USA fan Lindsay Beeder, 19, reacts during the 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match between Germany and the U.S. at a viewing party in Hermosa Beach, California on Thursday. (REUTERS: Lucy Nicholson)
RECIFE, Brazil — The United States gave Germany too much respect, but manager Juergen Klinsmann promised there would be no repeat of their cagey display in the last 16 after they reached the World Cup’s knockout stages despite a 1-0 loss on Thursday.
The U.S. edged into the second round as Group G runners-up but could have been dumped out of the tournament had Ghana beaten Portugal in a match being played simultaneously.
As it was, Portugal won 2-1, leaving the U.S. to celebrate their qualification in front of hordes of ecstatic fans who had braved torrential rain and dangerous floods to arrive at the stadium.
“Obviously it is a huge achievement by our team to come through that group and qualify,” offered a relieved Klinsmann.
“We knew it was going to be a tricky game and it was not so easy to handle it mentally. We had a little bit too much respect at first.
“I screamed as much as I could at them to push further up but that is easier said than done.
“But whoever we face now, we are going to take it to the them. Now we can put this behind us and, as we know, when the group is done, another tournament starts and that is a whole other ball game.”
Germany restricted the U.S. to only sights of goal, dominating possession before taking the lead in the 55th minute with a delightful curling finish from forward Thomas Mueller.
The Americans did not have a real chance until second-half stoppage time when substitute Alejandro Bedoya had a goal-bound shot blocked by Philipp Lahm and Clint Dempsey headed over from close range.
Klinsmann knows there is plenty to work on after a below-par performance against the country he played for in three World Cups and managed at the 2006 tournament.
“We have to keep the ball longer, be calmer under pressure and move the ball around,” he said.
“Every time we shifted the ball and had four or five passes, we looked really good.
“It is generally something we have to improve, to make tour opponents run.”
Klinsmann said he was kept abreast of the score in the Portugal - Ghana match and knew the U.S. were heading through, even if their nervous fans seemed to have little idea and burst into raucous cheers when it was announced at full time.
“We were informed of the score. It calmed me down in the last five minutes,” he said.
The U.S.’s next opponents will be the winners in Group H, which is likely to be either Belgium or Algeria.
“They are very different teams,” Klinsmann said. “Belgium will be a bit more familiar because we have played them in recent years. Algeria are a completely different style, but whoever it is we will be prepared.”