USMNT Goal of the Year: “It’s John Brooks!”


In what was an exciting 2014 campaign for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team, it’s only fitting that the goal of the year follows suit. World Cup years are always special and Americans were more eager than ever for this edition of the tournament. Progress of the beautiful game state side had been lauded for quite a while, but it was time for the US team to show it by advancing from what some pundits deemed the Group of Death.

In addition to drawing European powers Germany and Portugal, the United States saw themselves matched up against a familiar foe, now becoming rival, Ghana. The Black Stars eliminated the US in the previous two tournaments; the last one being an absolute heart breaker in extra time off the foot of Asamoah Gyan. As soon as the opening match for the USMNT was announced against Ghana, many had their eyes set on revenge.

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  • June 16, 2014 in Natal was quite a muggy and hot evening that would test the fitness of such world class stars, but the USA and Ghana were ready for the task at hand; it was the World Cup after all. Many Americans at home took off work early in the West Coast or sped home after work on the East Coast to catch Round 3 between these nations. There were huge gatherings in Grant Park in Chicago (where I found myself), Indianapolis, Nashville, New York, Kansas City, and many more as big screens were on display and American Outlaws of various chapters along with die hard American fans stood on their feet for the entirety of the match.

    Before people had even settled into their seats, the US took the lead within 30 seconds on a Clint Dempsey goal in which he took a pass from Jermaine Jones on the run, cut around a defender and slotted it by the keeper.

    While it’s obviously great to take such an early lead, this actually caused the United States to drop back and play defensive. A hamstring injury to striker Jozy Altidore in the 21st minute further inhibited any attack the Americans could muster. Everyone was biting their nails to see if the US can hold on for a full 90 minutes. Unfortunately, they couldn’t and Ghana pulled an equalizer back in the 82nd minute off the foot of Andre Ayew. This set the scene for what will be burned in our memories likely forever.

    Enter John Brooks, a 21-year-old German American, who had just made his USMNT senior debut in August of 2013. A son of a serviceman out of Chicago, Illinois, Brooks grew up in Germany and was eligible to play for both countries. He ultimately chose the United States and surprisingly found himself on the World Cup roster in 2014. Originally brought along just to take in the World Cup experience, it was not expected that Brooks would get any time on the pitch.

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    That changed when Matt Besler was subbed off at halftime due to injury. Jürgen Klinsmann was forced to bring on the young American. After holding his own for much of the half, Brooks found his way into the Ghanaian box during a corner kick awarded to the US in the 86th minute. Zusi’s in swinger met the head of Brooks, ricocheting the ball into the net, sending Americans into euphoria across the world. The shocking goal seemed to occur in slow motion as the ball hung for the youngster, and Brooks celebrated as if he couldn’t believe his own existence. Brooks became the first American to ever score as a substitute (a feat later matched by Julian Green against Belgium).

    What made this goal even more spectacular was John Brooks’ story regarding the spectacular goal:

    "“I told some teammates that I dreamed that I scored in the 80th minute and we won the game. And now it was the 86th minute and we won.”"

    While the goal may not have been as spectacular as Jermaine Jones’ cracker against Portugal or as shocking as Clint Dempsey’s goal earlier in the match, the idea of an unsung hero and timing of such a goal to finally exact revenge against a foe make it the clear winner of USMNT goal of the year. The win propelled the lads to the Round of 16, where they unfortunately fell to Belgium, but the United States had finally slayed the dragon and put behind the haunting memories of defeat to Ghana in past years thanks to a new American hero.

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    Here is a little history behind the match along with the scenes caused by the goal. It’s definitely worth the watch as a fan. I wish you all a safe and Happy New Year and for more great memories on and off the pitch in 2015!