The U.S. has survived the Group of Death.
It wasn’t easy on our nerves, but the U.S. squeaked through to the Round of 16 on Thursday, falling 1-0 to Germany but finishing in second place in Group G thanks to a 2-1 Portugal win over Ghana. The Americans finished tied with the Portuguese with four points in group play, but advanced over Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. by virtue of the goal difference tiebreaker.
Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman turned in his third-straight solid performance for the USMNT, hardly putting a foot wrong in his 90 minute effort in rainy Recife. The dreadlocked midfielder was tough in the tackle, strong in distribution and excellent with his positioning. We’ll have more on Beckerman later here on www.RealSaltLake.com.
The U.S. didn’t start Thursday’s match particularly well, allowing Germany a ton of time and space on the ball in the opening 15 minutes or so. The Americans were eventually able to find their footing, making it a more controlled contest for the remainder of the first half.
Germany did have its chances though, and deservedly went ahead through Thomas Muller in the 55th minute. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard made a fine initial save off of a German corner, but he couldn’t do anything about Muller’s excellent follow-up attempt, which was rifled into the back of the net from just outside the box on the left side.
Bogged down in the soggy conditions and visibly tired after playing in the heat of Manaus just four days ago, the U.S. didn’t create much after Muller’s strike, forcing those of us watching at home to turn more of our attention to Ghana-Portugal. Trailing 1-0, the U.S. needed Portugal to hang on to its 1-1 result, as a 2-1 Ghana win combined with a 1-0 American loss would’ve sent the USMNT packing. Thankfully for the U.S., Portugal was able to do that and more, with Ronaldo scoring in the 81st minute to put Portugal up 2-1 and effectively clinch the U.S.’s passage into the Round of 16.
The Americans will have a few well-earned days off ahead of that Round of 16 match, which will take place at 2:00 p.m. MT on Tuesday in Salvador. The Americans will face off against the Group H winner, likely to be Belgium.