The U.S. national team went through full training on Thursday, marking the team’s first full session since before Monday’s dramatic victory against Ghana, and while all the talk on Thursday was about upcoming opponent Portugal, it isn’t too late to look back at that unforgettable victory.
John Brooks will be remembered as the game-winning hero, but he isn’t alone in being worthy of praise. Here is a rundown of those American players who were outstanding against Ghana, those who were solid, and those who need to step up when the U.S. team faces Portugal.
Jermaine Jones. Man of the Match-worthy effort in midfield. Covered tons of ground, set up Dempsey’s opener and stood up to Ghana’s rough play.
Clint Dempsey. Scored a beautiful opening goal just 30 seconds in, then had his nose broken 30 minutes in. That didn’t stop him from playing a full 90 minutes and helping keep Ghana at bay.
John Brooks. Halftime substitute cleared away a plethora of Ghana crosses and stood tall defensively before heading home the winning goal in storybook fashion.
Geoff Cameron. Being forced to change center back partners at halftime didn’t cause Cameron to miss a beat. He made every play the team needed him to make, helping keep Asamoah Gyan off the scoreboard.
Kyle Beckerman. Another top showing for the lynchpin of the defense. Help pick up the slack for Michael Bradley’s off night and forced Ghana to try and beat the Americans wide rather than through the middle.
Tim Howard. His command in the penalty area was very important as Ghana kept probing for chances. Made some vital stops.
Fabian Johnson. Beaten on Ghana’s goal, Johnson made up for that by hustling to earn the corner kick that eventually delivered the winning goal by Brooks.
Alejandro Bedoya. Hustled up and down the field, and while he could have done more to contribute to the attack, he helped the U.S. survive a steady onslaught from Ghana.
Graham Zusi. A relatively quiet cameo before he delivered the perfect corner kick to set up Brooks’ winning goal.
NEEDS TO IMPROVE
Michael Bradley. There is no denying how hard he worked–he covered more ground than any U.S. player– but he committed several uncharacteristic turnovers and just wasn’t at his usually sharp level. The U.S. will need him to shake off his showing against Ghana when the team travels to Manaus.
DaMarcus Beasley. Turned inside and out by young Ghanaian sensation Christian Atsu, Beasley managed to avoid any mistakes to cost his team the victory, but he will need to be better against Portugal, which is sure to target him if he starts.
Aron Johannsson. He came in for the injured Altidore and simply couldn’t get into the match. Ghana’s physical style exposed him a bit, and the U.S. team’s lack of service left him struggling to make an impact.