The U.S. national completed its last full round of pre-Gold Cup friendlies with a 2-1 away victory in Cologne, Germany, over the defending world champions on Wednesday.
The USMNT’s latest comeback victory caps off a spectacular European adventure after also defeating the third-place finishers at last summer’s World Cup, the Netherlands, in dramatic fashion last Friday. Wednesday’s victory was the Americans’ first-ever defeat of Germany on German soil, and the first time the two sides met since the final game of group play at the 2014 World Cup.
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Wednesday’s exhibition began much the same as last Friday’s, when the Americans went behind the Dutch early on, and to the delight of many American hearts, it ended much the same way as last week’s triumph in Amsterdam.
Mario Gotze opened the scoring in the 12th minute, when he finished with extreme ease and composure Patrick Hermann’s simple cross to the back post with a classy, curled finished back to the near post.
Gotze nearly doubled the Germans’ lead in the 31st minute, when Mesut Ozil played the scorer of last year’s World Cup-winning goal behind the USMNT defense. Gotze found himself in side the penalty area, one on one with Brad Guzan, but the big American goalkeeper made the sprawling kick save as Gotze’s shot was headed for the inside of the same far post in which he’d scored 20 minutes earlier.
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Very much against the run of play — possession 67 percent to 33, in favor of Germany — the Yanks equalized in the 41st minute, when Mix Diskerud applied the right-footed finish after Michael Bradley launched a pinpoint diagonal ball into the German penalty area. Bradley’s ball and Diskerud’s finish capped off a 30-pass sequence for the Americans which covered 95 seconds on the clock.
In truth, the USMNT was much better following the halftime restart, thanks in part to a number of halftime substitutions which changed the shape of the side from the 4-4-2 diamond midfield, to a more conventional single-striker system. Though the overall possession numbers swung considerably more in favor of the U.S. after halftime, all of that possession was converted into just two shots on target in the second 45.
Jordan Morris, the Stanford University standout and second-half substitute against the Germans, nearly gave the USMNT a late lead in the 75th minute, when his right-footed shot sailed just wide of Ron-Robert Ziegler’s far post. Morris had been on the field for all of 20 seconds, and the 20-year-old nearly had his second international goal.
Bradley nearly scored yet another late winner for the Yanks in the 83rd minute. Capping off a fluid, dynamic counter attack, the ball fell to Bradley near the top of the German penalty area, where he unleashed a powerful, left-footed effort, but his first-time shot was hit straight into the feet of Ziegler who made the reflexive save.
The winner came, once again, off the foot of nomadic club striker Bobby Wood, who Klinsmann has called in repeatedly despite poor form for various club teams over the last year and a half. From nearly 25 yards out, Wood unleashed a left-footed blast into the bottom corner of Ziegler’s far post in the 87th minute. Brad Evans provided the pacy through ball, and Wood applied the emphatic finish.
The USMNT currently has one more friendly scheduled, July 3 against Guatemala, before they kick off their Gold Cup campaign (July 7-26) against Honduras on July 7.
Germany: Zieler, Rudy, Mustafi, Rudiger, Hector, Schweinsteiger (Khedira 46′), Gundogan (Kramer 60′), Herrmann (Bellarabi 73′), Ozil, Schurrle (Podolski 46′), Gotze (Kruse 73′)
Goals: Gotze (12′)
USA: Guzan, Johnson (Evand 46′), Brooks, Alvarado, Chandler, Williams (Beckerman 46′), Diskerud (Morales 74′), Zardes (Wood 74′), Bradley, Agudelo (Yedlin 46′), Johannsson (Morris 74′)
Goals: Diskerud (41′), Wood (87′)