Brazil 2014: World Cup Group G – USMNT 0-1 Germany
Losing and winning in the Recife rain; OTF’s Joe Maskivish brings the USMNT vs. Germany review…
Two weeks and nearly 9,000 miles have resulted in a graduation from the Group of Death.
We’ll get to the loss against Germany, but let’s just take a moment to acknowledge what the United States has accomplished. Vanquishing demons, going toe-to-toe against the best, and coming out smelling like roses is a new concept in American soccer.
No one wanted to give this team a chance and they used that as motivation. The overall play was improved, the skill level increased, the desire evident as always. Jurgen Klinsmann has indeed brought a new style of soccer to the States, as promised, and thus far the excitement evoked has been palpable.
The performance has not been flawless, however, and many of the same obstacles remain. Nowhere was this more evident than Thursday in Recife. The Yanks ran into the buzz-saw that is the world powerhouse known as Germany.
The German play was virtually immaculate and the Americans were hanging on from the opening kick to the final whistle. The bend-but-don’t-break game plan was seemingly working until the 55th minute, when Thomas Muller continued his red hot World Cup with a laser strike off a Tim Howard rebound.
It was at this point the feeling of potentially bursting floodgates was on the minds of all supporters.
Yet the defense continued to put in hard work. Matt Besler was a rock and Omar Gonzalez, getting his first start of the tournament, continuously cleared loose balls left in front of Howard.
It was evident from the start the German attack plan was to take on the American fullbacks and work crosses to the middle of the field. Both Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley did well to pressure the German wings, leaving the two center backs the task of cleaning up the penalty area.
The frustrating aspect for U.S. fans came from the center of the field into the attacking end. The Yanks had little-to-no bite in their charge and every possession appeared to falter in an absence of creativity.
While the passing out of the defensive end was superb, attempting to move the ball forward failed time and again. Thus the only pressure the Americans could place on the German backline was the long, home-run pass, which, oddly enough, usually saw Jermaine Jones attempting to chase down, not forward Clint Dempsey.
In the end, the match was a combination of Germany exercising their superiority and the U.S. avoiding the blowout loss. It was nice to see the U.S. continue to attack into stoppage time in the second half, not satisfied with a one goal loss that would still see them through.
Interestingly enough, the late attack stemmed from DeAndre Yedlin yet again pushing the ball forward and utilizing his speed. After two positive late-game substitutions by the young Seattle Sounder, one has to wonder if he might see more playing time going forward.
Taking a moment to step back and look at the big picture, this game is yet another victory for MLS. Seven of the eleven starters for the United States call Major League Soccer their home. While moral victories get you nowhere, the fact is MLS went head-to-head against Europe’s elite and held their own. This has to, at the very least, qualify as as hope for the future.
The U.S. may be going in the wrong direction in the win column (win–draw-loss), but the play has progressively improved from Ghana to Germany. Sure, the outcome was more positive against Portugal; but keep in mind this same German team ran the Portuguese off the field. The Germans ran the show against USMNT, but no one was run off the pitch.
While watching the U.S. fall to Germany was discouraging on the surface, the improved play from months past in the defensive end was encouraging. If, and it’s a huge if, Jozy Altidore can come back from his hamstring injury, perhaps the U.S. attack can find its teeth.
Much like the analysis moving from Ghana to Portugal, if the U.S. can possess the ball more in their game against Belgium, the chances of producing an offensive threat increase exponentially. Before moving onto the knockout round, let’s close the book on Germany:
Can the U.S. create speed on the attack to establish uncertainty on the German backline?
Not exactly. The U.S. essentially had little to no attack the entire match and shots were hard to come by.
Can the U.S. defense curb the red-hot Thomas Muller?
The lone goal of the match was scored by Muller. At this point in the tournament Neymar, Messi, and Robben are getting the headlines, but Muller has truly been a star.
Will the U.S. attack resemble that of a “dump and chase” variety?
The few times the U.S. was able to do anything on the German side of the field, long bomb passes in the direction of Jermaine Jones were all they could muster. These attempts were incredibly ineffective as the weight of the passes seemed heavy at all times.
If a draw appears most likely, will Klinsmann call off the dogs and take up a defensive posture?
We’re still wondering when the dogs will be called up, let alone called off.
Will we be celebrating a trip to the knockout round at the final whistle?
YES! On we go! This is the beauty of the World Cup: a loss is a win.
OTF Man of the Match: Omar Gonzalez
Once again, Jermaine Jones could have been selected in this position. This time, however, credit goes to the LA Galaxy defender. Gonzo’s ability to jump into the starting lineup and play a good 90 minutes is refreshing. So often scorned and scolded for his poor clearances, Gonzalez was continually driving the ball out of dangerous areas to relieve pressure.
Need more World Cup and USMNT chat?
OTF’s Joe Maskivish will be tracking USMNT’s World Cup preparations and progress until the boys come back from Brazil. Follow him @JoeMaskivish.