June 26, 2014
By Michael Lewis
NO BIG LOSS
USA lose to Germany, still advance to round of 16
RECIFE, Brazil – The United States lost the battle on Thursday, but will get another opportunity to win another battle in the war.
|Omar Gonzalez saw his first action of World Cup 2014 against Germany on Thursday, and was instrumental in helping the US get through a scoreless first half.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The USA dropped a 1-0 decision to Germany in its final Group G match Thursday in front of 41,876 at Arena Pernambuco, but qualified for the Round of 16 anyway by goal differential over Portugal, 2-1 winners over Ghana also on Thursday. The Americans finished with a differential of zero, while the Portuguese, who could not recover after dropping a devastating 4-0 decision to Germany in its opener, completed the Cup with a minus three.
The Americans managed to finish second to the Germans (2-0-1, seven points) with a 1-1-1 record and four points. They were able to book a spot in the second round after Portugal (1-1-1, four points) defeated Ghana (0-2-1, one point) in a group match played at the same time.
When the final score of the Portugal-Ghana encounter was flashed on the scoreboard, a loud roar came from the stands as the American players applauded the result and the fans chanted, “USA, USA!”
Thomas Muller’s fourth goal of the competition was all the scoring the Germans needed.
For the first time in history, the Americans reached the knockout round of consecutive World Cups, duplicating their feat at South Africa 2014.
Next up is a team from Group H, most likely Belgium (2-0-0, six), which entered the day atop the group and was expected to finish there as well, with a meeting vs. Algeria later Thursday. The second-round match will be in Salvador on July 1.
USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann shook up his lineup from the 2-2 draw with Portugal, replacing two starters.
He pulled center back Geoff Cameron, who made a ghastly blunder that led to Portugal's first goal, for Omar Gonzalez. Gonzalez, though he is a designated player for the LA Galaxy, has proven to be something of a liability at the international level.
Klinsmann also replaced Alejandro Bedoya with Major League Soccer veteran Brad Davis, who made his first World Cup appearance at the age of 32. According to a U.S. Soccer official, that replacement was not injury-related. Perhaps Klinsmann wanted to use Davis' ability on free and corner kicks in a game in which a soft field could make for many dead-ball situations.
The Germans dominated the early minutes, probing the U.S. for weak spots in its midfield and defense. They did not get quality shot on goal as Lukas Podolski sent a shot from top of the penalty area over the crossbar in the second minute and Jerome Boateng shot an easy one-bouncer to goalkeeper Tim Howard in the fifth minute.
Howard was sharp in the early going, smothering a left-wing cross and not allowing it to become a dangerous scoring opportunity in the eighth minute.
Except for minor forays by the Americans into the opposing midfield, the relentless Germans kept on pushing forward, forcing Gonzalez to repel a shot from inside the penalty area in the 14th minute.
Gonzalez earned his pay again two minutes later when he tackled the ball away from a German player inside the box.
The USA finally started to retain some possession and push up and got a shot effort in the 19th minute, a rather weak effort by left back DaMarcus Beasley, an attempt that trickled wide left.
Three minutes later, Graham Zusi had the Americans' best scoring chance to date, launching a 20-yard shot from the left side that curled just over the top of the bar. Jermaine Jones started that sequence with a counterattack and a pass to Michael Bradley, who fed Zusi.
German midfielder Mesut Ozil tried to test Howard from the left side in the 35th minute, as he fired a roller that the keeper blocked and scampered to pick up the rebounds before any damage could be done.
Gonzalez, however, was awarded a yellow card by referee Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan) three minute later for tripping Bastian Schweinsteiger in the midfield.
At halftime, Germany coach Joachim Low decided to pull Podolski for 37-year-old striker Miroslav Klose.
The Germans finally broke the ice in the 54th minute. After Brad Davis cleared a cross over the goalline for a corner kick, Howard blocked a shot with both his hands. The rebound came to Muller at the top left of the box and the striker whacked a hard, 20-yard shot into the lower right corner for a 1-0 German advantage.
Klinsmann made his first substitute in the 59th minute, replacing Davis with Bedoya.
If the Americans advanced, they would have to play with midfielder Jermaine Jones, who picked up his second yellow of the competition by tripping Schweinsteiger in the 62nd minute.
Two USA players went down in the 74th minute when Bedoya, dribbling to his right, collided with Jones in the German defensive third. Jones needed to be taken off the field on a stretcher.
While Jones was looked at by the USA doctor, the Germans made a sub, Mario Goetze coming on for Schweinsteiger in the 76th minute.
Jones returned to the fray a couple of minutes later.