Germany the final hurdle for the USA in the World Cup group stage

U.S.A. vs. Germany

2014 FIFA World Cup, Group Stage
Thursday, June 26; 9 am PT; Arena Pernambuco; Recife, Brazil
TV/Radio: ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision, 710 ESPN Seattle

The emotions of the staggering last-second goal that left the U.S. National Team with a 2-2 draw against Portugal have now subsided and the U.S. is focused completely on the final Group Stage match against Germany. And while a draw would get both sides through, don’t expect U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann to call his former German National Team Assistant Joachim Low to arrange any such result before they meet on the field in Recife on Thursday.

“The message is very simple. We want to beat Germany. We want to be first in our group. We know a tie gets us through too, and if it ends in a tie because it’s an exciting game and a very close game, so be it,” Klinsmann told USsoccer.com. “But our goal is to beat Germany and be first in our group. We cannot hope that it goes our way. We have to work for it.”

Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey will again be brought to the spotlight against Germany, as Klinsmann ruled out his top striker partner as Jozy Altidore continues to be hampered by a hamstring strain. Dempsey has two goals in two matches during this World Cup and was the offensive catalyst playing as a lone forward against Portugal.

Klinsmann can stay with the 4-5-1 he used against Portugal, or bring on Aron Johannsson or Chris Wondolowski to play up top with Dempsey.

Meanwhile, Sounders FC defender DeAndre Yedlin made his World Cup debut as a midfielder against Portugal and remains a versatile option for Klinsmann off the bench.

“We can be very, very proud of the performance of the team against Portugal,” Klinsmann said. “We knew it was going to be a very difficult game, but once we got slowly into the game, the response has been tremendous.”

The U.S. has met Germany twice before in the World Cup, falling 2-0 in the Group Stage in 1998 and in the quarterfinals in 2002. In the 1998 match Klinsmann scored the second goal for Germany.

This is a different German side though. While the hallmark of previous teams has always been strong defense and a disciplined approach, Low’s team also features some technical players in Mario Gotze and Bastian Schweinsteiger that can wow with their creativity. That has helped elevate Germany to a No. 2 world ranking, reaching at least the semifinals in the last three World Cups and the last two European Championships.

The U.S. has seen change in that time, too, and Klinsmann has them peaking at the right time. They played much better on Sunday against Portugal than they did in the previous match against Ghana, and Klinsmann believes that progress will continue against Germany.

“One of the biggest parts of the World Cup is to see a progression. It’s important for the players to feel like there’s more to come. There’s more to build on,” Klinsmann said. “This game against Portugal, even if the outcome at the end was a little bit of disappointment, it gives you even more confidence to take into the Germany game and then get the job done to be secured into the Round of 16. We are getting better and we are getting stronger with every game that we play.”

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