USA loses to advance

In group G, the Group of Death, there was a lot of talk that the Germans and US might have an gentleman's agreement to play to a draw, so both would advance.

Then it appeared likely that the game would be cancelled, as Recife was experiencing severe flooding, and it was very difficult to drive the hour out of town to get to the stadium.  But everyone made it, eventually, and the game went on as scheduled.

Well, it quickly became apparent that there was no agreement, as the Germans came out firing, getting several chances in the opening minutes.

A pass across the box to Mueller in the eighth minute was one of those chances, where Mueller jumped at the ball, leg outstretched, but it was a foot or so off.  A minute later, the Germans had a corner that was immediately played out, leading to another corner.  That one ended up with two Germans interfering with each other, to keep either from having a very good chance.

The US played up, and there was a foul on the play.  Odd that the ref stopped play immediately, instead of allowing US to continue play upfield.  Regardless, the possession lasted well over a minute and was the longest that the US managed in the entire game.  And they never even threatened to score.

The Germans came back fairly quickly, and in next several minutes forced Gonzalez to break up a couple plays across to Mueller.

Things went back and forth a bit less eventfully for a while after that, but the Germans did force a really good save out of Howard in the thirty-fourth.

A few minutes later, a nice through pass was put to Podolsky, but his pass across the box went to Howard.

A minute later, the US managed to get a corner, but the cross flew over everyone.

That was it for chances in the first half, but it was certainly clear that the battle lines were drawn.

In the second half, Germany was even more aggressive in going for the net.  Klose, who had just come in, had a great chance in the air in the 50th, but the serve across was off by an inch or two and he was unable to put it on net.

A few minutes later, Howard made a fantastic save off a shot in close, but the rebound bounced all the way out to the edge of the box, to the right of Howard, where Mueller was waiting to pound it into the far corner of the net.

Almost ten minutes later, the US managed a bit of a threat with a long pass from Bradley to Jones, which forced Neuer to come thirty-five yards out of his net to break up the play (see foreshadowing here to the Germany game against Algeria).

The US might have had another threat on the counterattack a couple minutes later, but there was a breakdown in communication that kept the ball from moving upfield quickly enough.

In the 69th, the US got a pair of corner kicks, and were threatening on the second one until Jones and Bedoya ran into each other at speed, breaking Jones' nose and knocking Bedoya down.  Both ended up continuing, but it didn't look good.

While they were being looked at, Schweinsteiger went out for Goetze.  Seems like an odd substitution; wonder what the reasoning was.

In any event, the Germans continued attacking, and Gonzalez was called upon again in the 82nd, to break up a diagonal run into the box by Hoewedes.

A couple minutes later, the US threated again, until a miscommunication by Bedoya and Dempsey broke up the play.

The Germans brought the ball back down after that, and Gonzalez again broke up the play, although the offside flag went up anyway.

The US managed a final offensive push just before the end of the game, in stoppage time.  The first of them was pushed outside by Neuer, where it was retrieved by the US and crossed back in before Neuer could get back into position.  Dempsey was on the receiving end, but headed it over the goal from only a few feet out.

Although the score was 1-0, the US was never in danger of winning the game.  And they wer definitely watching the progress in the other game.  Although they were never in position to be eliminated, they were very worried when Ghana pulled even with Portugal.  But Ronaldo delivered a second goal for the Portuguese to win the game, which ensured US moving on.

The US performance was very uneven, although maybe it showed some weakness at the German back end.  But the US couldn't get the ball up front; I think Dempsey only had two or three touches (one of which came via him coming back well into the midfield).

Really, the only two Americans who consistently looked good were Jones, who made some great runs upfield, and Gonzalez, who was the rock in the defense.  Let's hope they can improve.

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