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U.S.-Ghana Game Excites Football Fans

Barrington M. Salmon | 6/18/2014, 3 p.m.
Patrons at Bukom Restaurant in Northwest focused their full attention on a thrilling and entertaining football match that saw an underdog American team beat Ghana 2-1. The game, played in Brazil, took place June 16. Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah

The third time proved to be the charm for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team after they beat nemesis Ghana 2-1 in a thrilling match decided in the last four minutes of the game.

Ghana had beaten the Americans twice in their last two World Cup encounters and the vast majority of the standing-room-only crowd at Bukom Restaurant in Adams Morgan expected a similar result on the evening of June 16.

Marcus Robinson, a 42-year-old D.C. entrepreneur clad in a red, white and blue T-shirt, delighted in being one of the few contrarians in the crowd and exuded ecstasy following the American victory. Throughout the game, he chanted for his team, exchanged friendly banter with opponents, wagged his finger or gestured at the television whenever a Ghana shot went awry and high-fived a compatriot bedecked in a large American flag.

“Ghana could and should have won the game,” he said as the handful of American supporters and scores of disappointed Ghanaians trooped out of the Northwest restaurant into the cool Washington evening. The early goal made the Ghanaian team anxious and they tried to score too much. There were too many balls over the top.”

“Today, the white stars beat the Black Stars but America needs to move on (to the next round).”

The game, held at the Estadio das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, saw the U.S.’s Clint Dempsey score the first goal in the opening 29 seconds of the game. The game made Dempsey the fifth fastest scorer in World Cup history and the first American to score a goal in three World Cups. The U.S. playing in Group G – also known as “the Group of Death,” – still have to tangle with traditional powerhouses Germany and Portugal.

The stunning first-minute goal left the Ghanaian crowd stunned but as the game progressed, their enthusiasm jump-started again and cheers bounced around the establishment as the Black Stars dominated the run of play. The result would have been quite different if Ghana had just been able to convert on any of the 21 shots players took over the 90-plus minutes of the game.

Ghana players like Sulley Muntari, Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essien and Kevin Prince-Boateng threatened early and often but the U.S.’s stout defense kept then at bay. As U.S. goalie Tim Howard saved, parried and deflected shots, the crowd grumbled, sighed and groaned, ruing all the missed opportunities.

Naomi Williams stood in a space between the front door and the bar watching the game intently. The Canadian native said she had planned to travel back to New York earlier in the day but put everything on hold to stay and watch the match.

“Oh course Ghana,” she said when asked who she supported. “Even though I’m not Ghanaian, it’s my favorite team. I’m a big soccer fan but there are probably bigger soccer fans here. They made it so far in the last tournament and they need to go further this year.”

Williams, a Northwest resident who travels between New York and the District for her job, broke into smiles often as the game progressed.