The United States advanced the furthest in history in World Cup play after losing to Germany, 1-0, Thursday. The team moves on to the knockout round because Ghana lost, 2-1, to Portugal.
Even in defeat, the Americans determined the advancement “a huge, huge step, and now we can’t wait until round of 16,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said after the match. “Everyone said we had no chance, we took the chance and move on. And now we really want to prove a point.”
Thomas Muller’s 55th-minute goal gave Germany the victory over the U.S. to win Group G, but the Americans advanced as runners-up with Portugal’s win in a game played simultaneously in Brasilia.
The Germans, three-time World Cup champions, finished with seven points, while the U.S. had four after allowing a 95th-minute goal against Portugal on Sunday in a 2-2 draw. Portugal also had four, but the Americans advanced from a so-called “Group of Death” because their goal difference was even and the Portuguese were minus-3.
Muller moved level with Lionel Messi and Neymar at the top of the World Cup scoring charts with his fourth goal.
The Bayern Munich midfielder scored his ninth goal in as many World Cup appearances 10 minutes into the second half. Per Mertesacker’s header was pushed out instinctively by U.S. keeper Tim Howard, but the ball fell out to Muller, who picked his spot in the bottom right-hand corner of the goal from the edge of the penalty area.
Still, “It’s a good feeling because now it’s really just a clear picture for everyone. Just focus on that one opponent you have for that next game. … We’ll just talk about one team to beat at a time and this is why I’m really excited” about this next phase, Klinsmann said.