Americans are the underdogs

Make no mistake about it, the U.S. men’s soccer team will be the underdog when it plays Germany in a World Cup group-match in Recife, Brazil at noon Thursday.

Over the years, the German booters have been a perennial power on the pitch with three World Cup titles (1954, 1974, and 1990) to their credit. Currently, they are No. 2 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings.

Team USA is ranked No. 13.

“Anything is possible,” said Marietta High girls soccer coach Jeff Price. “But I think Germany could really be tough. They have a number of players on their team who have played together on the same club in Germany. And, that’s got to be an advantage.”

FC Bayern Munich is the name of that club, and seven of its players are on 2014 Germany’s World Cup roster of 23. Not all seven are starters, which is fortunate for the Americans.

A couple to keep an eye one will be striker Thomas Muller, the leading scorer from the 2010 World Cup, and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Muller, who was injured against Ghana, already has three scores in Brazil.

“Team USA has a very tough task against the Germans on Thursday,” said MHS boys soccer coach Todd Morris. “It’s almost like a Hollywood script, (Coach) Jurgen (Klinsmann) and his Team USA against the Germans with the opportunity to advance in the World Cup.”

Klinsmann is a former German standout and head coach of Germany’s 2006 World Cup squad. His assistant on that team was Joachim Loew, Germany’s current soccer boss.

Needless to say, Klinsmann is very familiar with Germany and its style of play – and that could be a little edge for the Americans.

In WC play in Brazil, both the U.S. and Germany have 1-0-1 records, and are coming off 2-2 draws to Portugal and Ghana, respectively.

At the end of Thursday’s Cup competition, Andrew Johnson believes the United States will have extended its visit in Brazil.

“I think (Team USA) should make it to the round of 16 (also the knockout round),” the Warren boys soccer coach said, “but as a whole the USA team isn’t dynamic enough to make a run much deeper than that.”

Price is not sure about that, especially with defending World Cup champion and top-ranked Spain already eliminated.

“I think this World Cup is more open than in past ones,” he said. “A lot of it comes down to matchups and which teams come out of the groups.”

The U.S., Germany, Ghana, and Portugal are all in Group G and still in contention to extend its World Cup play.

“With all four teams in the group still alive to advance, it will be an interesting day (Thursday) of soccer,” Morris said. “I believe if the US plays as they played against Portugal and is able to clean up some of the mental mistakes and unforced turnovers in the defensive third of the field, they have a very good opportunity to come up with the draw or win they need against the Germans. Should be a lot of fun.”

Price agreed and added, “They (U.S.) will need to play its best game (vs. Germany). Keeping them (Germany) out of the goal is hard, because they are such a good passing team.”

Still, even if the U.S. should lose to Germany, it could still advance to the Sweet 16.

But that all depends on the outcome in the Portugal vs. Ghana match.