It was an incessant torrential downpour that plagued the Group G match of USA vs. Germany at Arena Pemambuco in Recife. It was fellow countrymen Jürgen Klinsmann for the USMNT pitted against Joachim Löw for Die Mannschaft as coaches. It was indeed a rather dreary and dull match, and the goals did not rain as plentiful as the precipitation — something uncommon so far at the 2014 World Cup.
The USMNT mustered only a single shot on goal the entire match. Germany dominated the pace, possession and just about every other important facet of the game. Much of what took place in this match was in truth less important than what took place in Brasilia. Heading into their match with the Germans, the USMNT could afford on paper to lose the match and still advance despite a Portugal win. Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portuguese teammates would need to light up the score sheet vs. Ghana in order to overcome an unfavorable goal differential. Winning only by a score of 2-1, Ronaldo and Co. were sent packing from the Group of Death, along with the Ghanians.
As it was, for a team that could have avoided flirting with disaster by simply picking up a draw against Germany, the USMNT did not seem to have an urgency about them. They appeared to be comfortable playing the odds that came with losing, confident that Portugal would not dominate Ghana. Momentum in sports is an important factor. Playing to a draw or perhaps even a victory over the No. 2 ranked team in the world would have done wonders for the confidence of players on the USMNT. Momentum and confidence are all too important as the Round of 16 awaits, where being content with a loss will mean going home and laying rest once more to childhood dreams.
Though the match was rather monotonous, two things can be taken away from it. One, Germany remains a dominant soccer nation after picking up seven points in Group G. They are a force to be reckoned with, having unparalleled passing and possession skills, stability on the back end and one of the tournament’s best strikers in Thomas Müller. The winner of Algeria vs. Russia has only misery and disappointment in their not too distant forecast.
The second conclusion that can be drawn from the outcome of this match is that the USMNT appear to need fair weathered conditions to perform admirably. Weather in Brazil has proven to be inconsistent and detrimental for some squads. But also, Germany are No. 2 and USA the No. 13 ranked nation for a reason, because America does not hunger for a world championship the same way some of the other soccer nations do. It is not so deeply intertwined into the fabric of American culture and history. Soccer in the USA is not synonymous with national pride.
The outcome of the match was more important than it seemed. Moving forward, the USMNT need to elevate their play with a ferocious urgency. They will more than likely play Belgium in the knockout stages. Credit to the USMNT for surviving the Group of Death, but judging by their 1-1-1 record and the effort they put forth against a true contender, they seem destined to soon be another CONCACAF casualty of the beautiful game on the world stage.