By Simon Evans
(Reuters) – Berlin-born John Brooks grabbed an 86th-minute winner for the United States against Ghana in World Cup Group G on Monday as Juergen Klinsmann’s policy of recruiting dual-nationals from Europe paid off.
With Frankfurt-born midfielder Jermaine Jones arguably the best player for the U.S. in their 2-1 victory, dominating in midfield and creating the opening goal for Clint Dempsey, there was a distinctly German flavor to the win.
Although he is unlikely to crow, the victory was vindication for former Germany players and coach Klinsmann.
The U.S. coach has faced criticism for his policy of searching out eligible players in Europe and Mexico to add to the homegrown talent.
Brooks was the hero but another German-American, Fabian Johnson, produced pace and work-rate on the right side and former Iceland Under-21 international Aron Johannsson had to work tirelessly as a lone striker after coming on for the injured Jozy Altidore.
Bruce Arena, who was coach of the U.S. team at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, has been vocal in his criticism of the policy and just before the World Cup also objected to having a non-American like Klinsmann as coach.
There have been others who have questioned whether the German-Americans have the same commitment to the cause as their team mates born on American soil.
The apparent hesitation of players such as Timothy Chandler, who have grown up in the German youth system, to commit fully to the U.S. team before making the decisive decision, added to the doubts.
But Klinsmann has clearly been able to increase his options and strengthen his starting line-up by including the sons of U.S. servicemen who served in Germany as well as Johannsson and Oslo-born midfielder Mix Diskerud.
Speaking after Arena’s criticism last year, Klinsmann defended the policy of seeking out talent outside the borders of the United States.
“The world is changing. It’s a global game. I believe Americans are Americans, no matter if they grow up in Japan, South Africa or Buenos Aires,” he said.
“Our job is to identify the best talents with an American passport and
“For me personally, America is a melting-pot, not only here in the U.S, but it’s a global melting-pot,” he said.
Against Portugal and Germany in the remaining Group D games, Klinsmann will again draw from that pot.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)