FORTALEZA, Brazil – Tie goes to the Americans.
The U.S. is, improbably, the last team in the Group of Death without a flesh wound, as Germany tied Ghana 2-2 in a wild affair here Saturday. Klose’s late score, a gorgeous touch in the goal box to tie Brazil’s Ronaldo for the most World Cup tallies ever, means the U.S. is assuredly into the Round of 16 with a win or two draws.
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The Americans face Portugal on Sunday in Manaus. A victory will put them in first place in the talent-stacked group.
The U.S. team will advance for sure if:
• U.S. beats Portugal, or;
• U.S. draws with Portugal and U.S. beats or draws with Germany, or;
• U.S. loses to Portugal and beats Germany, or;
• U.S. loses to Portugal by fewer than three goals and both USA-Germany and Portugal-Ghana end in draws.
The U.S. team would be eliminated with a loss to Portugal, draw vs. Germany and a Portugal win vs. Ghana. (Two losses would also mean they're out).
The match here was unlikely from beginning to end. A scoreless first half gave way to a roller derby of a second, with Thomas Muller finding Mario Goetze with a sweet cross. Goetze’s header bounded off his own left knee and into the net.
The Ghana side roared back, with two straight goals to shock the Germans and send their faithful fans here into a tizzy. Andre Ayew scored, and then Asamoah Gyan followed with a gorgeous breakaway strike to make it 2-1.
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Then came a memorable substitution by American coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s old friend, German coach Joachim Loew: He put in the legendary Klose, who scored – almost immediately – by slipping past the defense and tapping in a cross to tie it up.
Klose also nearly scored at the end of regulation to win it, with a laser shot flying just wide of the Ghana net.
The match ended in a draw, and that puts the U.S. in a very unlikely driver’s seat.
The downside is clear, though: The heavily favored Germans will be incensed heading into their final group match against the Americans, down the coast from here in Recife.
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Klinsmann’s bunch would do well to take care of business Sunday against wobbly Portugal, or face a brutal battle pitting two old friends with everything at stake.
For at least one night, Team USA is sitting pretty.
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