HOUSTON – The Group of Death is really living up to its name. Every team in the group is still in the running for the two spots in the Round of 16 available to it with one fixture date to play.
The US has done its job and lived up to their expectations of having at least four points going into their last game. Although the US are unlucky not to have all six points, as a last-second goal by Portugal put a wrinkle in our guaranteed spot in the Round of 16, when we look at each team's positions in the standings they all have put themselves in a good spot to move on. Barring a complete meltdown by the US, this should be enough to see them through.
Germany comes into this game as heavy favorites and with the advantage of having an additional day's rest. If you have ever experienced the type of travel or played in the conditions that the US has been through, you will know that those circumstances take a toll on you physically. Just ask Italy, Cameroon, Croatia, and England how their second games went after playing in Manaus in their first game.
Having a day less to rest on top of having played under such adverse conditions does not provide me with much optimism. The physical toll on Team USA's key players is a major concern, especially where I feel we do not have the depth to rest or replace them without a significant decline. This is where the US could have benefited from a player like Landon Donovan that we can bring in to help other players rest without suffering a significant decline on the field.
It will be interesting to see what Jurgen Klinsmann does with the lineup. Does he stay with the same players? Should the US advance, what effect would this have on their fitness in the next round? Does he put in a few fresh legs to add energy to the US side, considering they will be under pressure for long stretches during the game?
With the Germans' depth and extra day of rest I feel that it is going to take a Herculean effort from the US team to get a result. However, if this team has proved one thing, it is that they are resilient and determined. The US has played in these types of conditions before in qualifying, and is more resilient to the elements than those teams that have previously played in Manaus.
I think that the US team does have it in them and will move on to the next round on a 1 -0 loss.
The US and Germany take the pitch Thursday at 11 a.m.
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