MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- For those of you residing under a rock, the rest of us have been glued to our television sets to capture every minute of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The World Cup is the single biggest sporting event in the world with more than 200 countries giving their all in the hopes of hoisting the golden trophy and proclaiming their nation as the best in the world.
If you haven’t started watching yet then I urge you to, because you’ve already missed some of the most amazing matches the world has seen yet.
And then there is the question I’m sure all of you are asking. M’urica? And the answer is yes, we made the cut.
If you haven’t seen our nation’s team, then I should prepare you. We don’t look like a soccer team.
There are more beards, tattoos and piercings on this team than I have ever seen in years past, with the U.S. usually outfitting a team of Ivy League graduates. This year we went with a grittier, tougher looking team … and America loves it. They look like our cousins, our roommates. They look like us.
On Monday, the U.S. put on the most American display of soccer against Ghana I have ever seen. The game had everything. There were bone crushing tackles, gut-busting defensive challenges and moments you were too scared to sit down in fear of tipping the earth in the opponent’s favor.
A short history between the two sides is needed to completely understand the pressure of the situation for the U.S. Ghana has been the last face the U.S. team has seen in the past two World Cups in 2006 and 2010. They have literally sent the U.S. packing for the last eight years. On Monday the two sides faced off in the Group G matchup. If you didn’t know, the U.S. is in the group of death again this World Cup, meaning we are the lowest projected team in our group for two tournaments straight. Last world cup, we faced off against soccer giants England and Algeria. But as true patriots, we defeated Algeria and tied the Brits.
Then we lost to Ghana … again.
Last night, we faced off against an even more talented Ghana team with the burning question in our minds, Can we beat this team?
Clint Dempsey of the U.S. thought so, burying the ball in the back of the opponent’s net in the first 34 seconds of the game.
John Boye, Ghana midfielder, retaliated by breaking his nose about 15 minutes later.
For the rest of the match the United States seemed to settle in to try and protect the lead. You read correctly. We scored in the first minute, and tried to repel an onslaught of attack from Ghanaians for 90 minutes. And they did hold on, until about the 86th minute when Ghana put one in the net shifting the momentum of the game in their favor. With more than 10 minutes left in the game, to be honest, it looked like a Ghanaian three-peat in the making, with wave after wave of attack that the boys in red white and blue looked too tired to hold off any longer.
Then, like a flash of light during a storm, a young defender by the name of John Brooks, in his very first World Cup, heads home a ball sent in by midfielder Graham Zusi so beautifully I was singing “Oh say can Zusi!” for the rest of the night.
And there it was. We did it.
The final whistle blew and the game was over. We had plucked the Ghanaian thorn from our paw.
Ladies and gentleman, I urge you to tune in to this year’s World Cup. There are matches as beautiful as this one happening every day.
And make sure to catch the next match for the U.S. against Portugal this Sunday, although Portugal is an overwhelming favorite, I have a feeling these men are something this nation or this tournament, has never seen before.
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