When the U.S. were drawn into Group G at the 2014 World Cup, nobody gave them a chance of qualifying.
Now, with the group stage done and dusted, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and the USA’s arch-nemesis Ghana are heading home.
The U.S. are heading into the last 16 alongside Germany.
Hold that thought for a second… Yeah, it’s an incredible achievement from the Jurgen Klinsmann’s side.
[ RECAP – USA 0-1 Germany]
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The German legend always believed the U.S. could shake things up in South America and they have stunned everyone by making it through to the knockout rounds.
Speaking to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on the rain-soaked pitch in Recife after the game, Klinsmann was defiant after his side’s 1-0 defeat to Germany proved redundant following Portugal’s 2-1 win over Ghana to send the U.S. through.
“It is huge for us getting out of this group,” Klinsmann said. “Everyone said we had no chance. We took that chance and now we really want to move on. This is a huge, huge step and we can’t wait to get to the Round of 16… It was a big game. Although we gave them too much respect to start with. We should have created more chances.”
That being said the U.S. defended well despite Thomas Muller’s 55th minute game-winner and the star at the back, as he is so often, was veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard.
“Tim Howard is one of our stars. He is one of our leaders,” Klinsmann said. “In the World Cup if you want to go far, you need one of the best goalkeepers in the world. We have that.”
The U.S. also has a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup.
Klinsmann is looking forward to the challenge which now lies ahead for the USA, as they will likely face Belgium in Salvador on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.
“We are growing, we are learning in every game,” Klinsmann said. “Now we go into the Round of 16. We will analyze this game, say what we did wrong and take some of the good things we did. Whoever we face now, we are going to take it to them. For all the players it is a tremendous achievement. We will put the entire group stage behind us. Now that the group stage is done, another tournament starts and anything can happen in the knockout stage.”