The USMNT camp were left in total awe of John Anthony Brooks following the Hertha Berlin centre-back's man-of-the-match display against Paraguay in the Copa America Centenario on Saturday.
The ten-man Stars and Stripes edged an entertaining contest 1-0 to book their place in the quarter-finals of the competition, but the tournament hosts know it could have been an entirely different story were it not for the imperious Brooks.
'A special performance'
"I think John Brooks, with a performance like this, I guess all of Europe is watching that," USMNT head coach Klinsmann told media after the game. "You're just impressed by the learning curve that a younger player goes through and you are happy for that process. A year ago a lot of people were very critical of him. He has to have those experiences. He needs to make mistakes to grow. There's no growth without failure, for nobody. So he grew."
As Klinsmann was only too happy to point out, Brooks marshalled the back line with a level of maturity that belied his 23 years, yet there was one particular moment that will live long in the memory: a last-gasp challenge, timed to absolute perfection, to deny Paraguay forward Miguel Almiron a certain goal with the game just 11 minutes old. "It was definitely a special performance," the former FC Bayern München boss concluded.
'He's got a bright future'
Unsurprisingly, the plaudits continued to rain down long after the final whistle. "I don't think it's just his growth in the tournament," added USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who arguably had the best view of the match-defining incident. "It's his growth in the last 12 months, playing week in and week out in Germany. That's what playing consistent football does for a young player. He's been great for us and you guys are starting to see what we see in training."
Of all the glowing post-match reviews, however, it was perhaps USMNT midfielder Alejandro Bedoya who best hit the nail on the head when quizzed on Brooks' superhuman efforts: "Man, he was a beast, man - winning every freaking header in the box. He's got a bright future."