Day 5 of the 2014 World Cup featured a new USA hero, a familiar German goal scorer and the competition's first draw. Here's what went down:
THE USA'S STORYBROOKS ENDING
Plenty moaned when John Brooks was included on the USA's final World Cup roster over the likes of experienced center back Clarence Goodson. Plenty raised an eyebrow when he, not Omar Gonzalez, was the first center back off the bench after Matt Besler was hurt against Ghana (as Jurgen Klinsmann explained, Brooks is the left center back backup option; Gonzalez the right). No U.S. fans are asking those questions now.
Brooks' improbable 86th-minute goal -- on the night the 21-year-old was officially cap-tied to the U.S. no less -- broke Ghana's hex over the Americans and delivered a Group G-opening 2-1 win for the USA in Natal.
The game featured just about everything. Clint Dempsey's goal half a minute into the contest. Jozy Altidore's 21st-minute hamstring injury. Dempsey's broken nose after a kick to the face. Ghana's eventual equalizer. A raucous pro-U.S. crowd. In the end, it featured its biggest twist yet. Depending on the severity of Besler's hamstring injury, Brooks, who had a dream envisioning his game-winner before the game, could find himself in a vital role going forward. Read Grant Wahl's three thoughts on the wild contest.
GERMANY DOMINATES PORTUGAL
That Germany beat Portugal is not a shock in itself. But the sheer level of domination that Joachim Low's side -- buoyed by Thomas Muller's hat trick -- displayed left little doubt as to who is the Group G favorite. The 4-0 win put Germany in the group driver's seat, while Portugal is in a world of trouble. Center back rock Pepe was sent off for an asinine headbutt to Muller. Left back Fabio Coentrao exited with an injury. Cristiano Ronaldo emerged healthy, but he failed to make an impact and was visibly frustrated as time wore on.
Not only is Portugal down four goals in the table, it may very well be down two starting defenders for a must-have game against the USA on Sunday. Meanwhile, for Germany, there's little to worry about after showing its class, as SI's Greg Bishop writes from Salvador.
AT LONG LAST, A DRAW
The World Cup's opening games dealt out three points after three points, but finally, two teams shared the spoils. Nigeria and Iran each failed to find the back of the net, with both aiming for their first World Cup wins since 1998 but both settling for a 0-0 draw in Curitiba.
Nigeria had the better of the run of play in the early going, but will rue its missed opportunities. Considering that both have to play Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina in their final two games, neither did itself any favors for the long run by collecting only the one point.
Instagram user randy_j_kim has quite the view from the stands for John Brooks' winner vs. Ghana:
John Brooks' legend has grown by epic, almost presidential, proportions
BRILLIANT: USA match-winner John Brooks' updated Wikipedia page. pic.twitter.com/Hxwv732bdN— BBC Sporf (@BBCSporf) June 17, 2014
WHAT'S ON DECK (all times ET)
- Belgium, a popular pick to make a deep run in the competition, begins Group H play against Algeria at 12 p.m. (ESPN/Univision).
- Host Brazil and Mexico kick off the second batch of group games, with each looking to build off opening wins in a high-profile Group A tilt at 3 p.m. (ESPN/Univision).
- Russia and South Korea are the final two teams to begin play, clashing in the other Group H bout at 6 p.m. (ESPN/Univision).