Hanging on for dear life: The U.S. attack has all but vanished. Lucky for the Americans that Germany seems content to milk the clock.
How unusual for the trailing team to wish for fewer than the four minutes of stoppage time is shown to the stadium. It's the Americans who are now killing time, and they settle for a 1-0 loss -- to the serenade of "U-S-A" from the crowd -- that promotes them to the knockout phase.
Before the end, they mount a rare penetration that nearly salvages the tie. A Bedoya shot and a Clint Dempsey header almost does the trick.
The outcome means that the U.S. can rest until Tuesday, the last day for the Round of 16, before facing the Group H winner, likely Belgium. Germany resumes Monday against the runner-up from H, with Algeria momentarily holding the edge.
The U.S. appears to be off the hook, courtesy of its new friend Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star who stole a win from the Americans with a last-gasp assist for the tying goal pops in an easy one against Ghana, which now trails 2-1. The Group G tie-breaker likely will fall the U.S. way now.
In the 83rd minute, Deandre Yedlin replaces Graham Zusi for the U.S. It appears to be a move for defense, though Yedlin impressively pushed forward against Portugal.
Finally, a corner kick for the U.S., only its second through 71 minutes. No harm done to the Germans, though.
On the first significant U.S. threat of the half, teammates Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya drop to the turf after a scary upper-body collision that requires medical attention for both. A dizzy Jones, his nose bleeding,walks off on his own power. He is patched up and returns, while Bedoya stays on.
The Germans swap out another player, with Mario Gotze coming in.
Juergen Klinsmann replaces Brad Davis at midfield with Alejandro Bedoya, who started the first two U.S. games. With Ghana evening the count against Portugal, the U.S. is concerned about the tie-breaker situation should its deficit stand.
The U.S. attack seems to be suffering from a flat tire -- maybe two. Players, perhaps feeling lingering exhaustion from the previous game four days ago, struggle to catch up with passes. The Americans have yet to unleash a second-half shot midway through the period.
Ever-dangerous on set pieces, Germany converts a corner kick for the game's first goal.
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard does all he could to turn aside the resulting shot from the box, punching out the ball -- but directly to Thomas Mueller.
The German, who recorded a hat trick in the opener, drills it past a diving Howard in the 55th minute.
Germany has outshot the U.S. in the match, 11-2.
Germany signals at the beginning of the second half that it intends to seek a goal. Entering is Michael Klose, tied with Ronaldo of Portugal for all-time Cup goals leader with 15 and the only out-and-out forward on the German roster. The U.S. stays with its starters.
Early on, first-time starter Gonzalez denies Germany a serious chance, heading the ball away on an entry pass.
The field remains tilted in Germany's favor. One gets a sense that it is more eager to score than the Americans, though they might be looking to counter-attack.
In a scary moment for the U.S., Klose eludes the defense and gets a wide-open look. Yet he cannot control the pass, and the ball bounces harmlessly away.
The first half generated a decent amount of attacking, but there were no goals. The U.S. has failed to aim a shot on goal, while Germany has aimed four at goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Given the slippery conditions and Portugal's 1-0 halftime lead over Ghana, which favors both teams in Recife, Brazil, with tie-breaker scenarios, both coaches will be tempted to back off and play for a scoreless draw. Substitutions will offer a clue. If either side brings on a defensive-minded replacement, that would reveal its strategy.
Germany finds Mesut Ozil unmarked in the box. He drills a shot that goes directly to U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, who achieves a challenging save on the soaked grass. Howard adds another save soon after. He is on his game.
At the other end, the U.S. is having trouble connecting on long balls. With its first corner kick in the 41st minute, the try goes too long and soars untouched out of bounds.
A U.S. threat falls flat when Jermaine Jones, charging into the box to make himself available for a pass, collides with referee Rayshan Irmatov. Jones gets the worse of it and stays down, prompting ESPN announcer Ian Darke to wonder if Jones can show a yellow card to the ref.
Jones recovers quickly and makes a strong run beneath a long pass that doesn't quite connect. The ball skids off the wet turf to the German keeper.
There is a goal -- from the other match. An "own" goal pushes Portugal ahead 1-0, which is welcome news to the U.S.
The U.S. is finally playing on Germany's side of the field. It took the Americans until the 19th minute to launch a shot, though it was taken by the offensively limited DeMarcus Beasley.
Germany's attack has slowed, in part thanks to a shirt-grab by Kyle Beckerman that went undetected by referee Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan, which stalled a breakout.
The Americans' first serious chance occurred in the 22nd minute. But Graham Zusi's solid shot from the left flank was a tad too high.
Was it keep-away or pitch-and-catch? Take your pick. Germany played a soccer version of the two children's games through the first 10 minutes, holding possession for about 80 percent.
The ball-hogging did result in a couple of shots. Goalkeeper Tim Howard made one nifty save, and the U.S. got a break when two Germans went for the ball in the box. Neither managed an attempt.
It's game on, according to FIFA, which has green-lighted U.S. versus Germany in spite of nine consecutive hours of rain in Recife, Brazil, that has triggered flooding in the city.
Teams warmed up in areas outside the field to preserve the soggy turf.
The Americans are accustomed to wet conditions at the World Cup, having dealt with a similar scenario at their opener in Natal, Brazil.
As the U.S. awaited confirmation that its rain-threatened match with Germany was still a go, a lineup with two first-time starters was announced.
Omar Gonzalez, who plays for the L.A. Galaxy, slides in for Geoff Cameron at central defender, and Brad Davis takes over in the midfield for Alejandro Bedoya.
Cameron has performed well, aside from a wayward clearance attempt against Portugal that resulted in a gift goal. Davis represents the latest tinkering by coach Juergen Klinsmann with the attack to account for the absence of injured Jozy Altidore up front.
Significant flooding in the host city of Recife has limited easy access to the stadium, and a large party of players' relatives who were due to be transported by buses has decided not to attend.
An hour before the scheduled kickoff, the game was still on, though the referee has discretion to ask for a postponement if he deems the field unplayable.
The U.S. and Germany only need to play to a draw today to ensure each team’s chances of moving on at the World Cup -- but don’t expect such a shortsighted approach when the teams meet for their final “group of death” match.
We will follow the action in Recife, Brazil, here with live coverage beginning at 9 a.m. PDT.
A U.S. win would go a long way to help the team secure a more a favorable opponent in the Round of 16. A draw would mean a probable meeting against a strong Belgium squad. From a less practical standpoint, the U.S. wants to show it’s a serious contender on the international stage, and a victory over perennial powerhouse Germany could signal a new chapter in the evolution of U.S. soccer.
U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann says his players are ready to take this next step.
“We are very well capable to beat Germany and we know that,” Klinsmann said Wednesday. “Without being too overconfident, without being too positive, it’s possible. It’s doable.
“As you’ve seen, this World Cup is full of surprises. We want to be one of those surprises.”Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times