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June 18, 2014

All aboard the Team USA soccer train

Ada — I’ve admitted on these sports pages many times that I’m not the biggest soccer fan in the state. But when the World Cup rolls around, I’m all aboard the USA train.

I certainly don’t profess to know every single person on the United States men’s soccer roster. Heck, I’m more familiar with one who was left off — Landon Donovan. But that didn’t matter when the good ol’ USA marched onto the field to take on Ghana in World Cup action Monday evening (our time).

Roberto Gallegos, a former Ada High soccer player and current right-hand man at Delicias Mexican restaurant, threw together a USA-Ghana watch party at that local sports hangout The FieldHouse. So I popped in and joined a group of about 10 to 12 local fans who gathered to enjoy Team USA’s thrilling 2-1 victory.

The USA scored before I could gulp down my first drink of unsweet tea. Clint Dempsey split two defenders and sent a left-footed shot past Ghana goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, and the ball bounced off the post and in. USA led 1-0 just 30 seconds into the match.

The only faster goals at a World Cup were by Turkey's Hakan Suker (11 seconds against South Korea in 2002), Czechoslovakia's Vaclav Masek (16 seconds against Mexico in 1962), Germany's Ernst Lehner (25 seconds against Austria in 1934) and England's Bryan Robson (27 seconds against France in 1982). Just in case you were wondering.

One of the coolest things about watching World Cup soccer is that there are no commercials. There are no timeouts for cramps (ahem, LeBron James). You just drag off one player and send in another.

But that also makes it frustrating.

After the super early goal, the U.S. suffered two significant injuries. Dempsey left with a broken nose after a shin to the face, and striker Jozy Altidore was lost to a first-half hamstring injury.

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