Friday, June 27, 2014

USA 2014 World Cup Watch-Escaping The 'Group Of Death'

Tim_howard_photo_credit-_winslow_townson-usa_today_sports_mediumThe USA went into their final Group G match with FIFA number 2 ranked Germany in pretty good shape despite the disappointing draw with Portugal.   

A win would put them atop the group, and a draw would allow them to well.  There was also conspiracy theory chatter before the game that speculated because a draw would suit both nations purposes and with all the interlocking connections both sides had, both teams would park the bus and play keep away for 90 minutes and a 0-0 draw.  

Even if they lost to the Germans, as long as Portugal beat Ghana in Brasilia and didn't score more than 5 goals the USA would advance to the knockout round that way. 

But on a soggy pitch in Recife in which torrential rain rain fell in the city and during much of the match Die Mannschaft blew that speculation out of the window.   They came out of the gate relentlessly attacking the USA who had one less day rest than they did.   Thanks to Tim Howard making some outstanding saves and Omar Gonzales doing yeoman's work to clear the crosses peppering the USA box the game went into the half drawn at 0-0.

The other thing making American fans less nervous about the game was hearing that Portugal was up 1-0 in their match with Ghana thanks to a John Boye own goal

Things changed after halftime with the insertion of Miroslav Klose into the game for Germany.   In the 55th minute Howard punched out an initial Per Mertesacker's header that unfortunately went right to Thomas Muller.

Muller blasted it past a diving Howard into the right corner for his fourth goal of the tournament.

To make things worse two minutes later word came from Brasilia that Ghana's Asamoah Gyan scored an equalizing goal to level that match at 1-1.   But Cristiano Ronaldo saved the day once again for his nation by burying a horrendous clearance in the 80th minute for what turned out to be the winning goal for Portugal and the one that sent the USA through to the knockout round. 

Jurgen Klinsmann, after the game.Meanwhile in stoppage time the USA was fighting to get on the board and had its two best scoring chances of the match.  A counter attack in which Alejandro Bedoya unleashed a laser toward the German goal but Phillipp Lahm's sliding challenge blocked it.   Then the ensuing cross fell to Dempsey at point blank range, but his header went agonizing over the crossbar to end with the Germans on top 1-0. 

Germany takes Group G as expected, but the USA for the second straight World Cup advances out of the group stage as the surprising to the soccer pundits Group G runners-up .   

They get to rest after a brutal travel schedule and prep for a short 420 mile trip for them to their knockout round date Tuesday July 1 in Salvador against Group H winner Belgium. 

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