Overall thoughts on the match:
JK: “First of all a big congratulations to the team for going through a very difficult game, which we expected. We knew it was going to be a grind coming down to the wire against a very strong Ghana side. I was still convinced we were going to win this game even after they got the equalizer. I had the feeling that another two or three chances would come and we would need just one of those opportunities which then happened. This is definitely the result that we wanted. The players worked hard for it and its just a good feeling to have the first three points.
On whether he saw anything from Ghana defensively that gave him the feeling that the U.S. would get a few last chances:
JK: “No I think it was all over the field. It was a very dynamic game, but I saw opportunities always coming in transition. And obviously when a chance comes from a set piece, we feel a little more hope because we are very good between those things and the players are determined to go into those. It’s a big moment for John Anthony Brooks, it’s a special moment for the boy. He did well. For us it’s hard to swallow the first pill with Jozy coming off the field because he is very important to us. Then at half time with the soreness Matt Besler had, we decided not to risk it and have a second player maybe going out then. So we were precautious and took Matt out and John came in and played his first World Cup game.
On John Brooks maturation as a player:
JK: “It’s normal that when young players come through and have their first big opportunities that everyone is curious to see how far those players are already. We could see in every training session and we could see with his club as well that he’s a very good talent coming through the ranks. It was no problem for me at all [to bring Brooks into the game]. We could have stayed with Matt and if the soreness goes away you’re going to be all fine, but we have players coming in from the bench, they know exactly what to do, they know their roles and it will happen more often in this world cup that we’ll need the entire bench.
“The players know that and they’ll have to be ready. We warm them up before the game just like we warm up the starters. We need to have them coming if an injury happens after five minutes or after 45 minutes. I think John showed his talent. There’s still opportunity for him to learn and to grow and what better stage to do that than the World Cup.”
On if Brooks has move up the depth chart past Omar Gonzalez:
JK: “No, it’s really position based. John is the left center back and Omar is the right, so if something would have happened to Cameron it would have been Omar. This is how we train. We put so much work into our last four weeks in that specific position that we don’t want to now mess things up. We will move forward with john filling that roll and for the right center back roll we have Omar as cover.”
On potentially being without Altidore, Besler and Dempsey due to different injuries:
JK: “We have to deal with it. We feel really sorry for Jozy and hope that it’s not that bad and that we are going to get him back as quick as possible. With Matt it’s no problem. I think we made the right decision. We held him out of the game so he didn’t get any injury, so he’s all fine. Now Clint has to work with his nose. It will hurt him for a couple of days. I broke mine three or four times; it’s alright. We’ll give him a few days. But it will continue to happen to all teams, injuries, problems, issues. That’s why you have a roster of 23 players and they have to understand exactly their role no matter when they have to come on the field. So we have to prepare for Portugal and we will be very strong there as well.”
On how he managed the game through the injuries and tactically when Ghana controlled portions of the match:
JK: “Overall I think it was the right move to go into a four flat midfield line with Clint right in front of them and in from of him have Jozy. That worked out well because Kyle had to cover for the center backs. Nothing really was created by Ghana coming through the middle. They were really more dangerous coming over the wings. That’s where their goal came through a beautiful play that they did. Overall, I think the compactness was there. They got some things over some sort of crosses just really made it inside not to a specific target; that looked good.”
On the moment when Clint Dempsey scored 30 seconds into the match:
JK: “Well the whole bench was jumping around. It’s a very special moment in the opening game for each team in the World Cup and to score inside of a minute, I think there can’t be anything better than that. Overall though, we sat back a little too much instead of taking the game to them. We let them come and reacted to them. A similar thing happened to us in Jamaica; we scored two after two or three minutes and suddenly the team dropped and I was screaming on the sideline like crazy to keep the line high and take control of the game and keep control of the ball, which we had problems with.
“[Against Ghana] we had problems just to control it and connect passes. It was maybe because of that first goal because we were up suddenly and we’re thinking we have to defend, but no, go for the second one, get control of the game. Ghana had to push it, they had to come [forward] and they did that well with very good players as you saw tonight.”
On what convinced him that Brooks was ready to be a part of the USA’s World Cup squad:
JK: “We coaches all over the place, we always try to read players coming through the youth system and breaking into the leagues wherever they play and we try to figure out how this player can be developed over time. With John we saw really early that his passing is amazing, he’s calm for his age, obviously he’s very strong in the air because he’s so tall he has confidence. He rarely commits fouls. His positioning is to get in front of strikers. This is what we need, so now we have to figure out is he ready for a World Cup already, or does it take another year or two in his development?
“We had the feeling after I talked with the coach at his club and the sporting director there that he’s ready for us. They expected more from him last season. He got a little bit of a lesson from his coach, which is part of growing as well. But, he had time now for more than a month in each training session to teach himself every element of the game and showed that he’s willing to take that on and learn it quickly. He obviously learned it quickly and now we just have to keep him consistent with his performance today.”
On the final moment of the game when Brooks scored:
JK: “It was a very enjoyable moment when his goal came, but also over the whole 90 minutes it showed us a lot of areas where we have to be better for our second game going into Manaus later against Portugal. We gave too much of the game to Ghana, so we will take all those pieces that we went through together and analyze them and show them to players and step it up another edge now going into Manaus.
“But, when a goal like this happens pretty late now you think we can get there. In terms of this one game you see the bench jumping up full of joy and full of excitement and a lot of fans at home were going crazy in front of the TV. Then we play five minutes of stoppage time and I wondered where these minutes come from. In the first half it was understandable with the injuries to Jozy and to Clint; second half I didn’t, but you have to grind it out. It was fun.”
On if he has seen the Germany performance against Portugal and how dangerous the U.S. can be for so called “big teams”:
JK: “We watched the Germany game and that’s a huge monumental start to the tournament [for them]. It was impressive.
“[For us] it’s a great start, a very difficult start against a great Ghana team and now we have to work harder to show Portugal who we are. This is a very dangerous game, more dangerous than before because you get that 4-0 result from Germany, now you’re going to come into Manaus pretty angry. I don’t know how Cristiano Ronaldo behaves when he’s angry, but we expect a very difficult game. We are looking forward to it. These are the moments. It’s been three years we’ve been working toward these moments, now it’s there. Some of the players couldn’t believe it before the game started that it’s there, so it’s pretty exciting for us, but we need to step it up even more to get a result against Portugal and to get a result against Germany, but we have a lot of confidence and a lot of energy for what we need to do.”On if the U.S. makes it out of the group stage, would he prefer to see Ghana also advance:
JK: “Well it’s going to be difficult with that 4-0 from Germany today. I think from the beginning on, Germany is the favorite in this group and now Ghana must get a result against Germany and get a result against Portugal as well otherwise it’s going to be wide open. Now it’s a grind, one game after the other. I think Ghana had a good game tonight. We had the last piece in it with that set; we are pretty happy about it, but everything is still out there to play for.