The U.S. men’s national soccer team lost to Germany 1-0 in the last match of Group G in the World Cup, will advance after Portugal beat Ghana 2-1.
“This is a huge, huge step, and now we can’t wait until round of 16,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said afterward, according to ESPN. “Everyone said we had no chance. We took the chance and move on. And now we really want to prove a point.”
Thursday’s theater was eerily similar to how the Americans advanced in 2002, when they lost the group finale to Poland but advanced because Portugal lost to South Korea in a game played simultaneously.
“It’s a special day,” said midfielder Jermaine Jones, who suffered what he believes is a broken nose after colliding with teammate Alejandro Bedoya in the second half. “We lose the game, but it’s a nice loss. Trust me, it’s nice.”
For 90 minutes, though, Arena Pernambuco was inundated by rain and tension. With the Americans heading toward defeat, the other group match would determine their future.
This will be the U.S. men’s second consecutive trip to the knockout round. Their next game comes Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, when they will most likely face Belgium.
Germany dominated ball possession, 60% to 40% in the first half, as the U.S. continued to give away passes. Midfielders Jermaine Jones, who put in another monster performance, and Kyle Beckerman were forced to work overtime to recover lost balls.
There were nervous moments for the Americans when news came in from Brasilia that Ghana had tied Portugal, 1-1. A Ghana victory by two goals would have eliminated the U.S. But Cristiano Ronaldo’s late goal for Portugal took the pressure off for the final dozen minutes or so.
The first U.S. shot of any significance didn’t come until 22 minutes into the game when Graham Zusi’s blast from the left side of the box fizzed over. But those opportunities were few because of the lack of possession, says the Time.
Germany’s breakthrough came after 55 minutes when Tim Howard parried out a Per Mertesacker header, but Mueller collected the loose ball on the edge of the area and superbly side-footed into the bottom corner.
Germany coach Joachim Loew was also full of praise for man of the match Mueller in his post-game comments.
“He is very difficult for any opponent to figure out. It’s difficult to stand up to him, he’s very smart and always finds a way into he area. You get them impression it’s so easy for him,” Loew said.
The U.S. were pleased to progress to the knockout stage from a tough group with both Germany and Portugal ranked by FIFA among the top four teams in the world.
“Everyone said we had no chance, but we took the chance and we move on and now we really want to prove a point,” Klinsmann said. “The commitment was great, I wish we had more possession and created more chances but maybe we are saving that for the next one. It is huge, huge step and now we can’t wait for the round of 16.”