RECIFE, Brazil — Thomas Muller scored his fourth goal of the World Cup on Thursday as Germany defeated the United States 1-0 to win Group G ahead of the Americans. Despite this the United States also advanced to the knockout stage of the World Cup despite losing to Germany.
Both teams knew before kickoff that a draw would see them through, but neither held anything back.
Klinsmann starred for West Germany when it won the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
The game pitted Germany coach Joachim Low against his good friend and predecessor of Germany, Klinsmann. Kilnsmann coached Germany at the 2006 World Cup with Low as one of his assistant coaches. That year Germany made it to the semifinals.
With two wins and a draw, Germany topped the group with seven points, while the U.S. progressed with four. Portugal also beat Ghana 2-1 and finished with four points, but was eliminated as were Ghana.
Just reaching Arena Pernambuco was an accomplishment to the spectators. A tropical downpour flooded roads in a beach city known as the Brazilian Venice, and the U.S. bus had to make its way through ankle-to-thigh-high water that slowed up traffic and left many cars stalled.
Rain fell throughout much of the game, and there were scattered empty red seats throughout the stadium.
Both Portugal and the United States actually finished the group stage with four points. The United States had a better goal difference and advanced.
“This is a huge step and now we can’t wait until round of 16,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “Everyone said we had no chance, we took the chance and move on. And now we really want to prove a point.”
Germany enjoyed the majority chances during the early parts of the game, with Lukas Podolski going close in the second minute, but the U.S. were threatening on the counter, as Graham Zusi curled a shot just off target during the 22nd minute.
Germany brought on Miroslav Klose prior to the start of the second half. He was unable to score in the match. A goal would have made him the all-time leading goal scorer in World Cup history. Klose is currently tied with Pele with 15 career World Cup goals.
The United States fell behind on 55 minutes when goalkeeper Tim Howard palmed away Per Mertesacker’s header only for Muller to arrow in a shot from just outside of the area into the corner of Howard’s goal. This gave Muller his ninth career World Cup goal.
“Well, we got through the group,” Klinsmann said. “But we have to do better in the round of 16, and we will do better.”
The Americans failed to produce a single shot against German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Germany did produce six shots on Tim Howard’s goal.
The game also marked meetings of several former international teammates facing each other. . American right back Fabian Johnson started for Germany in the 2009 European Under-21 Championship alongside three of Germany’s starters. Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer were also on that team.
The script was pretty similar to 2002, when the U.S. opened with a 3-2 win over Portugal, then tied South Korea 1-1 before losing to Poland 3-0. The Americans advanced 12 years ago because South Korea defeated the Portugal on an 80th minute goal.
About 1,200 miles away from the Arena Pernambuco, the Americans were helped by Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored to give Portugal a one-goal lead over Ghana.
This marked the second consecutive World Cup that the United States made it past the group stage. This is the 1st time that has happened in the team’s history.
The U.S. will either play Belgium or Algeria on Tuesday.