John Brooks: Last Man In Scores Last-Minute Winner
Jürgen Klinsmann's German-American pipeline is paying dividends already.
An immortal for Die Mannschaft himself, Klinsmann knew how thorough the German training system was in teaching the game's finer points, so that's where he began his search for talent after being named to the helm of the United States' national program.
Specifically, he was looking for dual citizens, players whose fathers were most likely American servicemen who married German Mädchen. His major coup was -- and still is -- Julian Green, a 19-year-old so gifted that he was already in the first XI for Bayern Munich and who will become a fixture for the Americans very soon.
But his immediate reward came in the form of a 6-4 back named John Brooks, who became the first substitute in the history of American World Cup play to score a goal. His sense of timing was impeccable. It broke a 1-1 standoff with Ghana in the 86th minute:
The German machine is deep and already firing on all cylinders after trashing Portugal. It's difficult to see either the United States or Ghana earning points against them. As long as the Americans keep their goal differential reasonable, they're virtually assured of making it to bracket play if they can manage a draw with the Portuguese.
That match is Sun 22 Jun.
Meanwhile, Brooks is living the dream. Allegedly the last man selected by Klinsmann for the Brazilian sojourn, the 21-year-old who plays for his hometown Hertha Berlin SC -- and is being pursued by a number of English Premiership sides -- achieved legend status with a nod of his head. It shouldn't be lost, however, that his sound defending in the box thwarted a dangerous Ghanian counter mere moments afterward.
It should also be noted that Brooks' tally was set up by a laser-accurate free kick from another of Klinsmann's substitutes, Graham Zusi, another MLS product -- Sporting Kansas City -- who was inserted into the action in the 77th minute.
As one of only five defenders on the American roster, Brooks will no doubt be called upon again to perform more fundamental duties in the back row. That's why he's there, and Klinsmann knew all along he was up to it.
Among other things.