The U.S. lost 1-0 to Germany in their final group stage match of the World Cup, and Americans couldn’t be happier. As much as Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Portugal felt like a loss, today's loss felt like a win. Due to the score and Portugal’s victory over Ghana, the USMNT will move on to the Round of 16.
This is the first time in history that the U.S. men’s team has advanced out of group play in two consecutive World Cups.
This year’s advancement is one of the bigger accomplishments in USMNT history. Prior to the Cup’s start, no one gave the Americans a chance to escape the group. First there was Ghana, America’s international kryptonite over the last two Cups. Then there was Portugal and Germany, two of Europe’s premier squads. Most pundits had written off the Americans long before a minute of soccer was ever played.
Not only did the team escape the group alive, but they looked vastly improved doing it. Today’s game wouldn’t even have mattered had the team not let up a last minute equalizer on Sunday to a Portugal squad they dominated for most of the game. A month ago, people would have called you crazy if you talked about the U.S. outplaying Portugal in a World Cup game.
U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who has done a marvelous job with this squad, spoke to the media after today’s game about his team’s achievement.
"It’s huge. Honestly, we wanted at least a tie out of [today's] game, but maybe we had a bit too much respect for them at the start," Klinsmann confessed. "We should have created more chances, and we have to improve on that. But we had tremendous energy and effort, and it’s huge for us. No one expected us to get out of the group; they said we had no chance, but we took that chance and we move on and now we want to prove a point."
The team’s knockout match next Tuesday will be against either Belgium or Algeria – most likely Belgium. The USMNT lost 4-2 to Belgium in a 2013 friendly match, but that means little now. Klinsmann said today that Belgium and Algeria play two very different brands of soccer, but that the team will be ready regardless.
“Whoever it is, we will be prepared,” Klinsmann said. “We will be prepared.”