|Clint Dempsey after scoring against Ghana, in Natal, on Monday. (Getty Images)
Natal: Jurgen Klinsmann extended his perfect record in opening World Cup matches when the United States beat Ghana 2-1 on Monday but after their late winner he was more concerned with the flaws exposed in his team.
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 and maintain the coach’s 100 per cent record in World Cup openers.
The 49-year-old, a World Cup winner with West Germany in 1990, said his captain’s strike, officially timed at 29 seconds after kick-off, had perhaps come too early.
“The whole bench was jumping around,” he said. “If you score after just a minute you think there can’t be anything better than that.
“After that it maybe wasn’t so good because we sat back and let them come to us, that is why I was screaming on the sideline to take control of the game. We had problems controlling the ball and making passes.”
Klinsmann said he always believed the US would win even when Ghana equalised but knows they will have to improve some aspects of their game for the Group G games with Portugal and Germany.
“It was a very enjoyable moment when the goal came, when a late goal like this happens then you see a bench jumping up full of joy and excitement,” he said.
“This was exactly the start we needed, we had to work hard for it and it’s a great feeling to get the first three points,” said Klinsman.
Berlin-born John Brooks grabbed an 86th-minute winner as Klinsmann’s policy of recruiting dual-nationals from Europe paid off.
With Frankfurt-born mid-fieldler Jermaine Jones arguably the best player for the US in their 2-1 victory, dominating in midfield and creating the opening goal for Dempsey, there was a distinctly German flavour to the win.
Although he is unlikely to crow, the victory was vindication for former Germany players and coach Klinsmann.
The US coach has faced criticism for his policy of searching out eligible players in Europe and Mexico to add to the home-grown talent.
There have been others who have questioned whether the German-Americans have the same commitment to the cause as their team mates born on American soil.
Speaking after Arena’s criticism last year, Klinsmann defended the policy of seeking out talent outside the borders of the United States.
“The world is changing. It’s a global game. I believe Americans are Americans, no matter if they grow up in Japan, South Africa or Buenos Aires,” he said.
“Our job is to identify the best talents with an American passport and
“For me personally, America is a melting-pot, not only here in the US, but it’s a global melting-pot,” he said.
The man of the moment Dempsey, who scored after 30 seconds thus becoming the fifth fastest goal-scorer in World Cup, believes that they didn’t play their best and allowed Ghana the space.
“The players showed character. We got the goal early in the game and that caused us to be a little bit more defensive,” said Dempsey.
“When they got the equaliser, I thought that we might get a point out of the game, but credit to our team, we kept fighting and we got the goal. We didn’t play our best, but we ground out the result.”
Talking about his injury Dempsey said that though he was in pain he didn’t consider coming of.
“I think my nose is broken. I didn’t consider coming off, I just wanted to go on for as long as I could, but I had trouble breathing. I was coughing up blood a little bit from the back of my throat, but I felt fine and that I could keep going,” he said.
“I did feel a little bit tired towards the end, but hopefully I’ll be able to start breathing through my nose again before the next game.”
United States: Tim Howard, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler (John Brooks, 46th), DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya (Graham Zusi, 77th), Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore (Aron Johannsson, 23rd)
Ghana: Adam Kwarasey, Daniel Opare, Jonathan Mensah, John Boye, Kwadwo Asamoah, Sulley Muntari, Mohammed Rabiu (Michael Essien, 71st), Christian Atsu (Albert Adomah, 78th), Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew (Kevin-Prince Boateng, 59th), Asamoah Gyan
Man of the Match: Clint Dempsey
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)