NATAL, Brazil—Clint Dempsey scored the fastest goal by an American in World Cup history and the fifth-quickest ever, putting the United States ahead after 29 seconds of its opener against Ghana on Monday night.
DaMarcus Beasley, the first American to play in four World Cups, exchanged the ball with Dempsey on a throw-in on the left flank. Dempsey passed the ball to Jermaine Jones, who sent it on to Dempsey.
The U.S. captain played the ball from his left foot to his right, cut around John Boye and inside of Sulley Muntari, then beat goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey with a left-footed shot from 8 yards that went in off the far post. The quick goal set off raucous cheers from the red, white and blue-clad American fans at the other end of Arena das Dunas, who had just drowned out the recording of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Dempsey became the first American to score in three World Cups. Then a midfielder, Dempsey had goals in the 2-1 loss to Ghana in 2006 and the opening 1-1 tie against England four years ago. He became the first American forward to score at a World Cup since Brian McBride against Mexico in 2002.
The only faster goals at a World Cup were by Turkey’s Hakan Suker (11 seconds against South Korea in 2002), Czechoslovakia’s Vaclav Masek (16 seconds against Mexico in 1962), Germany’s Ernst Lehner (25 seconds against Austria in 1934), and England’s Bryan Robson (27 seconds against France in 1982).
The U.S. held a lead for less than three minutes at the 2010 World Cup, after Landon Donovan’s stoppage-time goal against Algeria, which propelled the Americans to the knockout rounds.
Dempsey finished the first half with a bloody nose after a kick to the face from Boye in a battle for a header in the 33rd minute. Dempsey returned to the field three minutes later, playing with tissue in his nose to stop the bleeding, which he later said was probably broken.