Germany's Thomas Mueller takes a shot during the group G World Cup soccer match between Germany and Ghana at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, Saturday, June 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Updated: June 26, 2014 10:56AM
Heading into the last group game Thursday against Germany, what is the mentality of the U.S. team coming off the heartbreaking 2-2 draw Sunday against Portugal?
The way the game ended amid the brutally humid conditions in Manaus, Brazil, makes the question valid, but if it plays any part, it’ll be minor.
At this level, most guys are able to compartmentalize the emotions after those types of results. The U.S. players’ mental fortitude has been built up because of the careers they’ve had, and one game they played four days ago will not tear that down.
But with the energy expended in the rain forest, expect U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann to make a few changes to ensure that his squad is fresh against Germany.
Right back Fabian Johnson has logged a lot of mileage the first two games, and his understudy, DeAndre Yedlin, got his first taste of World Cup action against Portugal. That experience could be important if Klinsmann decides to give Johnson a rest.
Because of the work Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones have put in at midfield, you could see either player playing a smaller part. If that happens, expect Clint Dempsey to drop back into a more creative attacking role and be replaced up top by Aron Johannsson or Chris Wondolowski.
American eyes should be on Thomas Müller, who already has a hat trick in this World Cup, as well as Germany’s creative force, Mesut Özil. Though he doesn’t start anymore, Miroslav Klose lives to score in the World Cup and will be a threat off the bench late.
While a draw would see both teams through, any talk of collusion is nonsense. Klinsmann coached a number of the players on the German team and had Jogi Löw on his national-team staff.
If you ask any coach or player around the world, when given the opportunity, there’s a desire to be better than the guy you’ve worked with.
It’ll be no different Thursday.
Having said that, I was a little skeptical, but I started believing a bit more during the prep matches, and the results back it up. I predict a 2-1 victory against Germany.
Brian Bliss is the technical director for the Fire. He played for the U.S. national team in the 1990 World Cup and for the German club Carl Zeiss Jena from 1992 to 1996. He also serves as an assistant coach for the U.S. under-20 national team.