WASHINGTON – In need of an encouraging performance ahead of three upcoming World Cup qualifying matches, the United States men’s national team delivered in grand fashion Sunday with a 4-3 victory over Germany to commemorate U.S. Soccer's Centennial Celebration in style at RFK Stadium.
In front of a sold-out crowd of 47,359 in the nation’s capital, a US attack that was searching for the creativity and finishing ability that eluded the side early in 2013 drew inspiration from Jozy Altidore’s 13th-minute volley and didn’t look back.
US captain Clint Dempsey added a pair of goals in the second half, one assisted by Altidore, to give the Yanks their third victory all-time against Germany and the first since 1999.
Following a dreadful own-goal credited to Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen on a ball played to him by Benedikt Howedes in the 16th minute helped the Americans to a 2-0 halftime lead, Germany’s Heiko Westermann scored on a set-piece header, assisted by Max Kruse, in the 51st minute to draw Joachim Löw’s club within one.
Nine minutes later, Altidore found Dempsey with a brilliant cross after holding the ball up near the endline, and Deuce didn’t miss for his 34th international goal. Dempsey’s 35th, which moved him into second place all-time in the US record books, came five minutes later on a sublime shot from just outside the 18 – a left-footed screamer to the far-post, upper-90 that sent the crowd into hysterics and gave the US a 4-1 lead.
Germany didn’t go quietly, however, as two goals in a three-minute span made things interesting.
Kruse netted Germany’s second goal with a near-post blast past US goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 79th minute before Julian Draxler knocked home a rebound off the hands of a diving Howard two minutes later to create a chaotic final 10 minutes.
But despite the late defensive lapses, the Yanks held on for the surprising victory.
Altidore’s goal, the strike that set the tone for the match, was clinical. The big forward started the move with intelligent hold-up play, and Dempsey triggered the counterattack with possession through the center of the pitch before playing Graham Zusi into the near corner. Zusi wasted little time in delivering a sublime cross to a wide-open Altidore, who blasted a right-footed volley by ter Stegen.
Altidore, who set a record for an American in Europe by totaling 31 goals in all competitions with AZ Alkmaar, was dynamic from the start, splitting two defenders in the second minute to signal his intent before flicking a header wide in the seventh. Altidore finished the first half with four shots, matching his total from his previous four appearances combined.
Germany’s own-goal proved the lowlight in an uncharacteristic first half for Löw’s side, which included two misses just wide from inside the 18 and a goal disallowed for offside.
Pressure by both Jermaine Jones in the middle and Zusi on the outside forced an ill-advised back pass by Howedes that ter Stegen couldn’t keep from trickling into his own net.
The Germans weren’t much sharper offensively in the first half, either, as Per Mertesacker pushed an attempt wide left in the 11th minute after Howard was beat and Andre Schurrle did the same eight minutes later. Draxler then put one by Howard in the 24th minute, but the goal was called offside.
Germany eventually found the score sheet when Westermann outmuscled Omar Gonzalez on an emphatic header at the tail end of a corner kick by Kruse. That goal, however, was followed by Dempsey’s double before the Germans made things tight in the 80th minute.
The Yanks will now prepare for Friday night’s qualifier against Jamaica at National Stadium in Kingston (9:30 pm ET, beIN Sport | Live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Jozy Altidore||The seemingly snakebit forward was a willing and effective target, plus the goal and assist broke his USMNT slump before a crucial stretch.|
|2||Michael Bradley/Jermaine Jones||Yeah, this is cheating, but it was the midfield tandem that truly controlled the game until Germany got rolling late in the second half.|
|3||Clint Dempsey||The guy just scores goals, and his second-half double was both classy and necessary, plus it means Deuce is No. 2 in the US record books.|