Germany beat the United States 1-0 on the final day for Group play on Thursday. The U.S. needed help from Cristiano Ronaldo in the other Group of Death match whose first goal of the World Cup, gave Portugal a 2-1 victory over Ghana and secured a place for the USA with a better goal differential in the tiebreaker.

Jurgen Klinsmann and former assistant, Joachim Loew did not hold back any punches as many thought the two friends would collude for a draw, before the match. Loew came after the U.S. often throughout the match, going hard for the victory.

Surprising or not, Klinsmann chose not to start the “goat” of the Portugal match Geoff Cameron. Cameron, if you don’t remember made two critical mistakes in the opening and closing minutes of last game that cost his team both Portugal goals. Starting in his place was Omar Gonzalez.

If there was any question whether or not Germany was going to come out and try and win this game, it was answered early as they were attacking quickly and frequently. As the rain poured down, the United States survived the storm as at the 30 minute mark, they were still deadlocked with Germany at 0-0.

The pro United States crowd went into a frenzy at the 31st minute mark when it was announced on the scoreboard that Ghana had given up an own goal! 1-0 Portugal was on top…for the time being at least.

A fun fact from the World Cup: no team thus far who has played in the heat and humidity in Manaus has been able to win their next game. Apparently 90 minutes in Manaus leaves you so depleted of electrolytes and minerals that it absolutely affects you physically days later.

A yellow card was given to Omar Gonzalez in the 37th minute for a foul on Thomas Mueller. There was a dangerous moment at the end of the half as Jermaine Jones tried to make a tackle on a German player and was almost shown a yellow card. A yellow, would have been his second and he would serve a one game suspension in the next match.

Shown Yellow Team USA's Gonzalez is shown yellow in the match against Germany Reuters

Tim Howard was very sharp in goal in the first half as the ESPN announcer Ian Darke called him “safety personified.”

The halftime whistle couldn’t have come fast enough as the torrential down pour soaked all the players on the pitch and the coaches. Absolutely miserable weather conditions for this match today. The sorcerer (Klinsmann) and his apprentice (Jogi Loew) headed into the locker rooms to make their adjustments.

Team USA Team USA huddles up in the rain in Recife Reuters

Germany’s coach, Joachim Leow countered first when he substituted all time World Cup goal scorer, Miroslav Klose into the game for the second half. Klose, guaranteed he would score a goal in the match against the United States and break Ronaldo’s all time record for goals in the World Cup. There was no doubt that Germany was going for the win with the move.

As I wrote in my predictions of this game, I felt the United States needed to make it to the 60-70 minute mark of this game with a tie. After that point in the match, I believed that both teams would lay off the gas.

Fans held their collective breath in the 51st minute when a Bastian Schweinsteiger cross missed the mark to Miroslav Klose who was wide open in front of the goal and headed it just to the right of the goal. It was a very intensely close moment ad the time for everyone involved.

Tensions were turned up a notch when Thomas Mueller scored his fourth goal of the tournament in the 54th minute of the match. Howard made the initial save, but the rebound came straight to Mueller who hit a perfect shot right into the lower right corner of the net.

Meuller's goal Germany's Thomas Meuller's shot gets just passed the outstretched arm of USA goalkeeper Tim Howard Reuters

After the Germany goal, Ghana tied up the match 1-1 with a goal by Asomoah Gyan at the Nacional in Brasilia in the other Group of Death match that was going on simultaneously. If that result held, the United States could still advance with the loss. One more goal by Ghana however, and the United States would be eliminated.

In the 59th minute, Klinsmann substituted Brad Davis for Alejandro Bedoya. Kyle Beckerman received a yellow card in the 62nd minute for a challenge on the ball. The crowd immediately rained down boos on the referee who did not call a foul on Germany for a hit on DeMarcus Beasley just seconds earlier. The game started to get chippy from this point forward.

The lack of rest and effects from Manaus started to rear their ugly head for Team USA in the second half, as they looked physically drained and appeared to have heavy legs. Germany could sense the United States fading physically and began to bring more men forward.

“We need to get as much rest as we can. Everybody came into this last game tired. You know, Germany is a top team and they made it difficult on us.” said USA goalkeeper Tim Howard after the match.

A nasty collision in the air between Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya resulted in both men colliding heads in mid air. Jones left the pitch bloody, while Bedoya was checked for a concussion. Earlier in this tournament, a Uruguayan defender had appeared to receive a concussion only to waive his coach off and stay in the game.

The United States got some help in the 79th minute as Cristiano Ronaldo finally scored a goal in the World Cup and Portugal took a 2-1 lead over Ghana. You could hear the crowd breathe a heavy sigh of relief as with ten minutes left in both matches, the United States held a three-goal lead over Portugal in the goal differential tiebreaker.

When the final whistle came and the news came down to Klinsmann and his team that they had advanced, the relief could not have been more evident. When asked how it felt to get out of the group, Klinsmann replied:

“It’s huge. Obviously we wanted a tie out of the game. Maybe in the beginning we had too much respect. It’s huge for us getting out of this group that everybody said we had no chance. It’s huge”

The United States next faces the winner of Group H, most likely Belgium, on Tuesday at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.

“We got through the group and on to the round of 16, but we have to do better. We will do better.” concluded Klinsmann


Game Notes:
Before the match, Jurgen Klinsmann had been unbeaten in his 14 games played in group play over his World Cup career as a player, and coach. Thomas Mueller’s goal against the U.S. gives him four for the tournament. Tied with Neymar and Lionel Messi for the Golden Boot lead.