The United States Men’s National Soccer team was just seconds of way from doing the impossible: making it out of the “group of death.” As the final seconds of stoppage time winded down, fans in Manaus were on their feet hugging and high-fiving each other as it had all but appeared the United States had booked their ticket to into the Round of 16. But once the impossible was about to happen, the improbable happened. With just less than thirty seconds left to play in the game, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo put a perfectly placed cross to the left hand side of the net, right where his teammate Silvestre Varela was running full speed. Varela headed the ball into the back of the net, and with it the collective gut punch was felt throughout America.

How could team USA claw and scratch back into a game they were losing 1-0, just to give it away on the last play of the game? It seemed like a cruel and sick joke the soccer gods had played on us. This is the challenge the United States team faces when they meet Germany on Thursday, June 25th. Team USA needs to put the heartbreak of their 2-2 draw with Portugal behind them and focus on what’s in front of them, Die Mannschaft.

The United States is in a unique position when they meet Germany with the top spot in Group G on the line: they control their own destiny. A win and they win the group. A draw, and they place second in the group and they advance to the next round. A loss and the dream could be dead.

Germany is the 2nd ranked team in the World, and arguably the first after defending Champions, Spain were humiliated during group play. They are coming off a first round beating of Portugal 4-0 in which 2010 Golden Boot winner, Thomas Muller netted a hat trick in the match. In their second game in Group G, it took a herculean effort by all-time German goal scorer Miroslav Klose in the final minutes to draw with Ghana 2-2.

Germany has nothing they need to prove against the currently heartbroken U.S. There is no bad blood, no vendetta, no rivalry, and no obnoxious player of the year to worry about. It’s simply big brother with all his trophies and accolades on the shelf, against little brother looking up dreaming of being just like him.

To say that there is plenty of intrigue surrounding this game is an understatement. Yet the intrigue in this match is different than it was against Ghana or Team Ronaldo, this is personal, literally. Team USA has five German born players on their squad, most of whom were German throwaways. As in the case in most things, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and the five players on the United States; Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, Tim Chandler, John Brooks and Julian Green were given an opportunity with Jurgen Klinsmann and the United States. An opportunity they are making the most of. Brooks scored a game winning header off the bench in the United States opening round match against Ghana, and Jones netted the equalizer in their last game against Portugal.

“It’s not the point to beat a friend or something, it’s the point to come to the next round. If we lose and the other teams lose, too, and we come to the next round- everybody’s happy. This is the point. We have to come to the next round.” Jones told the media on Tuesday.

Jones is right, it’s not about friends, it’s about getting to the next round. Which both teams can do with a draw come Thursday. A draw and Germany wins the group, the United States finishes second. Old friends with old allegiances and new friends with new roles and new opportunities will be the theme on Thursday. USA Coach Jurgen Klinsmann is German. The Berlin born, now California resident coached the German National Team at the World Cup in 2006. At that tournament, Germany finished third and by Klinsmann’s side was loyal friend and assistant, Joachim Loew. Current head coach of Germany.

It’s hard to imagine that the two friends would collude to ensure each of them a place in the second round of the tournament, but Klinsmann did remind his old friend at the press conference on Tuesday that the Germans were essentially already through to the knockout round based on their superior goal differential to everyone else in the group. When asked by a reporter if he has been speaking with Low recently, Klinsmann replied:

“Jogi is doing his job. We are good friends, and I am doing my job. My job is to get everything done to get us into the Round of 16 and that is what I’m going to do. There is no time now to have friendship calls. That time is done.”

However Klinsmann did add that the German staff under Loew is “pretty much the same as I left it.”

One of those staff members is current Germany assistant Hansi Flick who worked under Klinsmann in 2006. Flick is saying all the right things publicly insisting, “We won’t play for a draw.”

Klinsmann is saying the right things publicly as well leading up to the match, adding, “We will go to Recife and we will give everything to beat Germany. That is our goal.”

The United States last played Germany in a friendly tune-up in Washington last May. The Americans won that match 4-3, and the optimist in me expects another such “friendly tune-up” on Thursday.

The game is set to kick off at 12:00PM EST at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife. It can be seen on ESPN and in Spanish on Univision. If you want to live stream the match, simply go to WatchESPN here and  here for a live stream in Spanish.