USMNT advances to Round of 16 courtesy of Portugal

USMNT advances to Round of 16 courtesy of Portugal
June 26, 2014, 2:00 pm
Soccerly.com

By Leigh Teschner

The USMNT lost to Germany in their final match of the group stage in the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, but have accomplished the unthinkable. They survived the "Group of Death" with four points thanks to the Portuguese, who took care of Ghana 2-1 in Brasilia. Germany dominated the entire first half putting the US on the ropes. Tim Howard's box was bombarded with low crosses in the first twenty minutes, but Omar Gonzalez came up with clutch sliding tackles to stop the German strikers from connecting.

After surviving the first half hour of the game, Jurgen Klinsmann's men finally found their rhythm and were able to put a couple of passes together. Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman and Michael Bradley slowly began to build their fort in the midfield.

After settling on the field, the US had their first shot at goal in the 21st minute. Graham Zusi found space on the left side and curled a shot from the edge of the box that went over the bar.

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In the 26th minute, Germany's clearest chance to score came courtesy of Mesut Ozil. The Arsenal midfielder dribbled into the box and unleashed a shot that was contained by Howard.

For the second half, Joachim Low sent the historic Miroslav Klose in for Lukas Podolski. Klose entered the field with the opportunity to become the lone leading scorer in the history of the World Cup.

The USMNT's heroic defensive display soon ended in the early minutes of the second half. In the 54th minute, Ozil played short a corner kick and sent a lethal cross into the box. The 6-foot-6 defender, Per Mertesacker, connected a header that Howard was able to punch away, but the ball fell on the feet of the streaking Thomas Muller who placed his shot far from where the American goalkeeper could ever reach.

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The US never reacted to the German goal. Klinsmann tried shaking things off sending Alejandro Bedoya in for Brad Davis, but the team couldn't find an answer to the dominant German game.

Germany cruised through the final half hour of the match. Their undisputed superiority was reflected on the field as they continued to dominate the US at their disposal.

Klinsmann replaced Zusi for DeAndre Yedlin in the final 10 minutes of the game and moved the team higher on the field to pressure the German defense, but nothing seemed to work against one of the toughest teams in the competition.

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On aggregate time, the US created more danger in the German goal than they did during the entire 90 minutes. Bedoya concluded a counter with a low shot that was saved by a sliding tackle. A cross followed with headers by Yedlin and Clint Dempsey inside the box, but their effort didn't pay off as the match ended in favor of Germany.

Finishing second in Group G means the US will most likely face Group H current leader Belgium in the Round of 16. On the bright side, the team avoided a long trip to Porto Alegre and will get an extra day of rest. The USMNT's Round of 16 match is scheduled for Tuesday, July 1 at 4:00 p.m. in the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.