Everything to play for Thursday as the USA and Germany met in a rainy Recife. Rainy might have been an understatement as the tropical rain had been falling for nine hours straight in the area. It was so bad that the Americans friends and family could not even get to the match because buses were unable to even get to the resort where they were staying.
There was pre-match drama everywhere. The rain. All the different advancement scenarios. The Ghana swquad saw Sulley Montari and Boateng both dismissed from the squad. The Portugal injuries. Rumors that the field in Recife might not even been playable at all for USA Germany.
All that aside the match kicked off on time in the midst of falling rain and it was clearly evident the Germans were quite serious. They were in no mood to play for a draw as they bossed the opening ten minutes. The Americans hardly got a touch at all, but they did sit in and defend fairly well keeping the Germans away from goal.
Finally the US pushed into the match and actually were able to put together some nice spells of possession. Aside from a couple of dangerous runs the red, white and blue didn't create any serious scoring opportunities other than a whistler from Graham Zusi that curled inches over the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Portugal had jumped ahead of Ghana thanks to an own goal. Good stuff for the US hopes. Either a draw there or slight Portugal win works way in our favor.
The match went to the break scoreless and things were right on track to advance from the Group of Death. What would the second half bring? Would the game slow at all? Would Klinsmann work his substitution magic again?
Low signaled the German intentions right off the bat as he introduced Klose to the German attack to start the second half. Another patient start to the half as they passed the ball from side to side probing. They looked to be in when Klose lingered back post as a cross flew in, but at the last second Omar Gonzalez raced in and broke up the play.
Klose was looking a real threat, but it was Muller that broke through. A short corner was fired in. Tim Howard made a great save on the initial shot punching the ball outside the box where Muller was waiting. He ripped a perfect shot into the far corner past the sprawling Howard. 1-0 Germany.
At the same time Ghana were scoring to bring their match to 1-1 with Portugal. Action stations now for sure. Character time for the US as they needed composure and play on. Get back to the way they were in the opening half. Hopefully, the Germans would take their foot off the gas a bit now that they had a lead. A 1-0 loss would not be the end of the world unless Ghana were to go on and score more in their game.
The game settled from there, but a nasty collision between Americans Bedoya and Jermaine Jones left both lying on the wet grass. Luckily the US had two subs remaining just in case. Play was stopped as both players were treated.
Fifteen minutes to go. The clock could not tick any faster could it? Flipping channels back and forth I was able to catch a massive Ghana goalkeeping mistake gift a goal to Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo! Great news for the USA! Looking safe now for sure with ten minutes to go. Ghana would need to score twice in the final minutes to flip things. Currently the US and Portugal sit on four points, but the Americans hold a better goal differential by three.
Zusi off DeAndre Yedlin on as advancement was getting closer. The US almost nicked it at the end producing two great chances right at the death. Bedoya had his shot saved by a sliding Lahm and then Dempsey headed just inches over. The match would end there and both the United States and Germany advance to the knockout rounds.
A great accomplishment for sure as it marks the first time that US Soccer has ever advanced from group play in two consecutive World Cups. This one was especially well earned!