Furman product Dempsey lifts US to World Cup win

clintdempseyFormer Furman soccer standout Clint Dempsey, the captain of the United States Men’s National Team,, scored just 34 seconds into the team’s 2-1 World Cup opener over Ghana in  Natal, Brazil on Monday.

After the United States won a throw-in just seconds into the match in the attacking end, Jermaine Jones delivered a pass to free Dempsey down the left side. The former Paladin midfielder darted to the left before cutting inside his defender with the ball at his feet and firing a left-footed strike that ricocheted off of the far post and into the back of the net.

The goal was the fastest ever by an American in World Cup play, sixth fastest in the history of the World Cup and made Dempsey the first American to ever score at three World Cup finals. The U.S. scored the game-winner on a late John Brooks header.

Ghana equalized with under 10 minutes remaining, but the United States found the game-winning goal from another Furman connection in the final moments.  Graham Zusi, the brother of former Furman women’s soccer standout Meaghan Zusi, swung a corner kick into the box in the 86th minutes and Brooks headed past the keeper to give the U.S. a 2-1 win.

Following the match, Dempsey, who scored versus Ghana during the 2006 World Cup and against England at the 2010 World Cup, received Man of the Match honors. He will lead the United States against Portugal on Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN in Manaus, Brazil.

This summer’s World Cup marks the third for Dempsey.  A member of the Furman Athletics Hall of Fame and Southern Conference Hall of Fame, Dempsey joined the United States National Team in November of 2004 and helped his team qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, where he netted his first goal on the world’s biggest soccer stage in a loss to Ghana.

Four years later, Dempsey helped the U.S. engineer a return trip through World Cup qualifying to the finals in South Africa.  The versatile midfielder and forward scored the game-tying goal in a group match versus England to help the American side advance to the knockout stage for the first time since 2002.

A three-time U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year selection, Dempsey has scored 38 times for his country in 106 matches.  With his 2010 goal versus England, he became just the second American to score in multiple World Cup tournaments.

Photo courtesy of USA Soccer

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