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US to Play Germany in World Cup Quarterfinal Match - 2002-06-20

The U.S. Soccer team will take on Germany Friday in a World Cup quarterfinal match in Ulsan, South Korea.

The Germans are no strangers to the quarterfinals, having reached this stage in 14 of the 15 World Cups they have played in. But they were shockingly knocked out of the final eight by Croatia in 1998 in France, and by Bulgaria in 1994 in the United States.

The Germans are hoping it will not happen a third straight time when they take on the Americans in South Korea.

The USA has two wins and four losses in career matches against Germany. One of those defeats was at the last World Cup, but it was in group round-play, not in the knock-out phase. The U.S. victories both came under current Coach Bruce Arena in 1999. One was in a friendly match in Florida (3-0 in Jacksonville) and the other was in the FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico (2-0 in Guadalajara).

The two teams met in March in Rostock, Germany in a friendly match with the home team beating the USA, 4-2. But neither team was at full strength for that game.

The U.S. Soccer team has eight players on its squad who have played professionally in Germany, so they are quite familiar with the opposition. Defender Frankie Hejduk has played with the Bundesliga's Bayer Leverkusen for the past four seasons.

"I think Germany is always a strong soccer country. Nobody likes to play against them. They run a lot. They are very physical. They are good [at winning balls] in the air. And they have brought the same type of team here. And they are very hard to score goals against," Mr. Hejduk said.

That is the case in this World Cup, as the Germans have allowed only one goal in their four matches. And because of that, U.S. goalie Brad Friedel said the Americans must play excellent defense to have any chance to win.

"We are going to have to play mistake-free against Germany. There is no doubt about it. It is not an impossible task, but you know it will be difficult one," Mr. Friedel said.

U.S. team captain, midfielder Claudio Reyna, who played in Germany for five seasons, adds that the Germans are always mentally strong.

"They concentrate for 90 minutes, and in this tournament we have patterned ourselves after them a little bit in that way, and for the future, because Germany is the type of team that even when they do not play well, they can get results," Mr. Reyna said.

The U.S. Soccer team has already surpassed its goal of reaching the second round of this World Cup, but it is hoping for a good result in its quarterfinal against Germany.