USA needs its A game against German B team

[USA-GERMANY] Previewing Germany's U.S. tour, one German reporter joked that the players will need their ID badges showing to assure the team bus driver they're allowed on board. Spiegel Online said Germany is playing "test games" with nothing to test, because Coach Joachim Loew's squad is already set with players not on this trip. But this German B team showed with a 4-2 win over Ecuador on Wednesday in Florida that the Americans face a stiff challenge on Sunday in Washington, D.C. (kickoff: 2:30 pm ET; ESPN2, WatchESPN and UniMas).

Halfway through World Cup 2014 qualifying, Germany is in absolute command -- undefeated and with twice as many points as its nearest competitors, and scoring an average of 3.67 goals per game. But the juggernaut is motored by players from Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich (which plays in the German Cup final on Saturday) and aren’t with the team, while midfielders Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira are still busy with Real Madrid in La Liga.

At least a few of the German players at RFK Stadium on Sunday may be recognizable to the fans who are spending an average of $60 for seats.

Miroslav Klose, the 34-year-old striker who has scored 14 goals in the past three World Cups, joined the squad after the Ecuador game, arriving after winning the Italian Cup with Lazio in a 1-0 win over Roma on Sunday.

Lukas Podolski, 27, made history on Wednesday with the fastest goal ever for Germany, scoring nine seconds after kickoff. He scored again in the win over Ecuador to give him 46 career national team goals. If he scores against the USA, he’ll tie for fourth on the Germany’s all-time leading scorers’ list with Jurgen Klinsmann, the man Podolski played for at the 2006 World Cup and had a falling out with at Bayern Munich during Klinsmann’s short stint at the German power when Klinsmann tried out Landon Donovan.

Podolski was relegated to brief appearances off the bench in 2014 World Cup qualifying so far and is fighting his way back in Loew’s favor. He now plays at Arsenal, along with defender Per Mertesacker, who made his 89th appearance when he captained the team against Ecuador.

The fourth player with decent prospects of going to Brazil is 22-year-old Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Andre Schuerrle, for whom Chelsea is reportedly willing to pay some $25 million.

Half the German players on the U.S. trip have fewer than five caps, but their inexperience with the national team is much a reflection of how hard it is to break into Loew’s well-established squad of relatively young players.

In 2010, when the Germans finished third and played their best soccer at a World Cup since 1990, the team averaged an age of only 24.7 years. Players such as Schuerrle, Schalke’s 19-year-old Julian Draxler and Bayer Leverkusen’s 24-year-old Lars Bender, who scored twice against Ecuador, might be shoo-ins for spots in the German midfield were this not the era of Ozil, Khedira, Thomas Mueller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Goetze, Toni Kroos and Marco Reus.

Klinsmann’s first time coaching against his former team might be against a B team, but it’s a second string full of players who’d be first-choice for most other nations.

14 comments about "USA needs its A game against German B team".
  1. R2 Dad, May 31, 2013 at 9:42 a.m.

    I do not know this as a fact, but it seems that there is some seniority pecking order on the MNT. We certainly don't have 19 year olds breaking into the squad, regardless of skills. It was so painful to watch the Belgium match, where our back line looked lame and the overall tempo was slow.

  2. Dan Phillips, May 31, 2013 at 11:15 a.m.

    Stop playing Jozy Altidore. I don't care how many goals he scores in the Dutch league. He is worthless. Lazy, lumbering forward. Play Heculez Gomez and Eddie Johnson up top. We need 2 strikers in front, not one. 4-4-2 is the best formation for the US.

  3. Jim Williams, May 31, 2013 at 11:32 a.m.

    The USA had better start working on player development and soon. You can't keep treading water and going nowhere and that's all our mens team does. The women are an inspiration while the men are an embarrassment. Even some of the diehard fans are starting to shake their heads. You've got to find the talent in this country and find a way to keep them in the sport and put some power on the field. Right now, after all these years, we have a back line that's full of holes and a front line that can't find the net. We're not showing up for the games. All this talk about players going overseas for experience is just a lot of talk. I'm not seeing any results on the field. Don't tell me we're doing all we can. With so many playing soccer there has to be better players available but too many are playing baseball in the summer instead of keeping with soccer. If this doesn't change then hang up the boots because we will never be anything but the team to be laughed at and abused by the rest of the world. True.

  4. Luis Arreola, May 31, 2013 at 1:58 p.m.

    Jim, pay to play. In Chicago area travel elite soccer gets a break in the best soccer playing months of the year and often the only consistent soccer playing months of the year. Why?? Because they all cater to the pay to play parents that have the money to take 1-2 month vacations. SPring is too rainy and Fall is too cold 1/2 the time. Winter indoors. Summer vacation.

  5. Dan Phillips, May 31, 2013 at 2:12 p.m.

    First step is get rid of Jozy Altidore, once and for all. And stop using the 4-5-1 formation,and go to the traditional 4-4-2. We do not have a striker that can hold the ball up top. You need 2 strikers (Gomez and E. Johnson). With Dempsey as the attacking midfielder. Stop experimenting with multiple formations. Just stick with one (the 4-4-2), and perfect it.

  6. David Mont, May 31, 2013 at 2:56 p.m.

    Absolutely, Dan. Without Altidore, in the second half of the Belgium game, the US offense was fantastic!

  7. Bruce Moorhead, May 31, 2013 at 4:14 p.m.

    Dan, I agree we always do better with 4-4-2. Bradley and Klinsi have both been stubborn and foolish. The fact is Altidore plays much better when he is not the lone striker. David, I agree we did nothing with Johnson and then Boyd as striker in the 2nd half. Josi is not the problem. Bring back Donovan! I think 11 of Josi's goals are from Donovan assists. His passing is still sharp for the Galaxy.

  8. Gary Guehler, May 31, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.

    Bet that the German B team has a set lineup, when was the last time the US started the same 11 two games in a row?

  9. Bruce Moorhead, May 31, 2013 at 4:21 p.m.

    Also, I thought Beasley did better than a 4 rating at left back and Johnson did well when moved to left half. I think Gonzalez is overrated, maybe needs more games and this is not the time to practice. Still feel the team would benefit from Bocanegra's experience, and we need Cherundolo at right back for now. Rebuild after the WC.

  10. Dan Phillips, May 31, 2013 at 4:50 p.m.

    Tha back line can be fixed, once we get our injured players back (Chandler, Fabian Johnson). But the Foward situation needs to be resolved. Obviously Jozy Altidore needs to be cut once and for all. Give it up, he will never make it with USMNT. And we need to go back to a 4-4-2 with Herculez Gomez and Eddie Johnson as the 2 forwards. That would give us the best chance of a scoring thereat.

  11. Aresenal Fan, May 31, 2013 at 5:21 p.m.

    It will be a tough game, lots of quality on this "German B" team, starting with our Arsenal players BGF and Podoski.

  12. Dan Phillips, May 31, 2013 at 6:42 p.m.

    US only has chance if JK does NOT play Atidore, and use two forwards (Heculez Gomez and Eddie Johnson). Otherwise forget it. With Jozy Atidore as the lone striker, they will get 0 goals.

  13. Art Robles, May 31, 2013 at 7:36 p.m.

    Um, Chandler sucks.

  14. beautiful game, June 1, 2013 at 10:09 a.m.

    US offense in the second half v Belgium was fantastic?!!? Delusional; the whole team stunk from the start to the finish, as did the TV commentary.

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