World Cup - Strange love: How America learned to stop worrying and love 'soccer'

The entire United States nation seemed to be watching as they defeated Ghana 2-1 at the World Cup.

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World Cup - Strange love: How America learned to stop worrying and love 'soccer'
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Team U.S.A celebrate during the 2014 World Cup Group G match between Ghana (Reuters)

'SWEET REVENGE'

'Soccer' has often struggled for acceptance in the US of A, but a good luck video message from President Obama before the match and tweets during the game from the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ellen Degeneres and LeBron James, showed that it caught the public's imagination.

Clint Dempsey's early goal gave the US the perfect start and, after Andre Ayew equalised for Ghana, John Brooks powered home an 86th-minute header to grab the win.

It was sweet revenge for the US who were beaten by Ghana in their final group stage game in 2006, and then again in the last 16 four years later.

"It just so happened we had history with Ghana," said Dempsey, who scored after 29 seconds on Monday but also suffered a broken nose.

"They pretty much knocked us out of the last two World Cups but this win means nothing unless we build on it."

Berlin-born Brooks's late goal also showed that Juergen Klinsmann's policy of recruiting dual-nationals from Europe is paying off paid off. As well as Brooks there was Frankfurt-born midfielder Jermaine Jones, who was arguably the best player for the US, dominating in midfield and creating the opening goal for Clint Dempsey. All in all there was a distinctly German flavour to the win.

OUR VIEW

This victory was a massive deal for the USA as the whole country was watching, and a lot of floating fans will have decided based on this game alone whether or not they would continue watching the tournament. 'Soccer' has enjoyed a more organic growth in the country in recent years than its previous boom time in the 70s, when they relied on ageing European and South American superstars to put bums on seats; this time round, a good tournament for Team USA could really see the game take off. Early indications show that it was the most watched USA men's game in history and the momentum drawn from this game is sure to only increase the interest.

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WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

The Americans hope they can carry the momentum into their next match with Portugal in Manaus on Sunday before taking on group favourites Germany in Recife as they bid to make the last 16 for the fourth time in the last seven tournaments. With both the NHL and NBA play-offs finished, the NFL in the off-season, and the baseball season being at a fairly early and insignificant point, the nation's soccer team is set to enjoy saturated media coverage in the run-up to the Portugal game. If they can avoid defeat in that match they will have a superb chance of qualifying - thanks in large part to the Portuguese's hugely negative goal difference - and one of the World Cup's big stories will start to emerge. FIFA will certainly be licking their lips at the prospect of the US getting more and more interested in the game, as when it comes to television rights for sporting events, nobody is willing to spend quite like the Americans.

BRAZIL BUZZ

WHAT THE US MEDIA SAID

Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports: Klinsmann, the smooth, confident German, arrived three years ago to change the culture of United States soccer. Tactically, the change has been apparent, even as the process remains in its infancy. One thing that can't go, though, is the American grit and heart and effort, which has long been the Americans' legacy. That's what made this side one that even the most elite of international teams respected because they always knew they were in for a battle against the US And that's what won the US a game Monday night. America may never produce the pure magicians of other countries. But finding guys who are willing to sell out and potentially break their face a second time in a single game … well, that's the reflection of the national personality.

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Sam Borden, The New York Times: Brooks’s header was the dramatic coda to an evening that was a jackhammer of emotions. It opened with exuberance from the Americans after Clint Dempsey scored inside 30 seconds. That was followed by about 80 minutes of nervy, anxious nail-biting as two key players were lost to injury and Ghana pounded at the United States goal. Then came a few moments of disappointment after Ghana tied the game. And finally, there was Brooks, rising to meet Graham Zusi’s corner kick and covering the United States with the warm glow of an upset victory. The Americans still have a considerable road to navigate to reach the knockout rounds with group games yet to play against Portugal (on Sunday) and Germany (on June 26). Any hope of advancement, though, was predicated on a positive result here. And the United States got one.

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WHAT THE FANS SAID

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