The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


June 17, 2014

Stars and stripes!

U.S. scores early, late to prevail in World Cup opener

NATAL, Brazil — It’s all starting to come together.

The U.S. team’s route out of pool play in this World Cup, which looked muddled and confused Monday morning, had become as clean as Michael Bradley’s bald head by Monday evening following the Americans’ physical 2-1 win over Ghana in Natal and Germany’s 4-0 pummeling of Portugal in Manaus.

The U.S. goals came from Clint Dempsey in the opening 30 seconds, the fastest goal by an American in World Cup history, and John Brooks in the 86th minute, four minutes after Andre Ayew had tied it for Ghana.

That may be a bit ambitious, especially since Monday’s hard-fought win was also a costly one. The U.S. lost striker Jozy Altidore, who finally appeared to have rediscovered his form, to a hamstring injury midway through the first half then saw central defender Matt Besler subbed out at halftime after limping through part of the first half with an apparent calf injury.

Altidore was racing Ghana’s John Boye to get under a Bradley pass on a counterattack in the 21st minute when he pulled up, then dropped to the turf clutching his left hamstring.

He was stretched off the field and to the locker room with Aron Johannsson coming on to take his place. (Would have been nice to have Landon Donovan in that situation, huh?)

Doctors called it a hamstring strain but Altidore missed substantial time in 2011 and again in 2013 with injuries to the same hamstring.

A few minutes later Dempsey went down with a bloody nose following a shot from Boye’s lower left leg. But after retiring to the sideline to be patched up, he stayed in the game.

Still, injuries and bloody noses aside, Klinsmann’s team looks to be headed in the right direction.

“It was a grind, but it was a wonderful win at the end of the day,” Klinsmann said.

To advance out of its four-team group-something the U.S. has accomplished in three of the last five World Cups-the Americans need at least a win and a tie in their three first-round games. They got one of those Monday and now appear to have a good chance at the other when they meet an even-more-bruised and battered Portugal on Sunday in the Amazon.

After the game, Vice President Joe Biden visited the victorious Americans in their locker room.

“We got the three points that we badly wanted,” Klinsmann said.

Portugal lost more than just a game Monday, they also lost three starters-one to a red card and two to injury.

Pepe, the team’s best defender, was sent off in the 37th minute for a ridiculous headbutt and will leave him ineligible for the U.S. game. Minutes before striker Hugo Almeida had limped to the sideline with an injury and then in the second half defender Fabio Coentrao was helped off with an apparent groin injury. The injured pair’s status for Sunday is uncertain. This being Natal-Portuguese for Christmas, owing to the city being settled on Dec. 25 — consider all that a gift.

And this too: the lineup Ghana started Monday did not include midfielders Michael Essien, the team’s most experienced player, or Kevin-Prince Boateng. Both came on in the second half, after the oppressive humidity had worn down the American defense-and perhaps contributed to the injuries that felled Altidore and Besler.

It was an interesting gamble by Ghana Coach Akwasi Appiah because while he got fresh and talented legs on late, for the first 60 minutes it was easier night then it might have been for the U.S. backline, which saw four players make their World Cup debut.

And the backline looked inexperienced especially when Besler, who played in 12 games for the U.S. last year, came out in favor of the 21-year-old Brooks, who came to Brazil with just five international caps. Sometimes it pays to be lucky rather than good, though-two good Ghana chances were broken up when the ball bounced off U.S. defender Geoff Cameron before Brooks scored the game-winner.

Dempsey’s goal, the fifth-fastest in World Cup history, was also the first for a U.S. forward since 2002. Dempsey got the ball from Jermaine Jones, put a brilliant move on Ghana’s Boye to get deep into the penalty area, then left-footed a low shot that bent across the front of goal and banked in off the far post.

Ayew then split Cameron and Brooks and came in along on U.S. keeper Tim Howard, beating him easily with a left-footed shot to tie it. But the tie didn’t last long. And fittingly it was Cameron and Brooks who played a part in getting that goal back.

Graham Zusi sent a corner to the front of the net where he appeared to be intended for Cameron. It was just a hair too long but a charging Brooks, running in behind Cameron, got his head on it and bounced the ball in from outside the six-yard box.

Jones played an inspired game. His playmaking was creative most of the night — he certainly did a better job than Bradley — and with a little luck he could have had at least one, maybe two more assists. Plus he uncorked a long second-half rocket that nearly surprised Ghana keeper Adam Kwarasey.

Dempsey went down too on a balmy late-autumn night, but he stayed in the game. The U.S. captain ended the first half with a tissue up his nose, which he said was probably broken, to stop the bleeding after John Boye’s kick to his face during a battle for a header in the 31st minute.

“I just had trouble breathing,” Dempsey said afterward, his nose swollen and cut. “I was coughing up blood a little bit. Hopefully I’ll be able to breathe through my nose again before the next game.”

Tim Howard made big save after big save as Ghana outshot the U.S., 21-8.

“This win means nothing unless we’re able to build upon it the next two games,” Dempsey said.

Text Only
  • Danielle Zip-ing along

    Just minutes after Geneva’s Danielle Nicholson holed out on the 18th green at the Gray Course at Ohio State University during her freshman year to win the 2011 Division I state championship, the recruitment process of where she would go to college began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Maruna headed for Mount

    LeeAnn Maruna never really expected to play collegiate golf. She was so taken aback when the opportunity presented itself, she didn’t know how to respond. After all, the Grand Valley graduate had only been playing the game for a few years.

    July 23, 2014

  • Crate Late Models featured

    The Evergreen Lake Park Campground Crate Late Models, the premier class at Raceway 7, will be featured Friday night as they race for $1,000 to win.

    July 23, 2014

  • Norm He’s the Norm

    In the early part of the 20th century, as golf was taking off in popularity, it was not uncommon for boys to take up the game after becoming caddies.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don A Don McCormack column: The journey is what’s most important

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, you’ve heard over and over and over how it’s been a half-century since one of Cleveland’s big three professional sports teams have won a championship.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Murdick wins as Big Block Modifieds return

    The BRP Big Block Modifed Tour returned to Raceway 7 with 21 of the region’s fastest Modifieds turning out for the scheduled 35-lap event, the first for the Modifieds at the northeast Ohio speedplant since 2005, an event won by Todd Burley.

    July 21, 2014

  • Dale Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Chances for controlled waterfowl hunting

    Waterfowl hunters are invited to participate in special drawings for controlled hunting opportunities, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife. The drawing dates and times are as follows:

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingsville gets it done

    In a rematch of a previous softball clash between the Kingsville 9-10-year-olds and those from Conneaut, Kingsville had settled thing quickly and decisively in a mercy-rule triumph.

    July 20, 2014

  • TD Club golf A Chris Larick column: TD Club hopes to score

    Though its life was never seriously threatened, the Ashtabula County Touchdown Club has suffered in recent years.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Don A Don McCormack column: A heartfelt plea to curb violence

    Like everyone who loves soccer — and the rest of us whose interest level rises dramatically every four years when the World Cup comes around — Kevin Meier was appalled at the recent attack of soccer referee John Bieniewicz in Michigan by a player that resulted in Bieniewicz tragically dying.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Little League All-Stars July 1 to 12
AP NASCAR Lastest News
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings
AP Auto Racing Photos
West Side Shootout 2014
Ashtabula County at State Track Meet
Jefferson vs Akron St. Vincent St. Mary Regional Softball
District Track 2014
Jefferson District Softball Tournament
Bob Walters 50 Years
Geneva vs Perry Division II District Semifinal
Sports Week in Review May 12 to May 17
Sports Week in Review May 5 to May 10 2014
Sports Week in Review April 28 to May 3
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video