There were so many memorable things about the World Cup. For me, two things in particular especially stood out: one as a neutral and the other as an American.
You can probably guess them: Germany 7-1 Brazil and USA 2-1 Ghana.
Watching Germany 7-1 Brazil was completely insane at the time, and it still feels insane now. The thing is, Germany winning itself was hardly surprising. They entered the match favored, and with Thiago Silva out with yellow card accumulation and Neymar out with an injury, it seemed like Brazil’s only hope of going to the final was riding the home crowd. Jeremy and I recorded a hangout recapping the quarterfinals and previewing the semifinals, and we both agreed Germany would win.
But absolutely no one was expecting the kind of domination from Germany. That kind of absolute shellacking was unprecedented in a World Cup game of that magnitude. Miroslav Klose broke the record for all-time World Cup goals in that game and it was basically a footnote. It was incredible to see one team just so thoroughly dominate and decimate another team when they appeared to be relatively evenly matched.
The moment when the game went from Germany just comfortably winning to something distinctly different and more surprising was when Toni Kroos made it 4-0. Germany had already scored twice in two minutes to give themselves a pretty comfortable 3-0 lead only 24 minutes into the match. But then just seconds after kick off, Kroos dispossessed Fernandinho. From there, he found Khedira, and Khedira gave it back to Kroos for an easy cutback goal. It was pretty pathetic from Brazil and the first moment I started thinking this game was something different.
A win like that is incredible no matter what the circumstances. But Germany managed to do that to Brazil in front of their own fans. They made this poor old man cry. This game will undoubtedly go down in the history books and in all likelihood will be more memorable than Germany’s 1-0 extra time win over Argentina in the final.
USA 2-1 Ghana will be just as memorable for me and every other American. It was first made memorable for Clint Dempsey scoring within the first minute. It was the opposite of something the USA had the dreadful World Cup habit of doing in the past: conceding an early goal (which they did in this World Cup, to Nani of all people). In South Africa they conceded goals in the 4th, 5th, and 13th minutes to England, Ghana and Slovenia respectively.
After the early goal, the USA had to hang on for dear life. That task was made even harder when Jozy Altidore had to be subbed off in the 23rd minute due to a hamstring injury, ending his World Cup before it had even began.
Then in the 82nd minute, the moment everyone was dreading finally happened. Asamoah Gyan found Andre Ayew, and the Marseille man put a lovely left footed finish past Tim Howard at the near post. While a draw wasn’t bad result for that fixture by any means, it wasn’t ideal when your next two games are the fighting Ronaldos and Germany.
But then four minutes later, a relatively unknown centerback from Hertha Berlin named John Anthony Brooks made himself a legend forever by putting Graham Zusi’s perfectly placed corner past Adam Kwarasey and putting the USA ahead 2-1 with just four minutes left. The goal was iconic, and so was Ian Darke and Taylor Twellman’s call of it. Ian Darke yelling in a swirl of excitement and disbelief “WHAT ABOUT THAT? IT’S JOHN BROOKS. IT’S JOHN BROOKS” will forever stick with me and every other American watching that game.
There’s so many other World Cup memories that I’d like to expand on but won’t because this is post isn’t just a World Cup recap. The demise of Spain, James Rodriguez’s goal versus Uruguay, Suarez scoring twice against England, Suarez biting Chiellini, Manuel Neuer’s heat map against Algeria, LVG’s ballsy (and successful) substitution of Tim Krul, the incredible goalkeeping from Keylor Navas amongst several others will all stick me when I think about the 2014 World Cup.
Just not nearly as much Germany 7-1 or USA 2-1.