When you enter the Group of Death the goal is simple - advance. Despite losing to Germany the United States did just that. Playing in a downpour and with the Jozy Altidore injury Jurgen Klinsmann again went with Clint Dempsey as the lone forward. The 1-0 loss did not prevent the Americans for going to their second straight World Cup knockout stage. Thomas Müller's 55th minute goal won the group for Germany, but Portugal's 2-1 win over Ghana was not enough to vault them over the United States.
The results of today's second set of matches will matter as the USA will face the winner of Group H. While the route is not easy, when a nation advances to the knockouts it is never easy.
Victory eluded the Americans, but late in the second half there were more chances. Most of these came through interplay that involved Clint or DeAndre Yedlin (who entered in the 84th minute). Where the first half was a mainly defensive affair the second started with the US seeing Clint fail to connect on a few passes to the left.
World Cup Bracket
World Cup Bracket
When Yedlin entered the attack shifted. Immediately things opened up and still weren't quite good enough. He worked with Clint and Jermaine Jones. One could get bogged down in tactics at this point, but that would miss the larger picture.
Months ago this looked like a Group where the USA was destined to fail to advance. The "best chance" wasn't good and it involved beating Ghana, drawing Portugal and a narrow loss to Germany. They did just that. They also showed that they are capable of a tiny bit more than that. This was a side capable of winning a Group of Death. A side stacked with MLS talent held its own against three nations with players in the best leagues and the best teams in the world.
The next couple of weeks are simple - no more draws, no more managing of games. It's as simple as win or go home. Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin may be gone for a while. That's alright.