Jurgen Klinsmann got the second goal for the Germans as they eased by the overmatched and misfiring U.S. 2-0.
Sixteen years later, Germany and the US meet again in the World Cup in Recife, Brazil, with a whole lot more than places in the knockout stages and atop Group G in play.
Germany and the USA’s historically difficult relationship off the field makes their close connections on the field so fascinating. Of course, Klinsmann is now the US manager, and he’s selected a team flush with influential German-American players, including 2014 standouts John Anthony Brooks, Fabian Johnson, and Jermaine Jones.
Klinsmann’s side has even derisively been referred to as “The German B-Team.” And there’s more: The current manager of Germany, Jogi Low, was Klinsmann’s assistant when the pair led Germany in wildly successful fashion when they hosted the 2006 World Cup.
Although the pair remain close friends, Low was always seen as the man wearing the pants in their professional relationship. In their Euro 2008 preview, Four Four Two wrote that “Low by and large ran the team at the World Cup, with Klinsmann more of a spiritual leader than a true coach.”
If Klinsmann, a German soccer hero, can beat his native country and his protégé with an underdog side, no one back home will question his managerial nous ever again. It’s not personal, but Klinsmann wouldn’t mind winning this one – just as he did when the US beat the real German B-team last summer at RFK Stadium.
For US Soccer, this match also provides a chance to exact revenge for Germany knocking the US out of the 2002 World Cup in the quarterfinals.
In what is regarded by many as the best match the US has played in the modern era, they dominated the game and were denied only by a missed handball call on the line that would have given them a penalty and man-advantage. They lost 1-0 on a Michael Ballack header, and Germany went on to reach the finals.
A draw in this game – no matter what happens between Portugal and Ghana – is enough to send both of these teams through. Germany would win the group on goal differential, the United States finishing in second.
That’s the easy way – and don’t be surprised if things coincidentally wind down towards the end of the match and finish all square, but with the US involved, nothing ever comes easy. Silvestre Varela’s 95th minute goal is still stinging.
This is it: One of the most anticipated match-ups of the World Cup group stage. Here are the key match-ups.
Thomas Muller v. Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler – Muller is as tricky and wily as they come. Not necessarily in the mold of a center forward, Muller gets his goals through grit and craft. He’s an exceptionally smart soccer player.