World Cup

World Cup Recap: USMNT 0–1 Germany

On a very soggy night in Recife, the U.S. held a dynamic German team at bay, and while they lost the match, 1–0, Portugal’s 2–1 win over Ghana sent them through to the next round of the World Cup.

First half

The U.S. made two changes to the team that tied Portugal. On the left, Brad Davis came in for Alejandro Bedoya, and in central defense, Omar Gonzalez replaced Geoff Cameron. The rest of the team remained the same.

The first moments of the game showed that the rain-soaked surface would be very slow, making running a more and more difficult task, and making quick passing moves even harder. While both conditions would seem to favor the United States, the Germans came out their dominant best, owning possession for long stretches, and testing the U.S. defense on multiple occasions.

The early thrusts came down the U.S.’s left flank, where a lack of support from Davis was leaving DaMarcus Beasley unprotected. Germany right back Jerome Boateng had time to send in several dangerous crosses, and on the other side, Lukas Podolski did the same. Save for one very poor first clearance, which could have gone into his own net, Gonzalez was strong, getting down for tackles and heading away flighted balls. Tim Howard had sure hands, too, doing well to hold the ball in wet conditions.

The U.S. team, however, seemed unable to hold the ball at all on offense until the 10th minute, when a U.S. break was called back for a foul by Benedikt Höwedes on Fabian Johnson, rather than giving the U.S. advantage. After that, the U.S. grew into things, with both fullbacks getting involved.

Around the 20th minute, Davis and Graham Zusi swapped sides, giving Beasley more protection, and it nearly paid immediate dividends. A good U.S. break led to Zusi cutting in from the left onto his right foot and fizzing a shot just over the bar.

With the defense gaining in confidence, the U.S. started creating more. While Germany still controlled more possession, the U.S. looked like they could make things happen on the break. In the 28th, Johnson ran down a Bradley through ball. His cutback cross was headed toward Jermaine Jones, but Jones was soon on the floor, after receiving a shoulder check from the referee (accidentally, of course). Then, in the 33rd, Bradley sent in a pinpoint ball over the top to Jones. Had he brought it down, Jones would have had a one-on-one with the keeper, but he could not.

Germany was not idle, of course. In the 35th, after finding crosses ineffective, Thomas Müller played a ball on the floor to Mesut Özil in the U.S. box. After a good cutback onto his left foot, he sent a shot through Matt Besler’s legs that Howard did very well to parry.

In the 37th, Bradley nearly found Dempsey over the top with another great lob, but again it came to nothing. And, Bradley would have the chance to take a shot from the center-top of the Germany box on 45 minutes, but could not handle Jones’s pass, and the chance flitted away.

Gonzalez would earn a yellow card for stopping a German break just after that, but the half would end scoreless, a result with which the U.S. could be very pleased.

Second half

Feeling the need for a target man, Miroslav Klose, joint all-time World Cup top scorer, came on at the half for Podolski. The change in personnel immediately benefited the Germans, who began the second half much like they began the first: in control.

Klose nearly made his mark after just a few minutes, when he found himself free behind the U.S. back line, with Beasley and Besler both claiming in vain for offside. The ball to him was just too high, though, and the chance passed.

However, it would not be long before Germany’s pressure told. A German free kick resulted in a German corner. The first ball was taken short, but the second ball was sent into the six yard box. Per Mertesacker’s header was heading for the bottom corner, but Howard got down brilliantly to save. Unfortunately, the ball squirted to the edge of the box where Müller was lurking. His technique was brilliant, and he side-footed the ball into the far corner with one touch, leaving Howard no chance.

With news from the other game in the group showing Ghana and Portugal tied, the game entered a very tense phase. Another goal from Ghana would eliminate the U.S. Germany looked comfortable, and didn’t pressure the U.S. high up the pitch, confident that the U.S. would be unable to hurt them.

For the most part, that was true. Heavy legs seemed to take a toll and nothing quite came off for the U.S. Alejandro Bedoya replaced Davis on the hour mark, but could not lift his teammates with his fresher legs.

As the game approached the latter stages, Germany again looked to threaten, bringing on Mario Götze and eventually Andre Schürlle. But the U.S. defense held strong, with Besler making an important tackle in the box on Özil.

After 83 minutes, Jürgen Klinsmann brought on DeAndre Yedlin, again hoping to use the young fullback’s speed in midfield. The change seemed to enliven the U.S. somewhat, and they finished the game strong. Yedlin nearly made a crucial contribution just after coming on. After receiving a dinked pass from Dempsey, he had a crossing opportunity from the end line, but ballooned it well high. Then, in the 85th, the first truly dangerous U.S. counterattack of the half ended with Dempsey just not finding Bedoya in the box.

Finally, in the 3rd minute of stoppage time, the U.S. put together it’s best move of the day and nearly equalized. The move pinged between Yedlin, Jones, and Dempsey before finding Bedoya streaking in for a shot from the left side, but German captain Philipp Lahm made a 60-yard recovery run and slid in to block the goal-bound shot.

With news having come some minutes before that Portugal had retaken the lead, the mood in the stadium was buoyant, as the U.S. would advance even with the 1–0 loss, and so it was. The U.S. players looked spent, but now should celebrate a very well-deserved survival of the Group of Death.

U.S. verdict

A loss is a win: While they will feel upset to have lost to Germany, and thus given control of their advancement up, the U.S. team should feel exceptionally proud of their accomplishments so far. The game against Portugal was truly a statement of intent, and while the last-second equalizer took some of the shine away, even had that result held, the outcome would be the same—the U.S. and Germany advancing, with Germany topping the group.

Omar Gonzalez calms the nerves: Gonzalez’s inclusion was a surprise, even given Geoff Cameron’s snafus against Portgual, and Gonzalez’s first touch did not inspire confidence. But after that, he played an immaculate game, and made multiple important interventions defensively.

Michael Bradley still not up to speed: Michael Bradley did not play poorly, but he can play much, much better. If he can find himself again, not only will the U.S. be more consistently dangerous, but it could very well beat it’s next opponent, which is likely to be…

Belgium awaits: With Belgium more than likely to top it’s group, the U.S. has a formidable opponent to look forward to in the next round. A year ago, the Belgians dismantled the U.S. in a friendly that was notable for being the one right before the U.S. turned things around and went on a dominant run of wins. Belgium had been picked by many to go deep into this tournament, but has looked decidedly average in its first two group games. Considering the performances against Portugal and now Germany, the U.S. should have confidence that it can compete against them this time around.

Final thoughts

Okay, the U.S. is through. Now what? With Jozy Altidore returning to fitness, the U.S. is looking quite strong going into the Round of 16. Klinsmann has done what many thought could not be done in emerging from such a difficult group, and his tactics and substitutions have been spot on 99 percent of the time.

The players have an opportunity now to do something special. They can play without fear, without pressure. Everything from here on out is gravy.

That said, they will focus on Belgium with deadly seriousness. There are no parades, no victory laps, for getting out of the group. If the U.S. wants to stake its claim to being a top soccer-playing nation, it needs to do more than that.

The United States has earned a lot of new fans these past two weeks. The Little World Superpower That Could has played with athleticism and commitment, but also invention and even flair, at times. The next page in the USMNT’s history book is as yet unwritten.

What will it say?


  1. “On Thursday, all of America will take enough because we have another game to play.”


  2. Gracias, Ronaldo.

    • Yup. until i realized it was because of him that this game meant more than it should have.

      • Timothy H says:

        Ehh, allittle drama never killed anyone. I’d say more thanks to Ghana’s GK…what was he doing on the second goal?

  3. If Jozy is back to fitness and ends up starting, that changes everything for this team, and for the better. Putting him up top frees Dempsey to move out of that lone striker position where he just disappears. It also allows Bradley to move back and be that true box-to-box midfielder, as opposed to staying high up in the formation.
    The lack of a true sub for Jozy (there is no real sub for him in the entire USMNT player pool) hurt this team. But if he’s available top play, expect much better showings out of our midfield, which will help us match up with Hazard and Fellani.
    This will be tough, obviously, but not as tough as the international press will make it out to be.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I agree… even without Jozy this is a very winnable game… with him… things get very interesting.

    • It’s hard to believe Jozy will be 100% for the next match. If he plays at all, it will not help the team. He has not been much of a help to the team when he is fully fit. Without him, they scored four goals in two matches, and then, Germany, but that’s Germany. I have not missed Mr Altidore at all.

      • I agree.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I think we need that guy, running off of Dempsey. Dempsey is not an all-out striker. He plays a bit withdrawn. That said, Jozy’s fitness is the factor. If he is really fit, his presence will really help us against the Belgium back line. Jozy can wear a back down. It’s all about him being, at least, 75-80% fit.

  4. I knew I could count on PSP to tell me that Michael Bradley did not play poorly. Thanks for being so reliable! (I kid, I kid, you guys are alright, but he su-ucked)

    • The guy ran 8 miles. After running 7 miles in the Jungle. No other player has covered more ground than him during the cup (this is an actual stat, not an opinion). His work rate is fantastic. It’s unfortunate the only way to shut you Bradley haters up is to sit him and get knocked out of the cup.

      • I have no hate, nor am I impressed with running. The way to shut up Bradley haters is for Bradley to play the way he did in S Africa. I think he should play, every minute of every match. He should be the best player for the US, but he has not been, for the first round. He just needs to play better. If he plays a good game against Belgium it will be an easy win for the US. I am just sorry he came to MLS. I think he would be playing better if he had stayed in Italy, but that’s just an opinion.

      • Old soccer coach says:

        Probably we are learning why he was no longer playing for Roma, why they replaced him with the Dutch midfielder whose name I don’t remember.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        You mean Kevin Strootman? The guy who would be starting for the Dutch if he was healthy? Strootman is one of the top central mids on earth, so Bradley falling behind him is no slight on his ability.
        I put his struggles down to the fact that he is playing 2 levels higher than he is used to. With Jozy’s injury, he is directly behind Dempsey the lone striker. He is still a smart passer and a good defender, but he is definitely having some growing pains as he learns a new position.

      • I am not a Bradley hater. As a matter of fact, the USMNT is totally rudderless without him but for people to say he is not playing as well because Altidore’s absence has pushed him up the field into an uncomfortable position is a bit misleading. I watched him play a lot of Roma games and he often found himself in the “10” role even if it was to move ball laterally or recycle. I don’t expect him to be a playmaker in those regards.
        Many of the errors Bradley is making are a result either of being exhausted because he is running so much or are because he is having a bad run of play. He is missing fundamental and pretty easy passes and making multiple questionable decisions, along with many many really good ones. My point is he needs to be crisper. He seems a bit nervy to me. As he goes the team goes though.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agree. Bradley is a much better than we are seeing…that’s the problem. He has been a bit of a let down, for whatever the reason. We need him to step up big on Tuesday!!!

  5. Timothy H says:

    The Gonzalez starting really scared me, but he looked good. You have to wonder why Cameron didn’t start, and who will start vs Belgium.

    • Boy pick your poison with Omar or Geoff. They are both gonna make mistakes and they are both going to do some things good. I’d take Geoff Cameron anyway.

  6. Too many think we have a good chance against Belgium. I don’t think so; think we’ll have to pack our bags afterwards. Belgium may not have been that good up to now but have plenty of quality to become much better.

    • Great players, not a great team. Yet.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        That was the scouting report on Portugal too, and they have more international experience. Belgium is full of talent, but continues not to know how to put it together. It will be a fascinating game.

      • looks to me like the Belgians have better balance in the squad, smaller egos, and a higher ceiling than Portugal but time will tell

      • Belgium hasn’t ever played on a stage as big as the Round of 16 (this iteration of their squad, anyway). If anything, for the first time maybe ever, the US has a major advantage in relevant experience.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Disagree. This was one of the weakest Portuguese teams in some time.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Agree, Guido. If we are to advance past Belgium, it would be an upset of epic proportions. They have one of the deepest, most balanced teams in the tournament. I think it is possible for the US to beat them but we, in no way, match up well.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        We match up extremely well. They do not have fullbacks who can provide width, allowing our fullbacks to focus on their 3 attacking mids who have struggled to find chemistry with either of their strikers. Fellaini, Witsel and Dembele are excellent players but can turn into dribbling/ turnover machines when the right amount of pressure is applied.
        Additionally, they do not get behind teams, rather try to slice through them. The US team defends very well when they can see the play, it’s when guys get in behind them, away from their view that they struggle.
        And believe me, I’m a fan of this Belgian team. I wrote the pro-Belgium post. But having watched them play three times, they are having a ton of problems connecting play at the different levels and they absolutely are beatable.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Belgium was my Dark Horse pick to win. That has gone to shite!
        I agree with your analysis…to a point. In regards to their fullbacks; we are much easier to defend without an all-out striker. (Bradley’s lack of high support has forced Dempsey to play in the 10 spot.) If Altidore can go, that changes. (I don’t see Jozy being able to shake the Hammy, in these conditions.)
        Jones is good at disrupting centralized play. If they can work around that and get to our CB’s, we will be in a tight spot. I see play going to Hazard and him preying on whichever outside back fades first. His crossing is some of the best in the game.
        Our chance rides on stout defending and smart counter-atacking.
        Belgium are a much better team. But, we have beaten Goliath’s before and if we carry over confidence, we can hang with them. We need to replicate the Portugal game. That was the best that I have ever seen an America team play!

      • Belgium was my pick to win it all but I like to pick the dark horses, and they have not played as well as I thought they would, and I think team USA should feel a certain level of confidence facing them.

      • The Black Hand says:

        They have looked mortal, many times during this tournament. They are a relatively young squad that lose composure at times. Many of their lapses appear to be mental. Experience together should remedy that. Belgium is going to be a very tough team in the coming years. Let’s hope that composure comes together some time in the future…after we send them home!!!

    • Belgium are my pick to end up in finals so that tells you what I think about their ability. They got off to a nervy start in game one and then pretty much assumed control despite some coordination of play issues.
      They are very good. That said, Chile made the Brazilians look pedestrian today so anything can happen when the sphincters tighten a bit.

      • The Black Hand says:

        We could take Belgium. It will take of lot of stars aligning, but we could do it. Altidore could find fitness and that would be massive. We will need to resurrect the composure we had against Portugal and play a smart/relatively mistake free match. It could happen!

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