MANAUS, Brazil – Jurgen Klinsmann immediately dismissed suggestions of a "fixed" result between the United States and Germany that would ensure both teams reach the knockout stage of the World Cup.
After conceding a heartbreaking last-minute equalizer to tie Portugal 2-2 on Sunday, the Americans have been left in a situation where a draw against Germany in Recife in Thursday's final group game would clinch qualification.
Yet despite his former position as Germany national team coach and his close friendship with its current boss Joachim Loew, Klinsmann insisted both teams would give 100 percent and try to win the game and therefore top Group G.
"There's no such call," Klinsmann said, when asked how he would respond if Loew telephoned him to request a mutually beneficial tie. "Jogi is doing his job and I'm doing my job. I'm going to do everything to get to the round of 16. That's what I'm going to do. There's no time to have friendship calls. It's about business now."
The U.S. team was close to wrapping up a place in the last 16 and if it could have held on for a few more precious seconds it would go into the last match leading the group and certain of progressing in the tournament.
Now it knows that the following scenario applies. A win against Germany would clinch the top spot and set up a round of 16 showdown with the second-place finisher in Group H – a game that would take place in Porto Alegre on June 30.
A draw would give the U.S. and Germany five points each, but the Germans would win the group due to its better goal differential and the U.S. would play the Group H winner, likely Belgium, in Salvador on July 1.
With a defeat, it gets tricky. An American loss to Germany, coupled with a Portugal-Ghana draw, would send Klinsmann's men through in the second spot. A loss to Germany mixed with a Portugal win could be good enough too, as long as the Portuguese did not overhaul the Americans' goal differential advantage (currently +1 compared to -4).
Next is the situation that is for statistics majors only. If the U.S. loses to Germany and Ghana beats Portugal, there is still a chance for the Americans to go through. But that would only happen if the U.S. lost by a single goal and Ghana won by a single goal – and the U.S. at least matched the number of goals Ghana scored in its victory.
The complexity of that situation will only add power to the conspiracy theorists who believe that a Klinsmann/Loew arrangement is inevitable – albeit completely illegal under FIFA regulations.
A German journalist even posed Klinsmann a question based around a situation that occurred in the 1982 World Cup, when West Germany and Austria played to a pre-arranged result that send both those teams to the next stage at the expense of Algeria.
[Photos: U.S. vs. Portugal match highlights]
"You are talking about a game that is decades away that is only part of German history and not the history of the United States," Klinsmann replied. "The U.S. knows only how to give everything it has in every game. We have that fighting spirit and that energy and determination to do well in every single game. Our goal is to beat Germany.
"I don't think we are made for draws really, unless it happens like tonight with two late goals in the last seconds. Both teams go into this game and want to win the group. We want to go at Germany and get three points and be in the driver's seat for the round of 16. I am sure we will see in four days a very exciting match in Recife. I think coming now is a lot of respect from our opponents."
Whatever Klinsmann says, plenty of U.S. fans will be rooting for a draw in Recife on Thursday and have their calculators handy just in case.
Related World Cup coverage on Yahoo Sports: