Either Jurgen Klinsmann just spent a week with a genie or most of America owes him an apology (Looking at you, Mike Wilbon, Eric Wynalda and others).
The United States lost to Germany 1-0 on Thursday, but did enough in previous matches to advance to the Round of 16.
Now there’s a chance you’re saying, “Wait, wait, hold on, wait. The U.S. barely beat Ghana, gave up a last-second equalizer to Portugal and came within a pouncing Cristiano Ronaldo of falling to Ghana on goal differential*. What exactly did he do that we should lavish the big German with such praise?”
*If you were actively watching Ghana/Portugal, you would know that the Black Stars were dominating possession and chances, and looked in the throes of finding the goal that would send the U.S. home before Ronaldo struck to make it 2-1.
Fortunately, we have your answers.
Game 1: The subs be with you.
Under the duress of injuries to Jozy Altidore and Matt Besler, Klinsmann has to choose his subs wisely and early; Only one will be 100 percent strategic, as the others are necessitated by said injuries.
Instead of turning to Omar Gonzalez, Klinsmann brings on untested and somewhat-maligned John Anthony Brooks to fill-in for Besler. Then, Klinsmann turns to Graham Zusi for Ale Bedoya in the 77th minute. The Sporting KC midfielder lashes in a corner kick towards Brooks and rest is history.
[ IN FOCUS: US 2, Ghana 1 ]
Game 2: How do you solve a problem like no Jozy?
Without his only “proven” striker in Jozy Altidore, Klinsmann turns away from Aron Johannsson. The Icelandic-Alabaman didn’t make much of an impact in his opportunity against Ghana, so the US coach moves Clint Dempsey up-top.
“Deuce” is dangerous from the get-go, eventually scoring the game-winner on a pelvic-thrust from in front of the goal. The play was begun by another suspect substitution, as Klinsmann gave a vote of confidence to speedy youngster DeAndre Yedlin. The Sounders man got the second-goal started, though Geoff Cameron lost his mark to allow Portugal to tie the match at the death.
[ IN FOCUS: US 2, Portugal 2 ]
Game 3: How to fill the holes in the back?
The usually-solid Cameron was arguably responsible for both Portugal goals, and Klinsmann takes decisive action in slotting in strong but inconsistent center back Omar Gonzalez. After a shaky start, the L.A. Galaxy center back uses his size and strength to thwart multiple German attacks.
In fact, the only goal Germany manages is a result of the United States midfielders failing to react (or be in position) after Tim Howard parried a dangerous shot back to the 18. That, and the fact that Thomas Mueller absolutely scorched a picture-perfect shot.
The 1-0 loss is enough to get the States through to the knockout round, where they will undoubtedly use more offensive tactics the next time they face a powerhouse.
[ IN FOCUS: Germany 1, US 0 ]
Agree? Disagree? Still sad about Donovan? Let’s talk it out.