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USA soccer: 'I Believe'

By Adrian Hanauer
updated 3:26 PM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
American fans celebrate on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach after the United States beat Ghana 2-1 in a World Cup match Monday, June 16, in Natal, Brazil. Today is the fifth day of the soccer tournament, which is being held in 12 cities across Brazil. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/15/football/gallery/world-cup-0615/index.html'>See yesterday's best photos</a> American fans celebrate on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach after the United States beat Ghana 2-1 in a World Cup match Monday, June 16, in Natal, Brazil. Today is the fifth day of the soccer tournament, which is being held in 12 cities across Brazil. See yesterday's best photos
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World Cup: The best photos from June 16
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World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
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World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
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World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
World Cup: The best photos from June 16
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Adrian Hanauer says the U.S. team wasn't supposed to beat Ghana at World Cup but did
  • He says victory filled with grit, determination, mental toughness -- perfectly America
  • The U.S. team next faces Portugal on Sunday

Editor's note: Adrian Hanauer is owner and general manager of the Seattle Sounders FC, arguably the most popular American soccer franchise right now. You can follow the team on Twitter @SoundersFC. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- "I believe that we will win!"

The refrain is consistently chanted by the American Outlaws, the supporters group for the U.S. national soccer team, and it now rings truer than ever.

We weren't supposed to win. But we did.

The opening match of the World Cup against Ghana was a must-win for the U.S. team -- anything short of a victory, and the red, white and blue would have faced a seemingly insurmountable hill to climb.

Adrian Hanauer
Adrian Hanauer

The Americans were given little chance of winning against their nemesis, Ghana. The team from Western Africa had beaten the U.S. twice before in the World Cup -- knocking it out of contention in 2010 as well as four years earlier.

This time was supposed to be no different. Tough conditions. Untimely injuries. A late equalizer. Everything pointed toward the Americans wilting in the Brazilian humidity.

We weren't supposed to win. But we did.

Americans don't follow the world's script. Rising to the world's stage from vastly different backgrounds, these Americans stayed united -- symbolic of our great nation. When adversity struck, they battled. They persevered. They won with typical American character and diversity.

Monday's victory sets the stage for a major match Sunday against Portugal -- which Germany downed 4-0. The winner will be one step closer to the ultimate Cup.

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But it really confirmed to the rest of the world that U.S. football (OK, we also call it soccer) will not go gently into that good night. No way.

In the end, two American heroes of completely different backgrounds provided the scoring punch that stunned Ghana. Clint Dempsey, born in Nacogdoches, Texas, and John Anthony Brooks, born in Berlin.

Dempsey is a player we are proud to have wear the Seattle Sounders FC kit, and Brooks is an up-and-comer in the German Bundesliga -- or football league -- with Hertha BSC.

Dempsey, the 31-year-old captain, is playing in his third World Cup, while Brooks, the 21-year-old newcomer, is making his competitive debut as an emergency substitute. Dempsey played the creative genius for a workmanlike U.S. team, and Brooks stood tall as a powerful 6-foot-4 defender.

Their goals were reflective of their personality. Dempsey brilliantly allowed the ball to pass through his legs on his way to three wicked touches with his right foot, setting up his left peg for a drive to the far post just 29 seconds into the match. Then, loping forward on a late corner kick, Brooks rose above the Ghanaian defense to drive his header low and hard, just out of the reach of the goalkeeper in the 86th minute.

As the final whistle blew, the reactions were priceless. Players born in all corners of the United States celebrated with their teammates from Iceland, Germany and Norway. German-born head coach Jurgen Klinsmann embraced his Austrian assistant coach, Andy Herzog. Some 20,000 fans who traveled to Brazil from the United States sang and danced in excitement. And tens of millions of Americans back home watched the whole scene unfold, evoking national pride for the greatest melting pot on Earth.

The victory was perfectly America. Grit. Determination. Mental toughness. It was American diversity coming together for a common goal. It was a team, cobbled together over the past three years, which had a singular focus on beating Ghana.

The World Cup has just begun for the Americans. And there is much work left to do. But a soccer nation back home in the United States is energized, emboldened, hopeful.

With old-fashioned American character and ingenuity, the U.S. national team is poised to do great things in Brazil. Just one game into the tournament, and the country is captivated. Americans can relate to this group of soccer players, whose diversity and spirit is akin to that of their supporters.

"I believe that we will win!"

And we will do it the American Way.

You see, we weren't supposed to win. But we did. And we will.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

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