The U.S. soccer team crashed out of the World Cup Saturday with a heartbreaking overtime loss to Ghana that reduced parts of the city to tears. “I feel empty,” said Mike Blanka, 45, of Queens, after watching the game at Down the Hatch in the West Village. “I don’t know if I should go watch the Yanks or cry.”His head buried in his hands, Brian Kenny sat alone on the steps outside the W. Fourth St. bar and choked up as he lamented the crushing loss.“It’s terrible, man,” grunted Kenny, of Chatham, NJ “We shouldn’t have lost this.”Ghanaian striker Asanoah Gyan stuck a dagger in the heart of the American team in the 94th minute, sending a left-footed missile into the goal to give the Black Stars the 2-1 victory. Exasperated American supporters hung their heads as they trudged out of Nevada Smith’s in the East Village.
It was a different scene in the Bronx’s Morris Heights, where hundreds of ecstatic Ghanaians danced in the streets, waved flags and banged on drums. “We are the champions! We are going to get that cup!” roared Dan Adulak as he bounded along Sheridan St. The Americans got off to an atrocious start as Ghana scored in just the fifth minute of the game.The Ghanaian team pressed the U.S. defense in the half’s later stages, but they couldn’t extend their lead. At halftime, jubilant Ghanaian supporters spilled out onto the streets of Morris Heights, dancing and celebrating. “We’ve already won. Count it,” exclaimed Emanual Boateng, 52.
A rejuvenated American squad dominated the opening minutes of the second half. They finally tied the game in the 62nd minute after midfielder Clint Dempsey was fouled in the penalty box. Landon Donovan cracked the resulting penalty kick off the inside of the right post and into the net, triggering bedlam in the city. Sweat-drenched fans jumped on barstools and tables at Brooklyn’s Angry Wade on Smith St., pumping their fists and chanting “U-S-A!”
The game went into extra time tied 1-1. After the Ghanaian goal, the Americans couldn’t equalize. The loss cut short what had been a magical run for the unheralded U.S. squad. The Americans pulled off a shocker in their first game by tying mighty England. In a heartstopping match with Slovenia, the U.S. clawed back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to earn a draw.
And then, in what was a must-win game against Algeria, Donovan scored in the match’s dying minutes, guaranteeing the team’s spot in the round of 16. The dream ended there Saturday as the comeback kids failed to muster one last comeback.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said Diego Romero, 27, a Marine from Harlem, as he left Nevada Smith’s. “We made it farther than anybody thought this year.” -NY Daily Times