He was such an unknown entity in the United States’ World Cup plans that the best close-up shot we could find for John Anthony Brooks’ pre-tournament player profile was in his club uniform.
The 21-year-old has had an interesting year to say the least. Playing his entire career, youth to senior, in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin, the center back performed extremely well at times. He also enraged his coach by missing practice due to a major back tattoo, and previously caused his coach to describe him by saying, “We’re in the Bundesliga. Brooks needs to grow up.”
So perhaps that describes why Brooks’ celebration after boosting the States to a 2-1 win over Ghana was to flop face first on the ground; It’s been a crazy year for the youngster.
Born and raised in Berlin but eligible for the United States thanks to his father being an American serviceman, Brooks took his US bows with the U20 team in 2010. He progressed to the U23 team in 2011 but gave some consternation to US Soccer by playing with Germany’s U20 team in 2012.
At 6-foot-4, Brooks made his full US debut in summer 2013 against Bosnia and Herzegovina, but had played under 300 minutes for the States before his memorable Monday appearance.
Now Brooks may face the daunting task of stopping Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the USMNT potentially losing Matt Besler after the Sporting KC man subbed off at halftime against Ghana. The honor could also go to Omar Gonzalez, but Brooks came on Monday to heroic results.
[MORE: After gritty win, can US morph its style to challenge Portugal?]
This was not supposed to be his World Cup, rather he’d be there for the experience. Well, through 45 minutes… it kinda is his World Cup (for at least the next six days).
What’s next for the youngster? Maybe more tattoos. Here’s a shot from MenInBlazers.com that shows his elbow (ouch) ink of Berlin and Illinois.
The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.
The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.
[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]
That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.
- Czech Republic
- Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)
- Ukraine (qualified for play-off)
- Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)
- Slovenia (qualified for play-off)
- Northern Ireland
- Hungary (qualified for play-off)
- Sweden (qualified for play-off)
- Norway (qualified for play-off)
- Denmark (qualified for play-off)
The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.
Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic
The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.
[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]
Italy 2-1 Norway
Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.
Malta 0-1 Croatia
With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.
Elsewhere in EURO qualifying
Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan
Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan