‘USA known for giving their everything in every game,’ Klinsmann scoffs at thought of settling for Germany draw
MANAUS // It is 32 years since the most collusive moment in World Cup history, but it all came flooding back last night in the steamy heat of the Amazon jungle. In 1982, West Germany and Austria unashamedly played out a 1-0 final group stage match that ensured both sides progressed and Algeria were eliminated. Neither side was punished; Fifa’s only reaction was to rule that from then on final group stage matches must be played simultaneously.
Portugal’s 95th minute headed equaliser in the 2-2 draw with the United States at Arena da Amazonia means that, on Thursday, the Germans will play the USA knowing that a draw sees both teams through to the knockout stages. Portugal and Ghana will play simultaneously. The result of that match only becomes relevant, however, should the US and Germany not end in a draw.
Jurgen Klinsmann, the German-born United States coach, was repeatedly asked about the possibility of playing for a draw. Other coaches would have exploded at the mere suggestion. Klinsmann, to his credit, showed admirable patience.
“You are talking about a game that is decades away and only a part of the Germany history and not in the United States,” Klinsmann said. “The United States is known for giving their everything in every game and if you look in the past at the US team, they make things happen otherwise Mexico wouldn’t be here. We have that fighting spirit, that energy and determination to do well in every single game. So we are going to go to Recife with ambitions to play our game and beat Germany.”
At one stage, the US coach was even asked what he would say should his close friend Joachim Loew, the Germany manager, call him up requesting to share the spoils on Thursday night. “There is no such call,” Klinsmann replied. “We are good friends, but Jogi does his job and I do my job to make sure we get into the round of 16. There is no time for friendship calls, it’s business now.”
The USA are going about their business impressively. Klinsmann’s side were given little hope when they were drawn in a group containing their World Cup nemeses Ghana, the No2 ranked team in the world in Germany and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
In the sapping humidity of Manaus, though, they showed immense character to come back from an early Nani goal to, first, equalise through Jermaine Jones, and then take the lead through Clint Dempsey. It was no less than they deserved having looked stronger for much of the first half and threatening more often in the second. They could have added a third. Instead, they conceded.
With qualification to the next round being within their grasp, the US suffered a momentarily lapse in concentration and Ronaldo, as he has a habit of doing, punished them. Michael Bradley was dispossessed in midfield and Ronaldo delivered a perfect cross from the right on to the head of substitute Varela, who powered past Tim Howard.
Klinsmann refused to blame Bradley for giving the ball away cheaply with only 30 seconds left on the clock. He also remains confident his side can get a result against Germany and progress to the next round.
“If you had said four points from first two games you would be happy,” he said. “But when you concede in the last second when you had six points, it’s a bummer. When we went behind, I said to them at half-time: ‘It’s all good guys; We’re gonna get the first goal, then the second. We were very confident to turn it around and we did. We could even have scored three or four. Unfortunately we didn’t do that. It was quite an amazing game.”
Nani said he expects Germany to beat the United States, while Bradley said the concept of playing for a draw in their final group stage game was not something he could even consider.
“When you look at this team over the past 10 years or so, we play to win, give everything we have every time we step on the field,” Bradley said. “We always compete and look to represent ourselves and our country in the best possible way. We have done that for the first two games and we have another chance to do that on Thursday. We want to win the group.”
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Updated: June 23, 2014 04:00 AM