United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann will be striving to ensure he avoids a second resounding defeat in four days as his side takes on the country with which he achieved success as both a player and coach. Indeed, Klinsmann will likely feel a sizable sense of pride when gazing at the U.S.’ opponents in Washington DC on Sunday for the part he played in helping to kick start the German revolution back at the 2006 World Cup. In the years since, Germany have continued to embrace their own footballing identity while adding the best elements of the modern game, yet Klinsmann has yet to show real signs of leading the U.S. down the same path.
With plenty of people suggesting that it was current Germany coach, and Klinsmann’s then assistant, Joachim Low that played the biggest role in the side’s reinvention in 2006, the former striker has even more incentive for his current team to put on a good show at RFK Stadium.
Yet, a 4-2 defeat to Belgium on Wednesday showed how far the U.S. is from matching the world’s elite teams. With important World Cup qualifiers to come this month against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras, there are concerns that heavy defeats in these two tough friendlies could leave the squad demoralized when points are at stake. But Klinsmann is keen to focus on the benefits of his players testing themselves against leading opposition.
“There’s a lot we can learn from these opponents,” he said, according to USSoccer.com. “This is why we play teams like Belgium, like Germany, like Russia or like Italy because there’s so much that you can read from those games. Obviously you want to win them and when you lose them it’s not such a big pleasure, but I’d rather play Belgium 10 more times than El Salvador 100 times because that’s where you learn.”
On the same day that the U.S. fell to a talented Belgium side, a second-string Germany was going on an early tear against Ecuador in Florida. With players from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund -- who make up the bulk of the squad -- not making the trip, there was an unfamiliar look to the side. But there was still an abundance of quality on show as evidenced by Germany establishing a 4-0 lead inside 25 minutes. The lineup against the U.S. will be boosted by the presence of Miroslav Klose and with Dortmund pair Kevin Grosskreutz and Sven Bender having flown in.
D: Cameron, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley
M: Jones, Bradley
Zusi, Dempsey, Johnson
G: Ter Stegen
D: Howedes, Westermann, Mertesacker, Jansen
M: S. Bender, L. Bender
Grosskreutz, Draxler, Schurrle
Prediction: Germany may have far from a full strength squad but they still have more than enough quality to cause the United States serious problems. A robust back line is likely to be complemented by creativity from exciting Schalke youngster Julian Draxler and Chelsea-bound Andre Schurrle. And up front Klose needs just one goal to equal legend Gerd Muller’s record goal tally for Germany of 68. It would be unwise to bet against the Lazio veteran both equaling and then breaking the record on Sunday.
The U.S. will be boosted, though, by the return of one of the men that Klose beat to claim the Coppa Italia last week -- Roma’s Michael Bradley. The midfielder should add some much needed control and drive to the midfield. That is still unlikely to be enough to see the U.S. come away from a tough friendly with a positive result.
USA 1-3 Germany
Where to watch: The international friendly will kick-off at 2.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.