Despite Loss, Team USA Advances at World Cup

American soccer team advances to round of 16

By Xavier Flory

The U.S. men’s soccer team may have a German coach and a match winner in John Brooks, who was born and raised in Berlin. But today showed it’s better to have a team full of Germans.

The U.S. lost to Germany, 1-0, in their final game of the World Cup’s Group G on Thursday, but Portugal’s 2-1 victory against Ghana ensured that the U.S. progresses to the round of 16 to face the winner of Group H.

The match itself was fairly uneventful, with Germany dominating without creating too many clear-cut chances.

Thomas Müller, who scored a hat trick in Germany’s first game against Portugal, eventually curled in a beauty from outside the box in the second half after American goalie Tim Howard parried the ball away.

The U.S. had a few chances to equalize, but profligacy and some good tackles from the German defense denied them. Michael Bradley, America’s skilled midfielder, was once again underwhelming and occasionally sloppy with his passes, and the team as a whole looked tired from traveling 9,000 miles during the group stages.

Nonetheless, despite having only 37 percent possession and one shot on target, the team never looked overwhelmed by Germany’s quick interplay and was relatively solid on defense. Next up, the U.S. will likely face Belgium, who currently lead Group H by three points and are expected to beat the dire South Korea team later today.

The Belgians have one of the most exciting squads at the World Cup, with an attacking lineup that is fleet-footed and incredibly skillful. Eden Hazard, a Chelsea player, was named the best young player in the English Premier League this year, and he will torment the American fullbacks if they are not given enough support from their wingers.

At the other end of the pitch, the U.S. should target Daniel Van Buyten, the aging 6-foot-6 defender who has been an occasional liability for Bayern München since joining the team in 2006 and who is slow and rash in the tackle.

After surviving the so-called “Group of Death,” the U.S. should be hopeful of beating the winners of Group H and reaching the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.

As for the Germans, after coming close in the last two World Cups, they’ll be targeting their fourth World Cup Trophy, and first since 1990.