We may have lost the battle, but we won the war. We may have lost the game, but we escaped the group of death. Everyone outside of the U.S. doubted us, and we proved them wrong. But we’re not here for a eulogy, because business isn’t finished yet. We’re here to look at the U.S.’s proud performance against the Germans.
My quick thoughts (Kyle is stepping in for Dan on this one.)
(Editor’s note – Editors fault this wasn’t posted a few days back, lost in the World Cup shuffle, better late than never.)
I start off with my Man of the Match for the U.S. I tweeted before the game that I didn’t understand why he was starting. Perhaps he was finally fully fit to play, and was Klinsmann’s number one option all along. Maybe this was Klinsmann’s way of punishing Geoff Cameron for his gaffs on both of Portugal’s goals. But man – what a game from Gonzo. He had a few mishaps that I can think of (whiffed inside the six yard box on a cross and a marking error), but was an absolute beast in the back. The Matt Besler we saw against Portugal is exactly what Omar Gonzalez was against Germany. If you were someone that blamed Gonzalez for the goal at the end of the Portugal game, what’s up?
People were calling for Mix Diskerud to start in place of Michael Bradley for this game, and my advice to those people is to stop believing everything you read on the internet. I’d rather lose with Bradley out there than lose with Diskerud on the field.
Again, Jermaine Jones puts in another solid performance. You could argue that Jones was the MVP* in the Group of Death.
*Before criticizing, please realize the difference between Most Valuable Player, and Most Outstanding Player.
This game was exactly what we feared when Jozy got injured and Klinsmann changed our formation to a 4-5-1. With Germany pressing on the USA defense, Davis/Bedoya and Zusi had to track back to help. When transitioning to offense, Dempsey was called upon to hold up the ball to allow the midfield to transition to offense. As soon as Dempsey got the ball, Hummels and Mertesacker suffocated him and often took the ball off of him before the midfield could catch up.
Many questioned his insertion into the starting 11. He didn’t screw up, so I would consider that a success.
Beckerman and Jones go together like peas and carrot. What allows Jones to roam the field is Beckerman staying central and being a rock on the defensive side of the ball. What an animal he has been.
The Back Four
One word: stout.
I’ve been saying all tournament that Tim Howard is the most underrated player on this team. He probably wishes he could’ve punched the save before Muller’s goal further towards the sideline, but it was a fantastic effort just to make the first save. He never recovered to make the save on Muller’s shot, but Howard logged another excellent performance against Germany.
For the 3rd game in a row, Klinsmann’s tactics bode well for the U.S.. Any time Podolski, Ozil, Gotze, and co. got the ball on the wings, Johnson, Beasley, Davis, and Zusi were quick to collapse on them. With Germany playing four centerbacks, Klinsmann allowed Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Howedes to have free reign on the wings. He knew that they couldn’t cross the ball in to the box, because they play centerback on their club teams, but Joachim Loew has been playing them as fullbacks. If Germany wanted to beat the U.S., Klinsmann didn’t want them to beat them in their typical German fashion. Klinsmann let Germany cross in balls all game long, but the U.S. defense was superb. Boateng and Howedes attempted nine crosses, with just two of them not being cleared by the U.S.. In fact, Germany only completed 5% (4 of 20) of their total crosses.
Klinsmann realizes that substitutions don’t carry over, right? After inserting speed in to the lineup in the 59th minute by bringing on Bedoya for Davis, I expected the game to open up a bit, or that Klinsmann was going for the draw. When the 70th minute rolled around and there was no sign of anyone warming up, I began scratching my head. DeAndre Yedlin came on for Graham Zusi in the 84th minute and made an immediate impact, nearly setting up a goal. It was too-little too-late, and Klinsmann left a substitution in his pocket when the final whistle blew.
The U.S. has some tired legs out there. It became apparent during parts of this game. Their central midfield of Bradley, Beckerman, and Jones have covered 23.6, 20.8, and 20.2 miles respectively, which respectively ranks 1st, 14th, and 26th overall among all players in World Cup rankings. We were already at a slight disadvantage going into this game – having one less day of rest than the Germans. Finishing 2nd in the group actually benefits us as far as rest and fatigue is concerned, as Germany plays on Monday and we play on Tuesday.
ESPN generated its largest viewership for the 48 World Cup group stage games. ESPN has done an amazing job covering the World Cup considering they won’t get it back until 2026 at the earliest. It’s worth noting that the WatchESPN app crashed at one point during the game because more people were trying to use the app than ESPN expected.
We put in a solid performance against the Germans. We lost, and Keith Olbermann is mad about that for some reason, but we did what we had to do to advance. Like I’ve said previously: all that matters is the result.
*Miles covered stats provided by Ben Jata: https://twitter.com/Ben_Jata/status/482592003327557633
**USA-Germany stats provided by http://world-cup-2014.squawka.com/usa-vs-germany/26-06-2014/world-cup/matches