WASHINGTON— The U.S. Men’s Soccer Team put on its best offensive display in more than a year in a 4-3 win Sunday against visiting Germany to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Soccer Federation.
It did not take long for the partisan crowd of more than 47,000 to have something to cheer about, as the U.S. Soccer Team got on the scoreboard in the 13th minute on a goal by forward Jozy Altidore.
Three minutes later, the U.S. surprisingly went up 2-0 when - under pressure - German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen accidentally knocked the ball into his own net.
Six minutes into the second half, the visitors cut the lead in half, on a goal from Heiko Westerman, but then two goals by U.S. captain Clint Dempsey over a five-minute span gave the Americans a 4-1 advantage.
While that looked like a comfortable lead on an uncomfortably hot day, the Germans scored twice in a three-minute span with about 10 minutes left in regulation to trail 4-3, and the U.S. fans could not breathe easy until the final whistle.
“Obviously, we are pleased with such an entertaining game, you know, as your centennial game," U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann, who is a former German player and coach, told reporters after the game. "We told the players before, this is a special occasion, a special event. You know, 100 years of your federation playing against one of the top teams in the world and having a sell-out here at RFK. We wanted to celebrate that the right way, and I think we saw a lot of good things on the field.”
Germany is currently second in FIFA’s world rankings, while the USA is 29th. German coach Joachim Low said he knew the U.S. team would be motivated after a somewhat embarrassing 4-2 loss to visiting Belgium on Wednesday.
“In the second half we managed to step a few gears up," Low explained. "Despite the temperatures, we put up far more pressure than the first half, and I think the way we pulled this 4-1 back to only 4-3 was admirable, as far as my players are concerned, and we almost scored the equalizer, so it isn’t all bad.”
Clint Dempsey’s two goals move him into second place on the all-time men’s U.S. Soccer Team scoring list, trailing only Landon Donovan. But he said that was not even on his mind.
“It’s refreshing for the team to win. That’s the most important thing, but it’s always good when you have people scoring goals because it gives more confidence in the team, and that’s what you want moving forward,” Dempsey said.
Beginning later this week, the U.S. Soccer Team faces a crucial stretch of three World Cup qualifying matches in 12 days. The Americans travel to Kingston to face host Jamaica on Friday. Then come home matches against Panama June 11 in Seattle, Washington, and against Honduras June 18 in Sandy, Utah, outside Salt Lake City.