Brooks

USA 2-1 Ghana: United States Man of the Match rankings

21 Comments

The United States played a heart-stopper against Ghana, and came out victorious 2-1.

It was a game of emotional ups and downs, early goals, devastating injuries, and young heroes.

I was only planning on doing a top-3 for Man of the Match, but there are no less than five deserving mentions, broken down into four segments.

Take a breath, enjoy the moment, and let’s hand out some prizes.

4. Tim Howard

The man who just earned his 100th cap for the United States was enormous in the first two-thirds of the game.  With Ghana looking to score late, the defense made more plays than Howard, but he was instrumental early as Ghana pressed, especially in the first half.

Howard is a man of continuity, and he didn’t shine, but he was essential in palming away Ghana early. Overall, he weathered 21 Ghanian shots, although only three were on target.  He made his biggest save on a powerful 31st-minute shot by Asamoah Gyan.

[ MORE: Brooks wins it late | Man of the Match | Injury update ]

3. Clint Dempsey

The man who scored the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history was enormous in Jozy Altidore’s absence. He was all over the field…up top, on the wing, down the middle, and everywhere in between.

Obviously the early moment was his finest, but for someone who absolutely broke his nose halfway through, Dempsey is the definition of toughness and determination. He went wire-to-wire in a match where so many others flamed out with exhaustion or injury.

2. Jermaine Jones/Kyle Beckerman

These two men weren’t very good going forward, giving the ball away too much, but once the US went early the instructions from Klinsmann were clear: defend, defend, defend. They were crucial in snuffing out Ghanian attacks before they became too dangerous, completing 9/12 tackles attempted.

Jones was also 6-of-8 in aerial duels, again proving how huge he was in his defensive roles. The German-born player had to cover for DaMarcus Beasley who was less than stellar on an island on the left, and even for Michael Bradley who struggled mightily above him in the advanced midfield.

This pair needs to get better in their advances forward, proving a bit too inaccurate, but defensively they were strong, and that was the most important after going ahead early.

[ RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ]

1. MAN OF THE MATCH: John Brooks

21 years old. One of the last men on the roster. A surprise selection. Thrust into the spotlight unexpectedly.

John Brooks is the perfect storyline, heading in the winner for the US in the 87th minute, and his celebration was a perfect example of why. He flat out couldn’t believe what had just happened.

Having decided to play for the United States over Germany, many people criticized his selection onto the roster over the much more experienced Clarence Goodson.  Brooks was thrown into the fire after an injury to Matt Besler, and in that kind of situation, many youngsters would crumble.  Not Brooks. His defending was brilliant both before and after he scored.

Brooks’s stats on the day: 2/2 tackling, 2 interceptions, 2 blocks, 7/7 clearances, 9/10 passing. That’s outstanding for a 21-year-old inexperienced kid.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s his Wikipedia page right after the final whistle:

source:

[ RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ]

Premier League AT HALF: Arsenal fights back, Hull City on top

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (L) and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) celebrate after Theo Walcott of Arsenal (not pictured) scored Arsenals first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City

Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.

Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.

But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.

Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a

Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland

Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Koeman: “Nervous” Everton has a problem after another loss

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ronald Koeman manager of Everton arrives prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on December 10, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.

Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.

The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.

Here’s Koeman:

“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”

A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?

Follow @NicholasMendola

VIDEO: Hendrick scores incredible volley from distance

Leave a comment

Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game online ] 

A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.

Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.

Click play on the video above to watch it.

Messi’s latest goal dares you to count the touches (video)

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Sadar stadium on December 10, 2016 in Pamplona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.

So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.

[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]

On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.

That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.

Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.

Follow @NicholasMendola