The United States men’s soccer team stunned another of Europe’s heavyweights, with Bobby Wood’s late goal securing a first ever victory on the road over Germany. Fresh from a thrilling 4-3 win over the Netherlands in Amsterdam last week, the U.S. again impressed to overcome the concession of an early Mario Götze goal to claim victory over the world champions in Cologne thanks to Mix Diskerud’s coolly taken equalizer and Wood’s strike three minutes from the end.
For the U.S. it is another huge boost for a new cycle of players preparing to defend its title at next month’s Concacaf Gold Cup. It had looked like it would be a long night for Jurgen Klinsmann and his squad against his home country, with Germany dominating the first 30 minutes and exploiting their numerical superiority in midfield. But to the Americans’ credit they steadied the ship and scored a fine equalizer, with the excellent Michael Bradley setting up Diskerud, before the interval. And changes at the break helped the U.S. to even get on top for much of the second half, having the better of possession and taking the game to Joachim Low’s side. And it was Wood, a player relegated from the German second division with 1860 Munich this season, who followed up his winner over the Netherlands with another to fuel joyous scenes among his teammates and on the sidelines.
It was clear that this was a Germany side a long way from the team that triumphed in Brazil. The hosts started with just two players who began the World Cup final victory over Argentina and one of those, Bastian Schweinsteiger, was withdrawn at the interval. After a long season in Europe, Low had given several players the opportunity for a breather, while the coach will also have had one eye on Saturday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar. And his broad smile when greeting his old friend Klinsmann at the final whistle suggested it was a defeat that will not sting too harshly.
In contrast, the U.S. was brimming with intensity and motivation to again prove itself against one of Europe’s powerhouse teams. And, after a worrying run of form following last year’s World Cup, this European sojourn will have engineered huge confidence ahead of the Gold Cup.
It could have been a very different story and on another night, the U.S. might have been out of contention after 30 minutes. Mesut Özil failed to make the most of a clear opportunity form Götze’s pass early on, while later the Arsenal playmaker sent Götze in the clear only for the man who scored the winner in the World Cup final to be denied by Brad Guzan with a finish that lacked conviction. In between Germany did go in front. Debutant Patrick Herrmann showed his ability with a fine run inside from the right that the U.S. disappointingly failed to stop. At the end of it the Borussia Monchengladbach man found Götze to deliver a clinical side-footed effort into the corner of the net.
But after André Schürrle missed another opportunity to extend Germany’s lead, the U.S. began to get a foothold and some much needed possession. With four minutes to go before the interval, a long passing move ended with a real touch of quality to pull the U.S. level. As Germany dropped off, Bradley picked out a perfect diagonal pass to find Diskerud on the left side of the box and the New York City FC midfielder met it with a chest down and low shot past Ron-Robert Ziegler in the Germany goal.
The U.S. only grew further into the game in the second half. The introduction of Kyle Beckerman’s defensive nous in midfield and DeAndre Yedlin’s pace out wide was a major assistance in the visitors getting superiority over the home side. Klinsmann’s men came close to going in front with Gyasi Zardes getting a couple of good sights at goal and Bradley being denied by a fine save from Yedlin’s cut back. Although Sami Khedira came close to converting with a near-post header, it was the U.S. that looked the likelier side to get the winner.
And with less than three minutes remaining that’s exactly what happened, although through an unexpected source. Brad Evans’ pass into the forwards was cleverly dummied by Stanford University’s Jordan Morris and the unheralded Wood turned expertly and produced a finish of equal quality. Minutes later Khedira directed an injury-time header against the crossbar, but the U.S. would not be denied a win that will live long in the memory.