Preview: USMNT v Germany

After a wild and rousing 4–3 win over the Netherlands on Friday, the US Men’s National Team takes on World Cup winners Germany on Wednesday (2:45 pm: Fox Sports 1, UniMas, Univision Deportes). While the result against the Dutch was hugely encouraging, the defensive frailties exposed in that match remain, and it is a certainty that Germany will not be so cavalier as Holland in protecting their own goal.

Lessons learned?

Against the Dutch, the US was repeatedly beaten by balls in the air. John Brooks and his partners were unable to get heads on balls that resulted in two goals and could have resulted in more. Brooks is a very good player, and one shaky game against excellent opposition doesn’t mean much, but hopefully work has been done in the training ground to ensure that the center backs understand their spacing better.

Equally as important, though, is denying wing players the time and space to send in such good crosses. Memphis Depay was especially dangerous against Timmy Chandler, often cutting inside or taking short corners and creating space for himself. While the Germans have no one with the speed of Depay, wingers like Andre Schurrle have more than enough pace and trickery to give the best fullbacks problems. Staying tight and in front of the German wings will be imperative.

Hold the center

For all the talk of defending crosses, however, the Germans don’t have much height up front, and aren’t likely to play aerially. Not when they have arguably the finest No. 10 in the world in Mesut Ozil manning the creative control center. Whether he plays through the center or on the left in a 4-3-3, Ozil is a master at creating space and finding passing lanes that no one else can see. Given free rein, he will find Schurlle and Mario Gotze at will. Kyle Beckerman, Danny Williams, Perry Kitchen—whoever plays in defensive midfield will have his work cut out for him getting in Ozil’s face and disrupting his rhythm. And the wide players in the US diamond will need to be disciplined as well, providing help defensively.

How to beat the Germans

I have a secret to tell you . . . the Germans are really, really good. Like, I could tell you they’re the best team in the world and you’d be all like, “I don’t believe you,” and I’d be like, “If only there was a way we could prove conclusively that the Germans were the best team around,” and then I’d remember the World Cup last summer and send you the tape. Now look, tournament football doesn’t always reveal the best team. But in this case it most certainly did. Germany was the best squad at the World Cup, with a handful of the best players surrounded by a supporting cast to rival many teams’ starting 11s. There is no key to beating them, because they don’t have any major weaknesses.

But as we all know, soccer doesn’t follow logic, and on any given day, most teams can beat most other teams. The US is no minnow, as Belgium discovered last summer, and as Germany will recall from the last time the two teams met, when the US lost just 1–nil. The meeting before that, the US won 4–3. The US actually has a winning record against the Germans, if you can believe it, and is 4-1-0 in the last five meetings. All the US will need to do is defend with abandon, staying compact and composed, counterattack swiftly, take what chances come its way, and hope for a little luck. Easy, right?

So will it happen?

In a word, no.

The Germans, like the Dutch, are all coming off of long European club seasons, which followed on the longest World Cup run of any team in the tournament, so fatigue—of both the mental and physical varieties—could be a factor. But the fact is that the Germans are just too much, and playing at home. Late in the match, after subs start messing around with chemistry, things might get crazy, and the US could sneak a goal at some point, but this looks like a mark in the loss column. While I was more than happy to be wrong about the Netherlands game, this one goes 3–1 to the Germans.


  1. Umm……Good luck?

  2. When will the National Team get a new crest? The US with a soccer ball between them is so outdated. And I get we have the stars and stripes on our flag but I don’t like having them on our crest because a star for the rest of the world signifies that they won the World Cup and having stars on our crest make us look like wannabe posers.

  3. Eh. Just show well. Losing is fine, right now. Just don’t get the doors blown off.

    • Phew. Maybe….but….I’m thinking smooth clean clinical lovely German football. Easy win.
      I’m thinking we lose 2-0 but are very clear in our recognition we don’t belong on the field with them. I have no doubt if we played Germany in game two of the World Cup it is a 4-0 defeat…easy. We were fortunate to draw them last.
      …even without Neuer, Kroos, Reus and Muller and a patsy in next qualifier game.
      The beating we gave them in pre-cup friendly last year means nothing.
      Kind of like shooting poorly in a practice cause its a feeler out round then winning the same tournament.

  4. First, the Netherlands… Now, the Germans? Bobby Wood, welcome to the international scene.

  5. Crazy………….I guess we are ready for the Gold Cup!

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