As American sports fans know well, it ain't over 'til it's over.
With the U.S. Soccer team again deadlocked with Ghana in the closing minutes of a World Cup match, an unlikely hero rose above the fray to score the winning goal. Reserve defender John Brooks got his head to a corner kick from Graham Zusi in the 86th minute and directed the ball past Ghana goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey to send the United States to a thrilling 2-1 win in the teams' opening match in Group G at Estadio das Dunas in Natal on Monday evening.
Making just his fifth appearance for the U.S. national team, Brooks became the first substitute to score at the World Cup in team history. Considered a surprise selection for the final 23-man roster that U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann brought to Brazil, Brooks was called into action after starting center back Matt Besler was pulled at halftime with hamstring tightness. His inclusion on the roster and introduction into the match would prove prescient just four minutes from full time. Brooks' last-gasp goal, coming just minutes after Ghana had netted an equalizer, proved to be the decisive tally in the latest clash between World Cup rivals.
"What about that? It's John Brooks! It's John Brooks for the USA! Have they stolen it?" exclaimed ESPN announcer Ian Darke after the ball bounced up into the roof of the Ghana goal. "Quite incredible. He couldn't even have dreamt that."
Actually, he did.
Brooks, the 21-year-old son of a German mother and an American serviceman who grew up in Berlin, told reporters after the win that he had indeed dreamed of scoring such a goal just days earlier.
"I told some teammates that I dreamed that I scored in the 80th minute and we won the game," Brooks said, via The Associated Press. "And now it was the 86th minute, and we won."
Quite literally, the U.S team's thrilling win to open its 2014 World Cup campaign was a dream come true.