Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

USA soccer: 'I Believe'

By Adrian Hanauer
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 1926 GMT (0326 HKT)
American fans celebrate on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach after the United States beat Ghana 2-1 in a World Cup match Monday, June 16, in Natal, Brazil. Today is the fifth day of the soccer tournament, which is being held in 12 cities across Brazil. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/15/football/gallery/world-cup-0615/index.html'>See yesterday's best photos</a> American fans celebrate on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach after the United States beat Ghana 2-1 in a World Cup match Monday, June 16, in Natal, Brazil. Today is the fifth day of the soccer tournament, which is being held in 12 cities across Brazil. See yesterday's best photos
HIDE CAPTION
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Adrian Hanauer says the U.S. team wasn't supposed to beat Ghana at World Cup but did
  • He says victory filled with grit, determination, mental toughness -- perfectly America
  • The U.S. team next faces Portugal on Sunday

Editor's note: Adrian Hanauer is owner and general manager of the Seattle Sounders FC, arguably the most popular American soccer franchise right now. You can follow the team on Twitter @SoundersFC. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- "I believe that we will win!"

The refrain is consistently chanted by the American Outlaws, the supporters group for the U.S. national soccer team, and it now rings truer than ever.

We weren't supposed to win. But we did.

The opening match of the World Cup against Ghana was a must-win for the U.S. team -- anything short of a victory, and the red, white and blue would have faced a seemingly insurmountable hill to climb.

Adrian Hanauer
Adrian Hanauer

The Americans were given little chance of winning against their nemesis, Ghana. The team from Western Africa had beaten the U.S. twice before in the World Cup -- knocking it out of contention in 2010 as well as four years earlier.

This time was supposed to be no different. Tough conditions. Untimely injuries. A late equalizer. Everything pointed toward the Americans wilting in the Brazilian humidity.

We weren't supposed to win. But we did.

Americans don't follow the world's script. Rising to the world's stage from vastly different backgrounds, these Americans stayed united -- symbolic of our great nation. When adversity struck, they battled. They persevered. They won with typical American character and diversity.

Monday's victory sets the stage for a major match Sunday against Portugal -- which Germany downed 4-0. The winner will be one step closer to the ultimate Cup.

U.S. defeats Ghana in World Cup thriller
Health benefits of soccer
Biden surprises U.S. soccer team

But it really confirmed to the rest of the world that U.S. football (OK, we also call it soccer) will not go gently into that good night. No way.

In the end, two American heroes of completely different backgrounds provided the scoring punch that stunned Ghana. Clint Dempsey, born in Nacogdoches, Texas, and John Anthony Brooks, born in Berlin.

Dempsey is a player we are proud to have wear the Seattle Sounders FC kit, and Brooks is an up-and-comer in the German Bundesliga -- or football league -- with Hertha BSC.

Dempsey, the 31-year-old captain, is playing in his third World Cup, while Brooks, the 21-year-old newcomer, is making his competitive debut as an emergency substitute. Dempsey played the creative genius for a workmanlike U.S. team, and Brooks stood tall as a powerful 6-foot-4 defender.

Their goals were reflective of their personality. Dempsey brilliantly allowed the ball to pass through his legs on his way to three wicked touches with his right foot, setting up his left peg for a drive to the far post just 29 seconds into the match. Then, loping forward on a late corner kick, Brooks rose above the Ghanaian defense to drive his header low and hard, just out of the reach of the goalkeeper in the 86th minute.

As the final whistle blew, the reactions were priceless. Players born in all corners of the United States celebrated with their teammates from Iceland, Germany and Norway. German-born head coach Jurgen Klinsmann embraced his Austrian assistant coach, Andy Herzog. Some 20,000 fans who traveled to Brazil from the United States sang and danced in excitement. And tens of millions of Americans back home watched the whole scene unfold, evoking national pride for the greatest melting pot on Earth.

The victory was perfectly America. Grit. Determination. Mental toughness. It was American diversity coming together for a common goal. It was a team, cobbled together over the past three years, which had a singular focus on beating Ghana.

The World Cup has just begun for the Americans. And there is much work left to do. But a soccer nation back home in the United States is energized, emboldened, hopeful.

With old-fashioned American character and ingenuity, the U.S. national team is poised to do great things in Brazil. Just one game into the tournament, and the country is captivated. Americans can relate to this group of soccer players, whose diversity and spirit is akin to that of their supporters.

"I believe that we will win!"

And we will do it the American Way.

You see, we weren't supposed to win. But we did. And we will.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT