The Group G game between the USA and Germany may control the destiny for all the teams in the group that will advance to the next round of the FIFA World Cup. In the case of a draw in either game, the United States and Germany both will advance to the knockout stage. However, a loss by either the US or Germany, the door can open for either Portugal or Ghana to escape the group of death.
A win for either the US or Germany will automatically punch the squads ticket to continue into the next stage of play. Both Portugal and Ghana will pull for the German machine to reign victorious over the Americans. The winner of the Portugal and Ghana game would tie in points with the loser of the Germany and USA game. Germany holds the clear advantage with four goals and the US has a single goal advantage. Ghana or Portugal can only advance with a win and scoring enough goals to pass the loser of Germany and United States in-goal differential.
While there are so many different scenarios for each team to potentially advance, the United States wants to win and secure a spot in the next round. Three points and a guaranteed spot in the knockout stage is the team’s focus. The game also has a personal aspect in play. During the 2006 World Cup, current US coach Jurgen Klinsmann was the coach of the German national team. Klinsmann led the team to the semi-finals with current German coach Joachim Löw as an assistant. Word has surfaced that Löw was calling the shots during the 2006 tournament and Klinsmann could dispel that rumor with a victory over his former national team.
Another personal aspect to the game lies with US midfielder Jermaine Jones, who was born in Germany. With a German mother and a father who was a United States Army soldier, Jones grew up in the US until his parents divorced. Jones returned to Germany became a soccer sensation moving up in the German program. In 2008 Jones was cut from the national team by Löw before the Euro Championships. Since the midfielder never played for the German team and held dual citizenship, FIFA cleared Jones to switch to the US National team. Now facing the coach that cut him, Jones may be looking to prove a point to Löw that the coach made a mistake.
The United States will again be without forward Jozy Altidore for the game due to the hamstring injury sustained in the first match. US captain, Clint Dempsey is likely to be called upon again to play the lone striker role. Dempsey has scored a goal in each of the first two games in Group G play, including recording the 6th fastest goal in FIFA World Cup history, may find the German defense much tougher than previous teams. The German defense appeared to confuse and frustrate Portugal in the squad’s first game. Germany also takes a strategic approach to the offense. Keeping the ball back, looking for an opening in the defense to take the advantage and attack. When the team faces the US on Thursday, the offense that the German team sees coming at them will likely look similar to their own, with a twist. An American twist. Klinsmann knows the German way of thinking on the pitch after both playing and coaching the team. The coach has brought much of that playbook to the US team and weaving that knowledge with the exciting American approach could either be an advantage or be dissected quickly by the Germans.
The German team would win the group if they can contain Dempsey and Jones. On offense, all eyes will be on Thomas Müller. Müller is currently sitting in fifth place for most goals scored during this tournament. After a hat trick in the first game, the German went scoreless in the draw with Ghana. Müller trails the scoring leaders by a goal and could move into the scoring lead against the USA. Eyes will also be upon 36-year old striker Miroslav Klose. Klose scored a draw saving goal against Ghana. The goal was the German’s 15th career World Cup goal, equaling the record set by Brazilian Legend, Ronaldo. One more goal for Klose would give the German the record to himself.
A flurry of questions have arisen that the friendship and respect that the German team has for Klinsmann may have created a deal between the two squads. A deal to agree on a draw that would send both teams to the next round. Match fixing rumors aside, both Klinsmann and Löw want to win. If the US would lose the match, and advance with the tie-breaker, the next match would be against the expected Group H winner Belgium. A win for the American team would mean a match up against the Group H runner-up, which will be either Russia or Algeria. Klinsmann would rather face the runner-up in the next round, which could improve the USA’s chances to move to the quarter finals.
The game between Germany and the USA kick’s off at the same time as Portugal and Ghana kick off. The decision on who from the group advances on will be decided when both games finish at approximately the same time. It is expected that if either the USA or Germany wins, players from the losing team will be rushing around to find out if the other Group G game result ends their FIFA World Cup run or if they will advance to the next round. Regardless of the outcome, the game will be a nail bitter for everyone. from beginning to end.
Commentary by Carl Auer