of death with a victory over Cristiano Ronaldo and Co.

Ghana faces Germany on Saturday, needing to rebound from this massive disappointment.

That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.

90th minute + 4, 2-1 United States: The Americans are holding on for dear life deep into second-half stoppage time.

89th minute, 2-1 United States: Brooks plays the hero role at the other end, making a crucial block.

86th minute, 2-1 United States: Brooks heads home a corner kick, and the U.S. is back in front.

Zusi drove a corner kick into the goal-mouth, and Brooks headed it into the goal with power and accuracy.

Watch Brooks’ goal >>

82nd minute, 1-1: Ghana scores a late equalizer.

Ayew passed to Gyan at the edge of the U.S. penalty area. With a clever back heel, Gyan passed it back to Ayew, who beat Howard with a left-footed shot.

79th minute, 1-0 United States: Johnson sets ups Dempsey at the top of the Ghana penalty area. The USA forward spins and shoots, but the goalkeeper makes a save.

77th minute, 1-0 United States: Zusi comes on for Bedoya, as Klinsmann makes his third and final substitution.

Zusi brings his fresh legs and good passing sense to the U.S. effort.

Ghana also is making a change. Adomah replaces Atsu.

72nd minute, 1-0 United States: Essien comes on for Rabiu in Ghana’s second substitution of the game.

66th minute, 1-0 United States: The U.S. is under intense pressure, as Ghana continues to threaten Howard’s goal.

Ghana is dominating possession. As was the case in the first half, the United States must seize possession — if only to give players a breather and allow them to focus on the attacking aspect of the game for a few minutes.

63rd minute, 1-0 United States: The teams exchange goal-scoring opportunities in an end-to-end sequence.

First, Jones shot from around 30 yards out, forcing Kwarasey to save the knuckling drive.

Gyan had another chance at the other end but couldn’t put the shot on target.

59th minute, 1-0 United States: Ghana makes a substitution. Boateng comes on for Jordan Ayew.

58th minute, 1-0 United States: Gyan heads another attempt at goal, but Howard makes a diving save this time.

56th minute, 1-0 United States: Muntari finds Gyan with a cross into the goal-mouth, but the Ghana striker puts his header over the crossbar.

55th minute, 1-0 United States: Muntari shoots from distance and misses — but not by much.

51st minute, 1-0 United States: Ghana has dominated possession and territory in the early minutes of the second half.

46th minute, 1-0 United States: The United States made a substitution at halftime. Brooks replaced Besler on the back line.

Besler appeared to suffer a hamstring injury late in the first half.

Halftime, 1-0 United States: An action-packed first half comes to an end with the United States in front.

The United States took the lead early on, but the rest of the half confirmed that Ghana is as difficult an opponent as most expected it to be. Ghana controlled possession throughout and created a couple of dangerous scoring opportunities toward the end of the half. But the United States is executing its game plan well and making it difficult for Ghana to tie the game.

The United States remains compact in defense and looks to counter-attack with speed. It’s working so far, as the Americans have unbalanced the Ghana defense with their quick transitions. However, Altidore’s injury put a damper on an otherwise positive first half.

45th minute +1, 1-0 United States: Jones and Muntari have a small tussle after the Ghanaian midfielder makes a tough slide tackle on his American counterpart. The referee separates the players and declines to caution either one.

45th minute, 1-0 United States: The fourth official indicates that there will be five minutes of added time in the first half.

36th minute, 1-0 United States: Dempsey is back in the game after receiving treatment.

33rd minute, 1-0 United States: Now Dempsey is down on the turf.

Dempsey was jumping in the air with Boye, and the Ghana defender kicked his leg into the air and connected with the face of the U.S. captain and goal scorer.

32nd minute, 1-0 United States: Howard makes a fine save on Gyan’s shot.

30th minute, 1-0 United States: Rabiu is cautioned for elbowing Beckerman during an aerial challenge.

26th minute, 1-0 United States: Ghana continues to have more possession, but the United States remains dangerous on the couter-attack.

The Americans are making quick transitions and attacking Ghana’s defense with speed.

23rd minute, 1-0 United States: Johannsson enters the game, replacing the injured Altidore.

21st minute, 1-0 United States: Altidore is down on the turf with an apparent hamstring injury.

Atidore was sprinting for a ball that came over the top of the defense and grabbed his hamstring before falling on the ground. This could rule him out not only for the rest of the game but also for the rest of the tournament.

19th minute, 1-0 United States: The U.S. creates a great scoring chance off of a counter-attack, but Boye blocks Altidore’s sliding shot.

11th minute, 1-0 United States: Ghana is enjoying better possession in the early minutes and forcing the game into the United States’ half. But Team USA is defending well in its final third, preventing Ghana from creating any scoring chances.

The United States must win the ball and use it wisely at some point or risk losing the early advantage Dempsey gave it.

Naturally, the U.S. fans inside the Estadio das Dunas are rocking after Dempsey’s goal.

Fifth minute, 1-0 United States: Dempsey’s goal came after 34 seconds, according to FIFA’s official timer. It’s the sixth fastest goal in World Cup history.

First minute, 1-0 United States: Dempsey scores. It’s a dream World Cup opening for the United States.

Jones flicked a pass to Dempsey, who has darting toward the Ghana penalty area, and the U.S. captain nutmegged Boye, took one more touch and slotted his shot past Kwarasey.

See Dempsey’s goal >>

First minute, 0-0: The Group G game between the United States and Ghana is underway.

Kickoff: It’s hot and humid in Natal, Brazil.

Players must manage their exertion levels in these conditions. The team that has more long spells of possession early on will have an advantage late in the game.

The anthems are done. The game will start momentarily.

Pregame: The United States lines up with the same starting 11 that beat Nigeria in the final game of its “Send-Off Series.”

Beasley and Johnson have a big responsibility. They must cover Ghana’s speedy wingers, Atsu and Andre Ayew, when they enter the wide areas and hand them off to the center backs and holding midfielders when they tuck inside. Communication will be at a premium.

Surprisingly, Boateng and Essien aren’t in Ghana’s starting 11. Ghana head coach James Akwasi Appiah may use the veteran Essien as a late-game substitute who can manage the end of the contest. Boateng is one of Ghana’s big-name players, and it’s not clear why he isn’t in the starting lineup.

5:30 p.m.: Here are the lineups:

United States

Tim Howard (1), goalkeeper
DaMarcus Beasley (7), left back
Matt Besler (5), center back
Geoff Cameron (20), center back
Fabian Johnson (23), right back
Jermaine Jones (13), midfielder
Kyle Beckerman (15), midfielder
Michael Bradley (4), midfielder
Alejandro Bedoya (11), midfielder
Clint Dempsey (8), forward
Jozy Altidore (9), striker

Substitutes

Brad Guzan (12), goalkeeper
Nick Rimando (22), goalkeeper
Omar Gonzalez (3), defender
John Anthony Brooks (6), defender
Tim Chandler (21), defender
DeAndre Yedlin (2), defender
Brad Davis (14), midfielder
Graham Zusi (19), midfielder
Mikkel Diskerud (10), midfielder
Julian Green (16), forward
Aaron Johannsson (9), striker
Chris Wondolowski (18), striker

Ghana

Adam Kwarasey (12), goalkeeper
Kwadwo Asamoah (20), left back
Jonathan Mensah (19), center back
John Boye (21), center back
Dnaiel Opare (4), right back
Christian Atsu (7), midfielder
Sulley Muntari (11), midfielder
Andre Ayew (10), midfielder
Mohammed Rabiu (17), midfielder
Jordan Ayew (13), striker
Asamoah Gyan (3), striker

Substitutes

Stephen Adams (1), goalkeeper
Fatawu Dauda (16), goalkeeper
Samuel Inkoom (2), defender
Rashid Sumaila (15), defender
Harrison Afful (23), defender
Michael Essien (5), midfielder
Acquah Afriyie (6), midfielder
Emmanuel Badu (8), midfielder
Albert Adomah (14), midfielder
Mubarak Wakaso (22), midfielder
Kevin Prince Boateng (9), midfielder
Majeed Waris (18), forward

5 p.m. ET: Six months of intense preparation have led to this point.

On Monday, The United States plays Ghana in its opening game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the Estadio das Dunas in Natal, Brazil. The teams have have played each other in the previous two World Cups (Ghana won both meetings), and the Group G clash gives both a chance to start this World Cup journey positively.

Ghana’s squad includes a few players who play at big European clubs as well as some holdovers from its 2010 World Cup team, which reached the quarterfinal of that tournament. But Ghana also has young and inexperienced players who are untested at this level.

The same can be said about the United States squad, but head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has built and nurtured this team with infectious enthusiasm. This United States national team is perhaps the most talented and deepest group of players to ever represent the U.S. at the World Cup. Klinsmann believes in them, and they believe in each other. We’ll soon find out whether that is enough to beat one of Africa’s strongest teams in a game that it simply must win.

The game kicks off at 6 p.m. Join us right here for all the action from the Estadio das Dunas.

Watch: USA can escape “Group of Death” >>

Analysis of USA’s World Cup preparations >>

Analysis of USA’s World Cup squad >>

Group G preview >>

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