I watched this crazy, entertaining, heartbreaking, exhausting, ultimately joyous game on a fairly small screen in the company of friends, ciders, garlic fries, and one tasty burger -- AMERICA! and so can you -- so I'm not exactly the most reliable witness for passing judgement on any of the players involved.
From our vantage point, the United States grabbed an excellent early goal -- the sixth fastest in World Cup history -- hung on for dear life for the next 85 minutes, conceding once, and then freedom'd a winner from a most unlikely source in John "greatest American since Abe Lincoln" Brooks. In those 85 minutes, Ghana ran the show, with the US more than willing to gift possession back at any and all opportunities. Unfortunately for the Black Stars, their attacking efforts resembled some of Chelsea's most frustrating outings, especially when it came to finding a proper final ball or providing a decent finish. Just three shots on target from 21; doesn't get much more Torresian than that.
Chelsea's only involvement in this match -- pause to reflect on Michael Essien's fading star -- was 22-year-old loanee Christian Atsu, whose season at Vitesse proved successful enough to be named the Dutch club's Player of the Year. Today we got to see, in part, not only why he won that award but also where he can still improve. While he did go close with a curling left-footed effort, he finished 0-for-4 in shots and his final ball was particularly lacking. On the other hand, he gave the USA, especially left back DaMarcus Beasley, the runaround for most of the match. More centrally, where he was usually deployed by Vitesse, he made Michael Bradley look silly on at least one occasion, though Bradley made himself look silly even more often than that without any outside help.
All things considered I'm quite happy that Atsu's a Chelsea player— Graham MacAree (@MacAree) June 16, 2014
Atsu so far playing differently than for Vitesse. Shows no struggle to make that transition. Has had a long season too— Mark Will Stinson (@TheWSNetwork) June 16, 2014
BBC pundits (Henry especially) highlighting Atsu as a star player for Ghana during the first half. #CFC— Chelsea Rumours (@ChelseaRumours) June 16, 2014
The local WAGNH commentariat was similarly impressed, though Ghana's overall insistence on death by crossing (a.k.a. the Moyes Gambit) wasn't helping the situation. Still, after a season of relative anonymity in the Eredivise, it was nice to see on the world stage as well that Atsu's seemingly random purchase last summer did come with a fair amount of actual skill.
This is where you need Gus Johnson to scream "HE CROSSES OVER!"