- Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports15 hrs ago
RIO DE JANEIRO – Only the magical feet of Lionel Messi stand between Germany and a fourth World Cup title now. The Germans have been so efficient and so dominant over the past four weeks here in Brazil that only the brilliance of Argentina's talisman could shatter their championship dreams.
- Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
RIO DE JANEIRO – Tim Krul was informed of the plan before he stepped on the team bus for the stadium. Jasper Cillessen wished he would've known the plan so he didn't have to wonder what in the world was going on when he saw Krul warming up in the corner of his eye late in extra time.
The plan, both genius and devious, was to replace first-choice goalkeeper Cillessen with penalty-saving specialist Krul if head coach Louis van Gaal had one last substitution seconds before a penalty shootout in Saturday's quarterfinal against Costa Rica. Only Krul, Van Gaal and goalkeeper coach Frans Hoek knew about the switch.
The controversial decision worked beautifully. Krul turned away two shots, including Costa Rica's final kick from the spot, to send the Netherlands to its second straight World Cup semifinal. The shrewd move also could've ripped apart the Dutch team right then and there, inviting jealousy and, in the extreme, creating division among the ranks.
- Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
Substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul saved two shots, including Costa Rica's final attempt, to help the Netherlands prevail 4-3 in a dramatic penalty shootout and advance to the World Cup semifinals.
The quarterfinal victory in the light rain at Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova sends the Dutch to next Wednesday's semifinal in Sao Paulo against Argentina, which defeated Belgium 1-0 earlier in the day in Brasilia.
In the shootout, Celso Borges scored first for Costa Rica and Robin Van Persie just beat goalkeeper Keylor Navas with his rolling shot inside the right post. Krul easily stopped Bryan Ruiz's weak penalty and Arjen Robben gave the Dutch a 2-1 lead by calmly hitting the upper left corner.
Giancarlo Gonzalez evened the shootout at 2-2 for Costa Rica. Wesley Sneijder successfully went right to give Netherlands the lead back at 3-2, and Christian Bolanos also went right to knot things again at 3-3.
- Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports9 days ago
SAO PAULO – Despite Tuesday's disappointing defeat to Belgium and round-of-16 World Cup exit, the United States found itself awash in optimism of better days ahead as it packed up for the long trip home Wednesday.
The reason to believe in a promising future came from the most unexpected source: Two youngsters who weren't expected to play much at all yet performed in the most stunning fashion on the game's biggest stage.
DeAndre Yedlin replaced injured right back Fabian Johnson and used his exceptional speed to neutralize Belgium star Eden Hazard in a memorable head-to-head duel. Julian Green came off the bench in extra time to calmly score a superbly taken side-volley goal (with his first-ever World Cup touch) to ignite a dramatic comeback that fell short in a 2-1 loss to the Belgians.
- Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports10 days ago
SALVADOR, Brazil – Belgium will face the United States with arguably its most important player.
Captain Vincent Kompany has overcome a groin injury in time to return to the Belgians' starting lineup for Tuesday's round-of-16 game at Arena Fonte Nova.
The center back from English Premier League champion Manchester City missed Belgium's final group game, a 1-0 win over South Korea last Thursday. Kompany's battle to be fit was crucial for coach Marc Wilmots, who stood to have just two healthy starters in his first-choice, four-man backline.
Wilmots announced Monday that left back Thomas Vermaelen won't play due to a hamstring strain. Backup right back Anthony Vanden Borre is also out after suffering a tournament-ending fibula fracture against South Korea, but regular starter Tony Alderweireld will return to the lineup.
[Photos: Stars tweet support for Team USA]
- Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports12 days ago
SAO PAULO – Surviving the World Cup's Group of Death didn't teach this United States team anything new about itself. The surprising achievement merely reinforced what it already knew.
"I think we always had faith that we would get out of the group, so we always have had confidence," defender Omar Gonzalez said. "I think it is good that we have always believed and it is just nice to see everyone else starting to rally behind us."
Beating Ghana, drawing with Portugal and qualifying for the round of 16 despite losing to Germany confirmed some pre-tournament theories about Jurgen Klinsmann's squad (for instance, the U.S. wasn't going anywhere without Tim Howard being Tim Howard) and disproved some popular beliefs (such as the U.S. wasn't good enough to go through to the second round).
However, the group phase also revealed previously unknown truths about Klinsmann's men – and Klinsmann. Heretofore, we did not know that:
Jermaine Jones is a force of nature … on offense.
- Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports13 days ago
SAO PAULO – Jozy Altidore jogged around the Sao Paulo FC training ground while his United Statesteammates participated in their first full-squad practice since returning from Thursday's Group G finale in Recife. Jurgen Klinsmann remains optimistic that Altidore, who injured his left hamstring 12 days ago in the U.S.'s tournament opener, will return for Tuesday's round-of-16 showdown against Belgium.
But even if Altidore misses his third straight World Cup game, the Americans still might catch a break.
- Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports15 days ago
RECIFE, Brazil – For Jurgen Klinsmann, now the fun really begins.
The United States' head coach happily said goodbye to the annoying logistics of the World Cup's group stage and relished a trip to the knockout round after the Americans finished second in Group G despite Thursday's 1-0 loss to Germany at Arena Pernambuco.
The Americans will meet Group H winner Belgium in the round of 16 next Tuesday, as Klinsmann expressed relief in seeing his team advance out of the Group of Death. He was especially grateful to have the group phase, with all of its emotional twists and turns and overwhelming travel schedule, finally behind him.
"It's a good feeling because really it's just a clear picture for everyone," Klinsmann said. "You just focus on that one specific opponent that you have for your next game. There is no focus on who could be the next opponent afterwards.
- Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports15 days ago
RECIFE, Brazil – United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made two changes to his starting lineup for Thursday's World Cup Group G finale against Germany, replacing center back Geoff Cameron with Omar Gonzalez and midfielder Alejandro Bedoya with Brad Davis.
Klinsmann declared everyone but injured forward Jozy Altidore fully fit on Wednesday. That did not stop him from making a change in his defense by benching Cameron, whose failed clearance led to Portugal's fifth-minute goal in Sunday's 2-2 draw in Manaus.
Bedoya had put in two workmanlike performances at right midfield. He is replaced by Davis, the Houston Dynamo veteran who will make his World Cup debut at left midfield. Graham Zusi will move to his regular right midfield spot with Michael Bradley manning the middle of a five-man midfield.
- Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports16 days ago
RECIFE, Brazil – If you were starting to believe that the United States and Germany actually have an agreement to play to a draw Thursday and guarantee their spots in the World Cup's round of 16, you can forget it. It's not happening.
German coach Joachim Loew won't let it happen.
A day after U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann dispelled any notion that the fix was in for both teams to go through, Lowe did his part to end speculation that he and his former boss (and good friend) have a handshake deal to assure qualification for the knockout stage.
"This is not a topic for Jurgen Klinsmann or myself," Loew said Wednesday. "We don't discuss this anymore because both coaches have a purpose of going to the pitch and win."
"When you want to draw, it never works. It's impossible. Always, the aim is to win the match."