There were many scenarios on Thursday in the final World Cup Group Stage match that would see the U.S. National Team through to the Round of 16.
One of those iterations came up and the thousands of fans in Recife, Brazil, and millions more watching around the country celebrated. Despite a 1-0 loss to Germany, Portugal’s 2-1 win over Ghana meant that the U.S. advances over Portugal on the goal differential tiebreaker. Both of Sounders FC’s representatives with the U.S. saw action as Clint Dempsey played the full 90 minutes while DeAndre Yedlin made his second consecutive appearance off the bench to provide a spark over the final minutes of the match.
Seven MLS players started the U.S., including Dempsey, with Omar Gonzalez and Brad Davis making their first starts of the World Cup.
Germany controlled the first 20 minutes of the match before the U.S. found the rhythm of play on the damp pitch amidst a downpour in Recife. The chances were limited though and they went into halftime knotted up at 0-0.
Germany came out strong to start the second half though.
In the 55th minute, Germany played a short corner to Mesut Ozil, who whipped a cross in for a Per Mertesacker header that Tim Howard saved with a sprawling punch to his right. However, the clearance fell right to Thomas Muller and the Bayern Munich attacker bent a first-time shot inside the far post for his fourth goal of the tournament to give Germany the 1-0 lead.
Yedlin came on in the 83rd minute as a midfield sub for the second straight match, replacing Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi. The Sounders FC All-Star made a quick impact, though not on the scoresheet, using his first touch to race down the right side and cross a ball from the endline as he did against Portugal on Sunday.
Then in stoppage time, Yedlin again played a part in two crucial chances. He led the U.S. on a break up the right side and cut it to Jermaine Jones at the edge of the box who laid it off to Michael Bradley for a thundering shot, but Phillip Lahm slid in to clear it. Moments later, Yedlin got his head to a cross from the left side, nodding it to Dempsey for his only shot of the match, but it missed high and the 1-0 score held.
As the American and German players shook hands on the field, Ghana and Portugal went final and the U.S. learned it would get through to face the winner of Group H in the Round of 16 on Tuesday.