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Cameron: US rallies to edge nemesis Ghana

By Stephen Cameron

Don’t lie, soccer fans.

Your head dropped in despair in the 82nd minute Monday night, and that red, white and blue top hat tumbled onto the carpet.

You could almost hear the entire nation groan as Ghana’s relentless, game-long pressure finally broke an hour and a half of desperate U.S. resistance.

Andre Ayew’s gorgeous goal cancelled a thrilling opener by Clint Dempsey just 35 seconds in — and after all that defending, we were going to be stuck with a 1-1 draw in the World Cup opener.

Or worse.

The Ghanians looked fired up to finish the execution. America feared the worst.

Go on, admit it. You did.

Fortunately, there were people with other ideas.

“I told the guys on the sideline that we’d still get more chances,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who probably could sell frozen yogurt in the Yukon. “All we had to do was take one. I still believed we would win.

“It’s the American spirit to fight to the end, and I knew we would.”

Interesting take on it, since Klinsmann — as we know — is a German soccer legend, and only has lived in the States since 1998.

But this tale gets better.

“I told my teammates yesterday that I had a dream I’d score a goal in the 88th minute,” announced substitute defender John Anthony Brooks, who was only on the pitch because starting center back Matt Besler’s hamstring tightened up at halftime.

A mega-dose of that American spirit from Brooks, then?

Well, um…not really.

Brooks is a German-American dual citizen whose dad met his mother in the military, and the 21-year-old defender has never even lived in the United States.

Of course, you know by now that Brooks barged through a crowd to meet a perfect corner kick from Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi and slammed a perfect header past Ghana keeper Adam Kwarasey.

It was the 86th minute, not the 88th from Brooks’ dream, but who’s quibbling?

Cue madness from sea to shining sea.

The German contingent was spot on about American spirit, sure enough, and the U.S. is now considerably further toward escaping the World Cup “Group of Death” than so-called experts predicted at kickoff.

There were heroes all over the place — defensive midfielders Jermaine Jones (another German-American) and Kyle Beckerman come to mind, along with goalie Tim Howard — but there also were bodies littered around the pitch.

Striker Jozy Altidore did his hamstring and almost certainly is gone for the tournament. Besler is questionable. Attacking midfielder Alejandro Bedoya was limping and came off in favor of Zusi. Dempsey broke his nose and could barely breathe.

Klinsmann has to get his troops upright and mobile — those who aren’t in the hospital — in time for the second group game on Sunday against a very angry, backs-to-the-wall Portugal side that’s coming off a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of the “real” Germany.

Klinsy has proven to be a miracle worker almost since the day he was hired, so perhaps he has something in mind — a formation that doesn’t require the lone striker he’ll be missing.

The exhausted Yanks and embarrassed Portuguese will meet in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, in the steam bath city of Manaus.

Another dose of American spirit, with that healthy spritz of German belief, and the U.S. amazingly could put the “Group of Death” firmly in the rearview mirror.

Let’s check and see what Brooks is dreaming, shall we?

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