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100 Words or Less

12 Quick Takes: How Should The U.S. Play Germany?

We asked a dozen soccer pundits to give their best strategic advice ahead of today's decisive United States - Germany clash. And we told them to provide it in 100 words or less. Here's what they had to say.
BY various Posted
June 26, 2014
9:36 AM
John Godfrey, ASN editor in chief
Given the monsoon-like conditions in Recife this morning, the Americans will be tempted to play it very safe. But as long as Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and Kyle Beckerman are in the lineup—and they will be—the U.S. can play the first half as if it has no idea that a tie does the trick. Push down the right flank and look for a goal. Pressure the ball in midfield. Defend in numbers, as before. Everything changes at the 70-minute mark, however, where game management becomes the focus.

Brooke Tunstall, freelance soccer writer
The U.S. has to stay compact and organized defensively. Keep the middle clogged and at the same time pressure the flanks so the Germany wings don’t have plenty of time. The American forwards will have to some of the dirty work here. And obviously no sloppy turnovers. This doesn’t mean pack it in for 90. Offensively, Germany is vulnerable to pace wide so another DeAndre Yedlin appearance or perhaps Timmy Chandler or – gasp !- maybe even Julian Green could make a difference. Don’t attack with abandon, don’t forget to attack.

Brian Sciaretta, ASN contributing editor
This is a tricky game for the United States. Obviously a draw sees the team through but Germany will easily break through a bunker. Still, the U.S. should approach the game conservatively—never leaving the backline exposed while trying to conserve energy. Klinsmann has not had a lot of turnover among his players as Bradley, Jones, Beckerman, and Bedoya are likely exhausted after playing most of the last two games and with the last one only three days ago in Manaus. The first half will be key. If the U.S. can remain level midway into the 2nd half, it might escape.

Noah Davis, ASN contributing editor
The United States should approach Thursday afternoon's match against Germany like it has approached every other match in the 2014 World Cup. Nothing has changed. They need a result to advance, so they should go out and get one. Playing for a tie doesn't help anything... until there are 15 minutes left and then it's essential. Stay together, stay compact, stay focused, and get at least a point. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Michael Lewis, Newsday, Big Apple Soccer
The USA should not change its game against Germany. It should go out and attack. When you start playing for a tie right after kickoff, bad things can happen to your team. If the game is still tied in the 83rd minute, then that's another matter because the finish line is so close.

Kim Tate, soccer writer
Stating the obvious here: this one will require more cohesion in the back, especially between Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler. USA will pay against the likes of Mario Gotze, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, and Mesut Ozil. If the commits the same mistakes (I'm looking at you, Geoff) as it did in the back against Portugal, it's trouble. When attacking, dismantle any symmetry (or further exploit lackthereof) between Philip Lahm and Sami Khedira in midfield, break (or cross) left, and expose Germany's weaknesses on that side. Do it over and over again, and USA should finish with a favorable result.

Ben Jata, Opta analyst
As much as I'd like to see the same lineup we put out vs. Portugal, I really think Klinsmann needs to get some fresh legs out on the field, especially when you consider how difficult it's been for teams to rebound after playing in Manaus. Line up in a 4-4-1-1 with Wondo up top, Davis in for Bedoya and maybe one other experienced player in for Zusi or someone else. Defensively, the U.S. needs to clog up the middle and push Germany to the outside. Continue playing great team defense and we'll get the result we need to move on.

Charles Boehm, freelance soccer writer
Brave, bold, but no bravado, please. That's my (unsolicited) advice for Jurgen Klinsmann and co. as they face up to mighty Germany in yet another muggy tropical locale on Thursday. This game is about as tricky as it gets when it comes to lineup, tactics, and game management—not quite a must-win or a must-not-lose, with goal differential floating in the background, against world champion opponents. And your team is on short rest after a draining, emotional match. Mix a few fresh legs into the 11. Attack the German fullbacks. Treasure possession. And try not to panic.

Josh Deaver, ASN contributor
As U.S. supporters are obsessing over the permutations and the litany of probability charts showing the chances for advancement against the mighty Germans on Thursday, the task for the Yanks remains a simple one: keep it close and hope Cristiano & Co. are in slightly-less-than-full-on redemption mode against Ghana. It might seem reductive seeing as the Americans were only seconds away from clinching a spot in the final 16, but now they must survive to fight another day. It’s time to see if an uber-pragmatic Klinsmann can deliver when it matters most on what’s sure to be a breathless final day of Group Play. Just remember to breathe.

J. Pat Miller, WTMJ-AM, WLWK (FM)
This is Jurgen’s chance to show off to his home country. It’s only natural; don’t you want to show up your old employer or ex-girlfriend? I think the U.S. should bunker and counterattack and pray for a clean, easy tie. But I’m afraid that Jurgen won’t be able to help himself from trying to win the game straight up. Beating Germany must be his dream scenario but I’m not sure if the U.S. could actually win the game without making a loss more likely. Bottom line: Hope for a 2-1 Portugal result.

Matt Swift, ASN social media director
Bench Bradley? Get real. Against Germany, the U.S. will need his distribution, leadership, and grit. I would like to see a 4-3-2-1 formation with Dempsey up top, Zusi and Bradley underneath, Jones on the left, Beckerman in the middle, and Yedlin on the right this time. If the U.S. plays tidy in the back, chooses its moments to counter, and gets forward quickly, the Yanks have a real opportunity to come out of this sitting atop of the Group of Death. My bold prediction: a historic 1-0 U.S. victory—I feel it in my bones.

John D. Halloran, Bleacher Report, ASN
It's tempting to approach the match with Germany hoping to play for a 0-0 draw, but it's a dangerous strategy. If the U.S. is too conservative, they will only be one slip up (and a Ghanaian win over Portugal) away from being knocked out of the tournament altogether. Klinsmann needs to use the same pragmatism he employed against Nigeria, Ghana, and Portugal—namely, clogging the midfield and carefully picking the right moments to counter. This approach will contain the dangerous German attack, allow the U.S. to find chances of its own, and put the Americans into the next round.

OK, your turn. What would you do if you ran the zoo? In 100 words or less, please.

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