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USMNT’s German-Americans preparing for emotional match vs. Germany

Jurgen Klinsmann

Photo by John Todd/


RECIFE, Brazil — World Cup games are almost always significant for the players and coaches involved in them.

For U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and a few of his players, Thursday’s match will be even more special.

When the U.S. and Germany face off in their all-important and final Group G tilt at Arena Pernambuco on Thursday afternoon, Klinsmann and a number of his players will be going up against their birth nation. There is already much at stake with neither team having yet secured a place in the Round of 16, but Klinsmann and German-American players like Jermaine Jones and Fabian Johnson will have even more on their minds while they undoubtedly experience a range of emotions.

That is especially the case for Klinsmann, the 49-year-old German who played for and won a World Cup with Die Mannschaft before becoming its head coach ahead of the 2006 World Cup. Klinsmann led Germany to a memorable third-place finish at that tournament before moving on with his career, but his impact on the program still remains as his former assistant coach, Jogi Low, is currently at the helm of Germany.

Klinsmann and Low have already faced off once before in their careers, as the U.S. hosted and beat a reserve Germany squad, 4-3, last June. But that was a friendly and it will likely pale in comparison to Thursday’s game on soccer’s grandest stage.

“It’s very special. It’s something that doesn’t happen every year and probably not anymore in the lifetime, so you try to enjoy this moment.” said Klinsmann. “I’m looking forward to seeing all of them. The staff is pretty much the same as I left it when I stepped out in 2006. It’s going to be emotional – there’s no doubt about it – but I also will enjoy it.

“I always said their team is ready to take it to the end of the tournament and they have enough potential to win this World Cup. It obviously gives it more attention, because both are not yet moving to the knockout stage. But now also kind of always when there is a special moment (that) comes up like this, I let it go and in a certain moment I want to enjoy it too.”

Klinsmann added that he will also give his former colleagues warm embraces before the match, but that it’s then down to business. After all, the U.S. still needs a result in order to ensure that it moves on to the Round of 16 after conceding a late goal to Portugal in Sunday’s thrilling 2-2 draw in Manaus.

The German-American players are keen on getting that result for the U.S., but they know they will have to battle their emotions as well as the Germans in order to do so.

“I always say that I’m proud of both countries,” said Jones, who played for Germany in three friendlies before filing a one-time switch to represent the U.S. in 2010. “I grew up in Germany and they gave me a lot. That’s where I had my first steps, I played there my first games in my first leagues, I played for Germany – so I can’t say bad stuff – (and) Jogi Low gave me the chance to play for Germany.

“It’s one of the biggest football countries in the world, so it’s tough to play (against) this country but I have my games. I am still proud too when I hear the anthem from the United States. I will close my eyes and let it all go through and then will play my game.”

As emotional as the match might be for them, the German-Americans and Klinsmann’s main focus is on beating – not drawing – Germany and moving on in the tournament. A tie would send both teams through, but the Americans want the full three points.

Achieving that goal could eliminate Germany from the competition, but it doesn’t matter to the German-Americans because on Thursday they will be representing the United States.

“We will try everything to win this game,” said Jones. “We don’t go into this game and say maybe a draw happens (and) it will be enough. We want to go there and show people that we can battle and we can beat the German team.”


  1. Germany may be able to rest some of their starters, but not the U.S.
    JK has to go all out to make it to the next round.
    The consequences for the US should they go through?
    An American squad that is depleted for the next round match.
    JK will throw his fastest players at Germany in the final 20 minutes when they should be tired even after their subs come in, to tie or win the match.

  2. It must really suck to know you’re just not good enough for your country. Lucky for some of this guys they had other options.

  3. It’s refreshing that 20 comments in and there are still no POST-MORTEMS of our team and exit after the group stage. We have a good chance of advancing. I’m calling it 1-1 tomorrow. Bring on Russia.

  4. I real question does Germany just start looking ahead to the knock out round. This is a campaign for them and not wasting a bunch of energy, risking injuries, and cards is certainly the pragmatic approach to take. This isn’t about just getting out of the group for them. It’s about what gives them the best chance at lifting the trophy.

    • They won’t want to lose, because they’ll still want to win the group. So we’ll see them resting the players they feel they can without giving us too much advantage.

    • Just look at how Argentina and France played today, teams with similar circumstances and ambitions as Germany.
      They didn’t look to take their feet off the pedal – at the same time, I don’t think they played their first two games in the hot, humid north.

  5. Is it Thursday yet? Can hardly wait for this. Everyone wear your lucky pyjamas to sleep tonight and dont forget “the game before the game”

  6. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Germans handle the heat. They fried in DC and looked seriously winded against Ghana. As for the US I hope they don’t have to concede a goal again to know that they are a good team. No doubt all the Germans want to win badly, I remember when we played England I couldn’t stop trash talking half of my family.

      • I will help from having games in places where it’s too humid or hot in the summer like Texas and Florida. Although Florida is too close to ingore because of proximity to South America.

    • I wonder if this will be the 1st 40 team world cup. A 40 team world cup in America granting the Euro stays at its current level and the dollar rises. Mad money people…mad money…this probably won’t happen. They could move the Quatar cup back 4 or 8 yrs giving them time to actually build stadiums ethically…this probably won’t happen

      • That was my thought, too. And… would CONCACAF still get just 3 + a play-in, should it have two host nations? Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama have to be looking at this report and thinking, “Oh crap.”

  7. Who’s to say exactly what these guys will be thinking and what they will do, but if BOTH teams are smart, they’ll play a conservative game. Neither team needs to win to advance out of the group, and Germany does not need to win the game to win the group. On the flip side, a loss for either team could carry significant consequences, for the US potential elimination, and for Germany loss of first place in the group. Elimination is not a likely scenario for Germany unless Ghana were to put up a 6-0 win on Portugal…yeah, right.

    • It’s not quite as bad as Ghana beating Portugal 6-0 for Germany to go home.

      If the USA wins 2-0 and Ghana wins 3-0, Ze Germans are drawing lots.

    • Just look at the Argentina v Nigeria game. The Argentines didn’t much from that game, even less than Germany, and they gave Nigeria a hell of a game and beat them.
      France was in a similar situation as well and only Ecuador’s goalkeeper kept that game a draw.
      Point being despite “common sense” being both nations playing conservative to keep it a draw, I don’t that to happen.
      I think the weather itself will keep the game somewhat tight, nobody will want to run themselves into ground after two tough games in the brutal heat – but they will go at each other.
      I just hope the US error at the end of the Portugal doesn’t cost us the way Ecuador’s error cost them against Switzerland.

  8. just imagine how badly JK wants to win this game and potentially (though highly unlikely) knock Germany out…this is the same guy who left off an-form 2nd or 3rd best CURRENT offensive option the USMNT had at its disposal just because LD was going through his sabbatical 18 months ago… JK carries grudges and does not forget….

    Remember- he was criticized and ridiculed for his American ways up until WC 2006-had a few weeks of positive vibes and recognition as the team did well then quit and went back to California to wait for Sunil to come crawling on his knees and give him the world. When he didn’t get everything he wanted he came back to Germany to coach Bayern only for it to completely blow up in his face. Germany, meanwhile, under Low has done just as well as with JK so the thinking is that Low is the tactical genius and JK was meerly a cheerleader in the right place at the right time….

    do you all understand how much this must burn him inside… you think he’s playing for a tie? he wants to win by 2 or 3 and send the Germans packing with Ghana blowing out Portugal by 3…

    he probalby hired Berti just to keep himself in check to be pragmatic-I have zero doubt that JK would badly want to stick it to the Germans and tilt history back in his favor…

    • Yawn… no doubt he wants to win, but all the amateur psychoanalysis is no doubt off base and pointless.

      • Dang, got the recovered amishman, bored?.
        Actually nice info Blokhin, maybe more than half the
        green folks out there don’t know all the back story.
        These sort of things
        do play into things tactically and so on.
        psycho analysis is crazy talk,
        sport psychology, now that just might be something?.

      • Actually it sounds pretty consistent with what we know.

        Klinsmann has not gotten his due as a coach, especially in Europe, where he is indeed regarded as a bit of a cheerleader and a fraud by many, though some (when pushed) will admit he did have a hand in reviving a stodgy German program that was rapidly getting as stale as, well, England has been forever.

        America – and Klinsmann – can earn a whole lot of street cred by beating Germany. It’s going to be pretty hard for the Germans to write Klinsmann off as a fraud if he takes it to Low.

        Of course, the opposite is true – if Low takes it on the chin from the USA and Klinsmann, and (God help him), Germany is somehow eliminated thereby…the German press and public will eat Low alive.

        By the way, I personally like well-written speculation as long as it’s clearly presented as such (and the prior post was), and people who sneer snidely at it without offering alternative insight are message-board cancers. Conversing and offering opinions, after all, are kinda what discussion forums are FOR…

      • The background stuff on JK, the ridicule he took for living in SoCal , Lahm’s book dissing him and other assorted issues are all relevant but everyone seems to be forgetting the central fact about JK.

        He is hyper competitive, has always taken risks and has always been a very bad loser. No one in the USMNT camp wants to win more than JK. That is why Clint is the captain. With the possible exception of JJ, no one else comes close to having the same attitude towards winning as Clint does.

        This game represents a test against a German team that is possibly the best in the world, are in good form and are playing in near a do or die situation at the highest possible level.

        This game will tell you just how good a job JK has done with this team.

        If they beat Germany in this game, then they can beat anyone.

        Regardless of what happens afterwards this is a watershed moment for this edition of the USMNT.

        JK will go for a win and try to run up the score if at all and really thinks they are that good.

        Not because he hates Germany but because he really loves this team and wants to show them off to the World.

        And, from a pragmatic point of view, going for a draw, especially against Germany, who have so many ways to kill you, is a sure recipe for a loss.

      • Quozzel…”message board cancer” is a bit harsh, don’t you think? You say you want insight, fine, but speculation of the sort that presents a grand unifying theory of why JK does what he does is not insight, it’s just b.s. There are much better explanations for why JK wants to win than because he needs vindication for a presumed grudge against LD. JK, like many people in sports is a hyper-competitive person. That’s really all you need to know.

    • I think he’d prefer Germany to win 2nd, but in all honesty its the players who decide how hard they go for the challenges and how many numbers they press forward.

      I don’t expect either team to press the issue or sacrifice their bodies to win the ball.

      • I think this game will be played straight up. If it’s still level with 10-15 minutes left, then I could see both teams taking their foot off the gas since a draw is good enough for both teams.

      • Belgium is better than Algeria or Russia? How do you figure? I know Belgium hasn’t looked great but they were good enough to beat both those sides.

      • I think he means the potential semifinal matchup being one of Greece, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Netherlands. At least, that’s what I hope he means, because I’d much rather play Algeria and France/Nigeria than Belgium and Argentina.

      • Oh I haven’t even looked ahead to the semi-finals or anything like that. I’m still concerned with actually getting out of the group!

      • Although, it would have been mighty interesting had Nigeria beaten Argentina and Belgium loses tomorrow. Can you imagine a final 16 in which one side has Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, France and Belgium, while the other side has Netherlands, Mexico, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Russia and Greece? Talk about imbalance.

    • I think Klinsmann would love to win this game however I don’t think he is thinking he wants to stick it to the German’s by knocking them out and getting revenge on the country of his birth, the country he represented, the country he won the World Cup with and the country he coached 2 World Cups ago.

    • If anything LD would be a liability against Germany. His failure to score against them in 2002 still haunts his soul .. I’ll take JK over Donovan any day

    • Too much BS here blokhin. Yeah JK probably wants an outright victory but will be thrilled to be able to move on if it happens in a draw.

      Your vilification of JK at this juncture is merely whining. It’s also time to move on regarding the LD situation. Heck, he couldn’t even score beside Robbie Keene against the Carolina Railsplitters this week.

  9. Even if Germany lost it would probably not eliminate them for the tournament with their high goal differential. As fo the US, if we lost it could be much more likely that we might be eliminated. So go USA!

    • wouldn’t Ghana have to win by a 2 goal margin to eliminate US? We have a ” +1″ and they have a ” -1″. Problem with this scenario is that can’t see Portugal staying with Ghana. Then again, can Portugal have three poor games in a row? Should be a wide-open affair with both teams needing wins and GD improvement.

      (not saying i like that scenario)


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