Temryss Lane’s World Cup: Meeting the Wondo Family and Dancing ‘Til Dawn
After the run, I geared up with my Golden Eagle feather and USA kit to head to the game. We planned to march to the match with the American Outlaws to experience our World Cup dreams coming true. Nerves ran high, but optimism reigned supreme as this would be the third time we would play Ghana on the World Cup stage.
Ghana has proven to be a challenging opponent for USA having knocked us out of the round of 16 in the last World Cup, South Africa 2010 and defeated us in the group stage of World Cup Germany 2006. How does the saying go, "third time’s a charm?"
My game charm was the Golden Eagle feather my Uncle Fred had adorned me with before I left Lummi days away from my trip to Brazil. That and traditional red paint he gave me to put on my feet, hands, heart, and neck for protection.
We met at a bar 800 meters from the Arena Das Dunas and prepared for our march to the match. Literally a sea of red, white and blue took over the entire block.
Locals drove by taking photos of the mayhem. We must have sang the national anthem 10 times by the time we arrived at the stadium. Once we got there, sportsmanship kicked in as we faced our rival supporters Ghana. They had drums, flags, song, and laughter as we shook hands and talked smack all the same. The bets were on and it was game time.
When I got to my seat, it was almost as if time stopped. I had arrived. Tears formed in my eyes as I was realizing my existence in a real life dream. I was at my first ever men's World Cup. I was reporting from World Cup Brazil on a story not just important to the game of soccer but to my fellow American Indian community, moment of pure joy! My seat-mate, looked at me, gave me a hug and said, "aww, happy tears!" To which I responded, "I just can't believe I am here!" We laughed and cried together as the first whistle sounded.
It was a mere 30 seconds before U.S. captain Clint Dempsey gave the Stars and Stripes a 1-0 lead. It was the 5th fastest goal in the history of the World Cup. Arena Das Dunas went crazy! Cheers of celebration from the US side and shock for the Ghanaians. It might have been at that moment that I lost my voice because I don't think I could scream loud enough! Despite having gone down an early goal, the Ghanaian fans continued their upbeat drum and dance celebration. The party continued into halftime with U.S. up by one point.
Although we had the lead, we definitely took some injury losses in the first 45 minutes when U.S. striker Jozy Altidore tore his hamstring and Clint Dempsey broke his nose. Aron Johannson and Chris Wondolowski started warming up, but Johannsson got the nod. Ghana scored a second half equalizer but it wasn't enough for Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's genius substitution in center back John Brooks who scored a header off an 86th minute corner from Graham Zusi to clinch the 2-1 victory. This marked Brooks' first ever goal and World Cup goal with the men's national team. Brooks told his teammates on Sunday that he'd dreamt he'd scored a goal off a header in the 86th minute to win the game 2-1. Quite the premonition and dream come true for Brooks, literally.
The living dream was in progress with the first victory in the Group of Death under our belts, putting us one game closer to making it out alive. We celebrated hard that night with late night bites and more song and dance. I managed to make it out to the beach in the morning for some agua de coco and a dream game of footy with some fellow travelers before my flight back to São Paulo. It doesn't get much better than this.
Temryss Lane, Lummi Nation, is aNike N7 Ambassador, a former professional and Team USA soccer player, and was a contributor for the Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports Network. In 2010, Temryss represented the USA as the Official US Futbolita where she reported on the team's journey at the World Cup in South Africa. She is currently covering the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
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