Before there was Brazil, there was College Park. The decisive goal in the United States 2-1 win over Ghana was scored by substitute John Brooks, but it was delivered by fellow substitute and former Maryland star Graham Zusi.
“I told him before the World Cup to just enjoy the moment, have fun, cherish it and have no regrets,” said Maryland head soccer coach Sasho Cirovski.
It is that kind of support and advice that helped prepare Zusi for his World Cup moment. Zusi is not shy about seizing control. At Maryland with Cirovski as his coach Zusi won two NCAA championships and as a professional he helped guide Sporting Kansas City to a league title with a win at MLS Cup 2013.
- Major League Soccer gets an assist for the win. Full credit must be given to John Brooks for his finish and he is one of five German-American players on the U.S. World Cup roster. The influence of players who developed their soccer skills overseas has made a difference, but MLS and often maligned college soccer is still a big part of the American’s success. In addition to Zusi’s contribution, Clint Dempsey scored the game’s first goal. He is from the small east Texas town of Nacogdoches and the only way he ends up in Brazil at the World Cup is with a place to play. Dempsey starred at Furman before his three seasons with the New England Revolution led to goal-filled time in England with Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur.
- It was fun and dramatic, but the U.S. needs to be better. Dempsey on twitter said, “We have to do a better job keeping the ball and being more confident with the ball.” The United States walked away with all three points, but Ghana had the better possession. By the second half Dempsey’s goal just: 29 seconds into the match seemed like a distant memory. Ghana was dictated the flow of the game and the U.S. was struggling to make connections to sustain possession. Michael Bradley did not have his best game, but what he lacked in offensive creativity he made up for in helping to slow Ghana through midfield in the game’s closing minutes. The loss of Jozy Altidore to a hamstring injury in the first half also contributed to the lack of possession by the U.S. With Altidore out the United States lost a strong target to play through and hold the ball.
Not that it was a wild prediction, but I called the 2-1 victory over Ghana. It was my belief that it would take two goals to win. With the exception of the dreadful Nigeria/Iran this has been an open tournament and it should continue that way.
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