By Spencer HallÂ
10 things I wrote down at the bar in between heart attacks as 22 soccer players did their damnedest to kill me.
1.Â Scores are forever lies. For instance: this game is going to sit on the books as 2-1, a score that in some circumstances is a secure, comfortable victory. Without looking at it, you might assume that one team pounced up by a score of 2-0, diddled around a little, and then allowed a desperate late goal while dribbling out the clock. You could assume that, because that indeed does happen in soccer matches.
2.Â What the score won't tell you is that the United States ordered their goals with an eighty minute interval in between, breaking into the scoring column like a bear wrecking a cabin and then finding their second meal of the day much, much later. A third goal for lunch would have made the wait something less than excruciating, but some days you just get busy and forget to eat.
3.Â Or, alternately: some days you go to find your lunch, and Ghana has eaten it out of the office refrigerator. After Clint Dempsey's savage opening goal, Ghana settled down, controlled the ball, bossed midfield, sent crosses in with alarming frequency into a harried Tim Howard*, and came close to short-circuiting the American attack just like they'd done in the two previous World Cup matches. If the opening goal was novelty, the better part of the remaining match was a waking nightmare on replay, with Sulley Muntari, Christian Atsu and Andre Ayew running roughshod through the USMNT midfield.
*That's redundant. Tim Howard is basically a synonym for "harried" at this point.
4.Â If we never see Sulley Muntari outside of a Milan match ever again, that would be fine. Like, totally, totally fine. Ditto for Christian Atsu, last seen punching DaMarcus Beasley with his own fist and asking him why he was hitting himself.
5.Â Michael Bradley had a horrible game. We would love to be overly technical about it, but "generally and horrendously off" is the best possible term for Bradley's night against Ghana: he gave up possession, was uncharacteristically prone to fouls, and misfired repeatedly against the pressure of the Ghanaian midfield. The trend of one says Bradley is not in top form, and will perform poorly for the rest of the Cup, and should be benched. The trend of one as a mathematical concept does not exist, and is total horseshit. Bradley will likely be his old self against Portugal on Sunday. (And if he isn't, well...we don't really have an answer for this, and will just keep playing Michael Bradley until his legs fall off.)
6.Â Jermaine Jones is a damn hero. In the long Ghanaian siege between goals one and two, he was an absolute stalwart, often doing the work of two men. Watching him play you can't help but hear Klinsmann in a German accent saying emphatically:Â "It iss vaaahry difficult to mooohve heem."
7.Â DaMarcus Beasley has seized the early lead for the title of The USMNT Jeff Agoos Beloved Liability Of The Moment. Christian Atsu devastated Beasley all night, forcing Jones to play two defensive positions and opening up much of the mayhem wreaked on the American defense by Ghana. I love him, and always will, but love doesn't mean he's not currently on fire and headed toward further torching at the hands of Portugal's Nani on Sunday.
8.Â No one knows exactly what a John Brooks is but he is beautiful and perfect and broke the losing streak against one of the USMNT's oddest and most stubborn rivals. For that he will be flawless forever, even if as a late sub he allows a goal to Portugal on Sunday.
9.Â Clothes sweat through: one undershirt and one 2010 USMNT jersey. Drinks consumed: one beer, three Mississippi Mules (honeysuckle vodka and ginger beer.) Tables stood on: one, with a half-squat on the bench for the last excruciating twenty minutes. Profanities uttered in public: only one, in the direction of the Ghanaian fan who dressed like a witch doctor. Asshat Americans seen in Italy jerseys: two, but one was a child and can't be held accountable for the despicable treason of their father.
10.Â This man got an ovation when he came on the screen. He is our new leader and king. Worship him. Turn down for nothing, and remain turnt in his name.