Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey had walked off the field after facing Ghana on the wrong side of a 2-1 score twice before in the FIFA World Cup. On Monday in the U.S. National Team's first match in the 2014 World Cup, he made sure that it didn't happen a third time, as the U.S. captain opened scoring just 34 seconds into the match and the U.S. got 2-1 win after an 86th minute winner from 20-year-old defender John Brooks in Natal, Brazil.
With the match barely under way, Dempsey started things off in tremendous fashion when he scored his 38th career goal to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
Before the final notes of the national anthem had stopped ringing, Dempsey took the ball up the left side into the box off a pass from Jermaine Jones, cut around a defender, then fired a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey to put the U.S. up 1-0.
It was the sixth fastest goal in World Cup history and Dempsey's third in the World Cup, as he became the first American player to score in three World Cup tournaments.
He scored his sixth international goal against Ghana in the 2006 World Cup in Germany and netted his 19th goal in the 2010 tournament opener against England in South Africa. With 38 goals in 106 appearances, he is second behind Landon Donovan on the all-time scoring list.
However, after the frantic opening moments, the field tipped in favor of Ghana for an extended period in the match. While Ghana was maintaining possession and passing the ball all over the field, the U.S. was hobbled by injuries throughout the contest. Forward Jozy Altidore was forced out of the match with a hamstring strain in the 23rd minute, then center back Matt Besler left with hamstring tightness at halftime.
Even still, the Americans were able to fend off Ghana and a 1-0 win looked like an optimistic result.
All until the 84th minute when Andre Ayew smashed a shot past Tim Howard, who finished the match with two saves and was otherwise in total control of his box. The equalizer looked to swing the momentum in favor of Ghana, who held 61.7-percent of possession in the match and outshot the U.S. 21-8.
However, in the 86th minute, Brooks rose to the occasion to score his first international goal in just his fifth cap.
Graham Zusi swung a corner kick into the box from the right side, just missing the head of Geoff Cameron, but finding Brooks just behind him for the header goal, bringing the 21-year-old defender to his knees in jubilation as the U.S. took the 2-1 lead.
That score held until the final whistle as the U.S. joined Germany with three points in Group G.
Sounders FC defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the U.S. but did not appear in the match.
In the other match in Group G, Germany stormed past Portugal 4-0 with Tomas Muller scoring a hat trick. The U.S. will face Portugal in its next match on Sunday in the Amazonian city of Manaus. The match will kick off at 3 pm PT with television coverage on ESPN.