It was a hard-fought World Cup match between the United States and Germany, with both sides producing few good scoring chances in the rain in Recife.
Germany was able to produce a couple more and actually converted one, which turned out to be just enough.
Despite the 1-0 loss, thanks to Portugal’s 2-1 win over Ghana, the U.S. qualified for the knockout stage and a Monday date in Salvador, Bahia, against the top team from Group H – to be determined later Thursday afternoon but most likely Belgium, with a chance that Algeria might sneak into the top spot.
Germany came out strong in the opening minutes of the match.
The Americans looked sluggish, something other teams at this World Cup have been after playing in the unbearably hot and muggy Amazonian city of Manaus, as the U.S. did on Sunday. On top of that, the Germans had one more rest day in between matches.
It was the last group stage match for both teams, and the result, as well as the final outcome of the game in Brasilia between Portugal and Ghana that was occurring simultaneously, would determine which of the quartet of teams from Group G would earn a spot in the Round of 16.
Early in the game Germany had no trouble creating opportunities that all ended one pass or one step short of a score.
Tim Howard, playing in his 103rd international for the U.S. was a brick wall in the goal.
It wasn’t until about the 21st minute that the U.S. put together a dangerous sequence that ended with Graham Zusi rifling a ball over the crossbar.
There were few moments in the first half that alleviated the tension. At one point, Jermaine Jones wasn’t watching where he was headed and ran into the referee, falling to the ground.
The second half was more of the same, until Thomas Müller nailed a shot off a rebound that Howard was unable to corral for a 1-0 lead. The German tied Argentina’s Leo Messi and Neymar of Brazil for the tournament lead with 4.
The game got more physical, less aesthetic. The U.S. earned its second corner kick of the game in the 70th minute, but the center fell into a forest of dark shirts and was quickly cleared.
There was a scary moment in the 72nd minute when Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya knocked heads together, and Jones stayed down for a minute.
The Americans’ best sequence came late in the match when a lightning counterstrike produced a shot on goal by Bedoya that was deflected out of bounds by Germany.
The corner kick that followed found U.S. captain Clint Dempsey at the near post, but his header just went over the bar.