Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 FIFA World Cup: Group Stage

The U.S. Men’s National Team will play Group H winner Belgium in its next match on July 1, at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, in the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The U.S. men’s national soccer team is going to the knockout stage of the World Cup, not because it defeated — or even tied — Germany on Thursday afternoon. They lost the game, 1-0, but won the right to remain at soccer’s quadrennial jamboree by virtue of a superior goal differential over Portugal in Group G, the so-called Group of Death.

Germany (2-0-1, seven points) rode Thomas Müller’s 55th-minute goal — his fourth of the tournament — to win the quartet and earn a round-of-16 meeting with Algeria on Monday in Porto Alegre.

The USA won 4-3 when the two nations last met in a friendly in June 2013. They have met twice before at the World Cup. Germany won 2-0 in 1998, when current USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann scored the second goal, and 1-0 in the 2002 quarterfinals.

Miroslav Klose is only the third player in World Cup history to score in four different editions of the competition (after Pele and Uwe Seeler).

Nani put Portugal ahead in the opening five minutes. Michael Bradley missed a golden opportunity in the second half, as his shot was cleared off the line by the knee of Ricardo Costa, but Jermaine Jones drew the United States level with the best goal of his life. Clint Dempsey scored in the 81st, but the win wasn't to be. With a last-minute goal in the 95th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo and Silvestre Varela combined to steal a draw on virtually the last kick of the ball.

The victory over Ghana attracted the biggest U.S. television audience for a football match - 16 million people. The draw with Portugal smashed that record with an average of 24.7 million viewers. And the match against Germany in Recife is expected to surpass even that.

The concluding game of the NBA Finals last week drew an audience of 18 million as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat, while Major League Baseball's hallowed World Series averaged just short of 15 million viewers. The audience for regular-season games in the NFL in 2013 was 21 million, although the Super Bowl was the most-watched program in US history with 111.5 million viewers.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender John Brooks scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute and forward Clint Dempsey scored the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history as the USA earned a thrilling 2-1 victory against Ghana in front of a crowd of 39,760 at Estadio das Dunas in the Group G opener for both teams at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Brooks became the first U.S. MNT substitute to score a goal in a FIFA World Cup. Dempsey became the first USA player to score in three separate World Cups and U.S. MNT goalkeeper Tim Howard made four saves to lead the squad to its third opening-game win in the tournament. It also marked the USA’s first international win against Ghana, which defeated the U.S. in the two previous World Cups.

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