It’s a bright early evening in Cologne, with Joachim Löw’s newly-rebranded “Die Mannschaft” taking on former boss Jürgen Klinsmann’s United States – a repeat of the World Cup group game between the two sides last year in a soggy Recife where the teams were separated by a second-half Thomas Müller strike. With the final Euro 2016 qualifier of the season against Gibraltar to follow, it has been a tough year for the World Champions and their coach Joachim Löw.
It is an experimental German lineup with ‘keeper Manuel Neuer being rested and centre-backs Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels both missing – resulting in yet another experimental and slightly makeshift back four. Bastian Schweinsteiger has the captain’s armband, and Borussia Mönchengladbach’s dynamic winger Patrick Herrmann is making his long-awaited debut at full international level after an excellent season in the Bundesliga.
Of the German team that lined up for the game in Brazil just under a year ago, there are only two of that eleven starting tonight – skipper Schweinsteiger and Arsenal playmaker Mesut Özil. The USA meanwhile are coming into the game off the back of a 4-3 win over the Netherlands – a game that saw them come back from 3-1 down. This is the eleventh meeting between the two teams, with Germany winning seven of the previous ten and the Americans three.
As the teams emerge for the playing of the national anthems, there is a magnificent choreo display marking the re-branding of the German national team as “Die Mannschaft”. For years some of us English-language writers have used this term and occasionally been picked at by the purists, but now it has become official. According to BT Sport commentator Derek Rae, the name change was suggested by Bundeskanzerin Angela Merkel. So there we are.
1 min. The visitors kick off in an all-blue kit with white trim, while Germany are in their now familiar all-white ensemble. Germany v the United States, Adidas v Nike… it’s all happening.
3 mins. The busy Herrmann makes his first foray down the right, but his cross is a little too strong as it flies beyond the opposition penalty area.
4 mins. Home town boy Jonas Hector is looking to impress early on, and wins Germany’s first corner. The ball is swung in, but Stuttgart’s Antonio Rüdiger is unable to make more of it. Bastian Schweinsteiger is in space but cannot reach the ball.
5 mins. A neat German move sees Mario Götze set up André Schürrle, but the Wolfsburg winger’s shot is weak and ends up safely in the hands of US ‘keeper Brad Guzan.
6 mins. Herrmann sends in another cross which is collected by Götze who cuts the ball back inside for Mesut Özil. The Arsenal man’s shot is on target but straight at Guzan. This has been a bright start by the home side.
10 mins. The US get their first shot in. Aron Johannsson works well down the right to cut the ball back into the German box, and after Michael Bradley dummies Mikkel Diskerud unleashes a shot that flies just over crossbar.
12 mins. It’s that man Herrmann again. Collecting the ball out on the right, the Borussia Mönchengladbach man dances inside past three static-looking defenders and is allowed to deliver a pin-point pass to Götze, who almost caresses the ball home with his right foot from ten yards. 1-0.
Mario Götze celebrates Germany’s opening goal after just twelve minutes
15 mins. Klinsmann’s side launch another attack, but are almost caught cold as the men in white break quickly. It’s Hermann who is right in the thick of things again, but this time his cross can only find a blue shirt.
18 mins. İlkay Gündoğan advances into the opposition half and looks to find Schürrle out on the left, but the Dortmund man’s pass is a little too strong.
19 mins. Schürrle has a speculative effort that flies narrowly wide.
21 mins. Gündogan is swiped off his feet by Danny Williams, who is booked. As play switches to the other end Rüdiger is almost dispossessed by Juan Agudelo but managed to keep his composure.
23 mins. Schürrle charges towards the edge of the American penalty area, but his pass goes astray.
26 mins. Özil looks to dink the ball in for Hermann who is lurking with intent on the right side of the US penalty area, but the right-sided winger’s shot is way too ambitious.
28 mins. Johannsson is allowed to take a run towards the edge of the German box, but Ron-Robert Zieler is left untroubled as the AZ Alkmaar man sends his shot well over the target. Germany haven’t been particularly stellar at the back, but their opponents have so far been unable to take advantage of the wobbling German Viererkette.
31 mins. Hermann is the initiator again, as he sets up another concerted move forward by the Mannschaft. His pass inside finds Özil, who in turn picks out Götze who just has Guzan to beat. It’s an excellent chance, but the American ‘keeper does enough to put Götze off and block with his leg as the FC Bayern man tries to walk it into the net.
32 mins. Götze turns provider this time, and his looping ball finds the backpedalling Schürrle whose header is on target but straight into the arms of Guzan.
34 mins. Schürrle appeals loudly as he is challenged by Tim Chandler in the box, but the Dutch referee waves play on. It was a fifty-fifty ball, and after looking at the replay a fair decision.
37 mins. Former German youth international Fabian Johnson breaks down the right and looks for Bradley who is just at the edge of the German penalty area, but Rüdiger intercepts and smashes the ball clear.
39 mins. There’s plenty of possession for Löw’s side, but there is always the fear of their being caught out. The Americans break quickly, and Chandler’s cross-cum-shot is firmly struck but easily gathered by Zieler.
41 mins. Out of almost nowhere, the Americans are back in it. Bradley completely outflanks the German defence with an exquisite pass for Diskerud, who finds himself in acres of space with Sebastian Rudy out of position. Rudy is unable to cut off the Norwegian-born striker, who chests the ball down neatly before drilling the ball past Zieler with his right foot. 1-1.
43 mins. Another break from Klinsmann’s men who have suddenly noticed the gaps in the German defence. This time Tim Chandler sets up Gyasi Zardes who lashes the ball over the crossbar.
44 mins. It’s end to end stuff now as the half-time break approaches. Hermann has possession at the edge of the box, but this time he goes for the shot instead of the pass inside. His effort is badly sliced and flies wide of the near post.
45 mins. The whistle blows for half-time. After a bright start and an early goal Germany could very easily have been three goals ahead, but were made to pay for their profligacy as the Americans hit back four minutes before the break with a well-taken goal. Patrick Herrmann has been the best German player by a considerable margin.
There are a number of changes for both sides as they emerge for the start of the second half. Sami Khedira and local Köln cult hero Lukas Podolski are on for Schweinsteiger and Schürrle, while for the US Johnson, Williams and Agudelo make way for DeAndre Yedlin, Brad Evans and Kyle Beckerman.
46 mins. Die Nationalmannschaft – or should that just be Die Mannschaft – get things under way.
48 mins. It’s an FC Köln moment as Hector combines with Podolski, and Germany win a corner which comes to nothing.
50 mins. There’s just a little panic at the back as Diskerud’s floated pass is almost collected by Zardes, but this time Rudy is a little stronger as he makes the challenge.
52 mins. Zardes beats Shkodran Mustafi out on the left, and Hector is just in time to sweep the ball away from the fast-advancing Yedlin. Klinsmann’s side have started strongly, and will be looking to take advantage of the cobbled-together German back four.
56 mins. The US win a corner and the German defence are again at sixes and sevens. The increasingly dangerous-looking Zardes gets a shot in, and then full-back Ventura Alvorado’s effort is well blocked by Skhodran Mustafi.
60 mins. Another change for the Germans, with Christoph Kramer coming on for Gündogan. The US have been the better side for the opening fifteen minutes of the second half, and the first-half’s star Herrmann seems to have completely disappeared.
65 mins. A more than decent chance for the USA. Chandler miskicks with the goal at his mercy, and the German defence continues to look shaky in the face of a determined opponent who have grown in confidence as the match has progressed. It hard to say whether the changes have changed the German approach, but their play is nowhere near as as inspired compared to the first half.
66 mins. Khedira makes a buccaneering run into the box after laying the ball off for Herrmann, but is unable to get decent contact to meet the return pass. Hermann had disappeared for a while, but that was yet another very nice cross from the debutant. Khedira should arguably have done better as the ball glances off his head.
68 mins. There’s a late flag as Götze is caught offside.
70 mins. The yellow card is out for Yedlin for a late challenge on Özil. Götze’s free-kick is easily cleared by John Anthony Brooks.
72 mins. There’s more possession now for Die Mannschaft, but the visitors are keeping their discipline. Germany are clearly leading the possession stats, but Guzan has spent most of the second half untroubled.
73 mins. Germany make a double change, as goalscorer Götze is replaced by Max Kruse and Karim Bellarabi comes on for Herrmann. The US also make a couple of changes as Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood and Alfredo Morales come on for Johansson, Zardes and Diskerud.
74 mins. Morris almost makes an immediate impact as he sends a stinging left-footed shot that fizzes past Zieler’s right post.
79 mins. Rüdiger gets forward, and after combining with Özil unleashes a decent effort from distance that flies narrowly over the crossbar.
80 mins. Bradley sends in a corner Pierre-Littbarski style, and Zieler punches clear.
82 mins. A lovely move from the Americans, and Bradley has a clear sight of goal. He has the entire goal to aim at, but his left-footed shot is straight at Zieler who does well to get his body behind it to effect the block.
84 mins. Jogi Löw is looking very pensive on the sidelines alongside Thomas Schneider and Andy Köpke. This is a largely experimental German side, but the second half performance has at times been poor and uninspired. This may be a rebranded team, but things are looking the same as they have since the World Cup – it has been a long hangover.
87 mins. Germany are caught cold yet again, and it’s Mustafi this time who looks like he is treading in quicksand. The Valencia defender is left for dead by Bobby Wood after yet another fast American break, and the substitute’s left-footed shot leaves Zieler no chance. What a fantastic strike. 1-2.
Bobby Wood is faster than Skhodran Mustafi, and sends the ball past Zieler to seal the win for the visitors
90 mins. The clock ticks into the four minutes of additional time, and nobody can argue that the Klinsmann’s side haven’t deserved that.
90+2 mins. Karim Bellarabi wins a corner out on the right, but it comes to nothing. Özil loops a high ball into the box and the imposing Rüdiger, but Guzan calmly makes the catch.
90+4 mins. It’s the last chance of the game, as Khedira’s header crashes against the crossbar after taking the slightest of deflections off Evans.
The final whistle blows. Jogi Löw is all smiles as he congratulates Jürgen Klinsmann, but the German coach will be left to mull over another experiment that started brightly but finished completely flat. It has been a long season, and one can be grateful that the next opponents in the European Championship qualifiers are whipping boys Gibraltar.
v United States, RheinEnergieStadion, Köln, 10.06.2015
Götze 12. / Diskerud 41., Wood 87.
Germany: Zieler – Rudy, Mustafi, Rüdiger , Hector – Schweinsteiger (c) (46. Khedira), Gündoğan (60. Kramer) – Herrmann (73. Bellarabi), Özil, Schürrle (46. Podolski) – Götze (73. Kruse)
United States: Guzan – Chandler, Alvarado, Brooks, Johnson (46. Yedlin) – Williams (46. Evans) – Zardes (74. Wood), Bradley (c), Diskerud (74. Morales) – Johannsson (74. Morris), Agudelo (46. Beckerman)
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)
Assistants: Mario Diks, Hessel Steegstra (Netherlands)
Fourth Official: Kevin Blom (Netherlands)
Yellow Cards: – / Williams, Yedlin
Red Cards: – / –
Attempts on Target: 6 / 3
Attempts off Target: 5 / 6
Corners: 4 / 2
Fouls Committed: 5 / 13
* Full international debut