Game day is finally here. After years of preparation, the U.S. Men's National Team gets their World Cup journey underway tonight in Natal with their group stage opener against Ghana. Jurgen Klinsmann and his players have prepared extensively, so no matter rain or shine (and it could be either), they'll be ready. Follow along with the latest from the match right here, all day long.
Live coverage: 6 p.m. ET on ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision & ESPN Radio
Kit Watch: USA - Red, Red, Red / Ghana - White, White, White
How are kit colors decided? Read Here
Meet the U.S. Men's National Team
ussoccer.com's "One Nation. One Team. 23 Stories." series introduces each player on the U.S. Men's National Team 2014 FIFA World Cup roster through a comprehensive video and interactive web experience.U.S. Men’s National Team By Position – Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City),John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
NATAL, Brazil (June 16, 2014) – U.S. Men’s National Team defender John Brooks scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute and forward Clint Dempsey scored the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history as the USA earned a thrilling 2-1 victory against Ghana in front of a crowd of 39,760 at Estadio das Dunas in the Group G opener for both teams at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Brooks became the first U.S. MNT substitute to score a goal in a FIFA World Cup. Dempsey became the first USA player to score in three separate World Cups and U.S. MNT goalkeeper Tim Howard made four saves to lead the squad to its third opening-game win in the tournament. It also marked the USA’s first international win against Ghana, which defeated the U.S. in the two previous World Cups.
The USA had to clear a massive hurdle in the early going, however, when Jozy Altidore left the game with a strained left hamstring in the 21st minute, World Cup newcomer Aron Johannsson replaced his former AZ Alkmaar teammate in the 23rd minute.
Earlier in the day, Germany defeated Portugal 4-0 in Group G play at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. Germany sits atop Group G based on goal differential. Portugal will face the USA on Sunday, June 22, without defender Pepe, who received a red card in the first half of the loss to Germany.
For full standings and results, visit ussoccer.com’s 2014 FIFA World Cup homepage.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Clint Dempsey (Jermaine Jones), 1st minute: The USA scored its quickest goal in FIFA World Cup history, needing a mere 30 seconds to take a one-goal lead against Ghana. DaMarcus Beasley played the ball up to Jermaine Jones on the left side, who then fed it to Clint Dempsey and the U.S. captain did all the rest, taking four touches and carving his way between Ghana’s Mubarak Wakaso and Sulley Muntari. Dempsey’s left-footed shot eluded the kick save attempt from goalkeeper Adam Kwarasay and ricocheted off of the right post and over the goal line. USA 1, GHA 0
GHA – Andre Ayew (Asamoah Gyan), 82nd minute: Ghana worked the ball up the left side to Asamoah Gyan, whose effective back heel pass from the left side of the box helped split up the USA back line. Andre Ayew corralled the ball and with the outside of his foot, found the inside of the left post past USA goalkeeper Tim Howard for the late equalizer. USA 1, GHA 1
USA – John Brooks (Graham Zusi), 86th minute: Second-half sub Graham Zusi took the corner kick from the right side and spotted center back John Brooks in the middle of the box. Ghana’s John Boye did not stick with the young USA defender and Brooks drove his header from eight yards out into the ground, bouncing it into the roof of the frame for the thrilling one-goal lead. Brooks became the 20th U.S. MNT player to score in a FIFA World Cup. USA 2, GHA 1 (FINAL)
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
GHA – Daniel Opare, 19th minute: The USA created a promising moment when Alejandro Bedoya found right back Fabian Johnson, who delivered a searching cross from the right side that rolled through the box. Jozy Altidore lunged to his right with the shot and Ghana defender Daniel Opare came up with the block to prevent the USA from running away with the match in the early going.
USA – Tim Howard, 32nd minute: Ghana forward Asamoah Gyan created enough space outside the box against USA midfielder Michael Bradley and fired toward the right side of the frame. Tim Howard dove to his left for a strong punch save to maintain the 1-0 lead.
USA – Tim Howard, 58th minute: Jordan Ayew’s snap header from near the top of the box caused a scare for the USA as he got some pace behind the shot, despite some good pressure from U.S. center back Geoff Cameron. Though Ayew’s shot might have been headed toward the outside of the frame, U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard took no chances and deflected the Ghana attack wide of the post to give up a corner kick.
- Clint Dempsey became the first U.S. MNT player to score in three separate FIFA World Cups. With his third World Cup goal, Dempsey also ties for third on the USA list with Brian McBride, trailing only Landon Donovan (5) Bert Patenaude (4).
- John Brooks became the 20th U.S. MNT player to score in a FIFA World Cup.
- Tim Howard broke the U.S. MNT goalkeeping record for starts with his 100th on Monday, surpassing the previous record of 99 held by Kasey Keller.
- Howard also earned his 101st cap overall and is now tied for 12th all-time with Earnie Stewart (101 appearances from 1990-2004).
- Defender DaMarcus Beasley, who joined Claudio Reyna and Keller as the USA’s only four-time FIFA World Cup members, becomes the first U.S. player to make an appearance in four World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014). Keller (1990, 1998, 2002, 2006) did not play in two tournaments as the back-up to Tony Meola in 1990 and Brad Friedel in 2002, and Reyna (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006) did not play in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
- Beasley appeared in his eighth match in the tournament, tying for eighth place on the U.S. MNT all-time list with Marcelo Balboa and Eric Wynalda. Beasley is one World Cup cap behind sixth-place Eddie Pope and Tab Ramos, who had nine games during their three World Cups.
- Beasley earned his 117th cap overall for his international career. He is fifth on the all-time list, 10 caps behind fourth-place Balboa (127 caps from 1988-2000).
- Clint Dempsey earned his seventh World Cup cap, and he is tied for 11th all-time with Paul Caligiuri, Thomas Dooley, Frankie Hejduk and Meola.
- Dempsey earned his 106th cap overall, moving into a ninth-place tie with Wynalda (106 games from 1990-2000).
- Howard increased his record wins total to 55. Howard previously surpassed Keller’s record of 53 with a 2-1 victory against Nigeria on June 7. Howard is 55-28-15 all-time and Keller had a 53-27-18 record during his career.
Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. MNT faces Portugal in the second game of Group G play at the 2014 FIFA World Cup at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 22, at Arena Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil.
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- The USA is now 8-17-5 all-time in the FIFA World Cup while Ghana moves to 5-3-2 all-time.
- The U.S. is 3-5-1 in opening matches in the World Cup Finals. The previous win was the USA’s Group D opener against Portugal on June 5, 2002, a 3-2 victory with goals from John O’Brien and Brian McBride, as well as an own goal.
- The USA is now 1-2-0 all-time against Ghana, with all three games taking place in consecutive FIFA World Cups.
- The U.S. MNT moves to 5-1-1 in 2014.
- The USA is now 2-4-0 all-time in games played in Brazil.
- U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann went with the same starting lineup during the 2-1 win against Nigeria on June 7.
- The starting group featured Tim Howard in goal and a back line of left back DaMarcus Beasley, right back Fabian Johnson and center backs Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler.
- The midfield consisted of Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, Kyle Beckerman at defensive midfield and Michael Bradley at the top of the diamond.
- The starting forward combination included Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey.
- Klinsmann was forced to use two early subs. In addition to Aron Johannsson replacing an injured Altidore in the 23rd minute, John Brooks replaced Besler at the start of the second half as Besler departed with a leg injury he suffered late in the first half.
- Besler left with tightness in his hamstring, and Klinsmann took him out for precautionary reasons.
- Graham Zusi was the USA’s final sub, replacing Bedoya in the 77th minute.
- All five USA players with previous World Cup experience got the start: Howard (2006, 2010, 2014), Beasley (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014), Bradley (2010, 2014), Dempsey (2006, 2010, 2014) and Altidore (2010, 2014).
- The USA is 9-3-2 in games with Dempsey as the team captain.
- The USA is now 32-11-8 all-time under Klinsmann.
Group G Disciplinary Notes:
- Germany: No infractions
- Ghana: Mohammed Rabiu (caution on June 16; another caution during the group stage through the quarterfinals would result in one-game suspension); Sulley Muntari (caution on June 16; another caution during the group stage through the quarterfinals would result in one-game suspension)
- Portugal: Pepe (red card ejection on June 16; suspended for June 22); Joao Pereira (caution on June 16; another caution during the group stage through the quarterfinals would result in one-game suspension)
- USA: No infractions
- For players who have only one caution at the conclusion of the quarterfinal stage, have that yellow card cleared from his record heading into the semifinals.
- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -
U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Ghana
Date: June 16, 2014
Competition: 2014 FIFA World Cup – Group G
Venue: Estadio das Dunas; Natal, Brazil
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Weather: 81 degrees, cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
GHA 0 1 1
USA – Clint Dempsey (Jermaine Jones) 1st minute
GHA – Andre Ayew (Asamoah Gyan) 82
USA – John Brooks (Graham Zusi) 86
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 23-Fabian Johnson, 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Matt Besler (6-John Brooks, 46), 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 11-Alejandro Bedoya (19-Graham Zusi, 77), 15-Kyle Beckerman, 13-Jermaine Jones, 4-Michael Bradley; 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.), 17-Jozy Altidore (9-Aron Johannsson, 23)
Subs Not Used: 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 10-Mix Diskerud, 12-Brad Guzan, 14-Brad Davis, 16-Julian Green, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 21-Timmy Chandler, 22-Nick Rimando
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
GHA: 12-Adam Kwarasey; 4-Daniel Opare, 19-Jonathan Mensah, 21-John Boye, 20-Kwadwo Asamoah; 17-Mohammed Rabiu (5-Michael Essien, 71), 7-Christian Atsu
(14-Albert Adomah, 78), 11-Sulley Muntari,13- Jordan Ayew (9-Kevin-Prince Boateng, 59); 3-Asamoah Gyan (capt.), 10-Andre Ayew
Subs Not Used: 1-Stephen Adams, 2-Samuel Inkoom, 6-Afriyie Acquah, 8-Agyemang Badu, 15-Mohammed Awal, 16-Fatawu Dauda, 18-Abdul Majeed Waris, 22-Mubarak Wakaso, 23-Harrison Afful
Head Coach: James Kwesi Appiah
Stats Summary: USA / GHA
Shots: 8 / 21
Shots on Goal: 6 / 3
Saves: 4 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 7
Fouls: 12 / 10
Offside: 1 / 5
GHA – Mohammed Rabiu (caution) 30th minute
GHA – Sulley Muntari (caution) 90+2
Referee: Jonas Erikkson (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mathias Klasenius (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Warnmark (SWE)
Fourth Official: Norbert Hauata (TAH)
Budweiser Man of the Match: Clint Dempsey
#USAvGHA Behind the Scenes
The U.S. Men’s National Team rode a shock opening win against fourth-ranked Portugal, a draw against the host Korea Republic and a little help from the goalposts to advance to the Round of 16 at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Finishing second in the group meant that the MNT would have less than three full days rest to turn around and face regional rivals Mexico in the highest stakes match the two nations had ever played. With little time to prepare, in some respects the U.S. was lucky to have drawn the team with which it was most familiar.
Despite the U.S. having won four of the previous five meetings, according to U.S. captain Claudio Reyna, when the team arrived at Jeonju World Cup Stadium that June afternoon, there wasn’t much respect shown from the opposition side.
“Before the game we walked out and we were walking around the field. We had this focus and concentration as a team as you do preparing for any game,” the former team captain told ussoccer.com. “I was with Eddie Lewis, Frankie Hejduk, Gregg Berhalter and Earnie Stewart and we were ready to go – we were foaming at the mouth for this game. We looked over and the Mexicans were laughing, joking and looking at us…That was it.”
Reyna called the team over to quickly finish their pre-game pitch inspection and head back into the locker room.
“We sort of wanted the game to start, we were so ready to go,” he continued. “Back in the locker room, I remember saying, ‘These guys are laughing at us. They think they’re going to beat us easily.’”
Mexico had done efficient work to get to that point. Having finished with seven points atop a group that featured Italy, Croatia and Ecuador, El Tri’s run to the Round of 16 had the side brimming with self-assurance ahead of the match.
“They were feeling confident, but the lack of respect they showed was clear – you never do that,” said Reyna. “I would never do that in my career, even if I felt really comfortable about beating an opponent. That you’d be giggling, laughing and joking at the opponent. It was pretty clear that it was directed at us and at some of our players, and obviously we play them all the time so there’s that rivalry.”
“I remember saying, ‘We’re not losing this game guys.’ Everyone went around and you could feel it all the way through that we couldn’t wait to get out there.”
Reyna gets past Ramon Morales in the most famous "Dos a Cero" in Men's National Team history.
Injuries and suspensions limited the U.S. options, and Bruce Arena used the uncertainty to confound the Mexicans by deploying a 3-5-2 formation for the match. The switch saw Reyna move from his regular central midfield position to the right flank, with the move paying off almost immediately. Following an eighth minute foul in the Mexico half, Brian McBride quickly restarted as he saw Reyna pushing up the flank. The U.S. captain beat two defenders to the end line before centering for Josh Wolff, whose deft touch teed up McBride for a clinical finish and an equally gratifying goal celebration.
The goal set an early tone and played perfectly into Arena’s game plan, allowing the U.S. to sit in and pick its moments to counter against an increasingly frustrated Mexican side. Landon Donovan’s second- half header off an Eddie Lewis cross helped ice the game, giving the MNT its first ever World Cup knockout round win and a quarterfinal date with Germany.
“It was just a great team performance. To beat them 2-0, eliminate them and afterwards realize this was a big deal back in the States,” Reyna said.
The win raised the profile of the Men’s National Team more than any other since the 1994 FIFA World Cup, but in an age before social media, Reyna admitted the players didn’t realize how big an impact the victory had made.
“We didn’t know how huge it was at home,” he said. “We were in Korea and we knew it was sort of growing in momentum. I remember seeing some of the news clips from Mexico City where there were people in plazas and squares crying over the result – that felt good.”
U.S. supporters celebrate during the MNT's 2-0 win against Mexico at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Though the momentum was already building towards U.S. domination of the rivalry, the World Cup win tipped the scales. Since 2000, the MNT has held a 13-6-5 advantage against El Tri.
“From that moment on, it continued to be a real domination of Mexico,” Reyna said. “We went on and beat them all the time. That was the point where we felt we were no longer playing behind them, that we were better than them.”
“It was one big coming out party on the biggest stage.”Read more