The name alone seems like a historic serial killer, not a historic goal scorer at the World Cup. It was literally – the unlikeliest of goal scorers. A player making just his fifth cap for the United States team; Only in the game due to an injury.
I had professed before the game started: This Ghana fixture would ultimately define the Klinsmann era. It goes without saying that there is not a shot at advancing from this group with a tie or a loss in this game. In the past, the United States would have no business advancing from the Group of Death. Jurgen has talked about doing things differently and changing the culture of American soccer for four years now. What better way to change the culture than beating a team who eliminated the two preceding coaches?
Jurgen’s recruitment of German/American dual nationals has been scrutinized in the media. However, each team in this tournament has more than one dual national on their squad. The recruits, combined with the confidence he puts in other young American players, have bolstered this team. In truth, the talent pool to choose his 23-man roster was exponentially greater than any previous World Cups. That is a genuine compliment to Klinsmann’s approach. In fact, the talent to choose from last month was strong enough to leave the American Hero, Landon Donovan, off the roster. This move put his ultimate stamp on the U.S. team. No player is greater than the team. His team-before-player philosophy couldn’t have been displayed in a more positive light today. Two injuries brought in two young, promising squad members who played with as much confidence as Landon himself.
Many casual fans would point out how Ghana maintained possession most of the match – that the U.S. team stole a victory late. The truth is, the game changes when you go up a goal. Even if the tactics are still to attack, it’s a natural instinct to protect that lead. As I referenced in my previous post, this game was never going to be about tactics. The narrative of revenge on Ghana ran too deep through this American squad. This was all about heart. Portugal will be a different battle, but for a night, let’s savor this victory.
In a way, John Anthony’s goal in the 86th minute epitomized the Jurgen Klinsmann era. A nameless, young, confident German/American dual national came off the bench to finally conquer Ghana.