The debate on which Group is the most deadly will finally to be decided on the pitch. Lead contestant for the so-called “Group of Death” are Group G with the US pitted against Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. Germany owns three titles and was ranked 2nd, Portugal 4th, US 13th, and Ghana 37th. The US has a poor record against Ghana in Cup competition, so their first round match was a real test of where they stood on the world stage and it was a “must-win” if they were to have any chance of advancing out of their group. Germany and Portugal figured to be the top two to advance, but Germany was dominant in their 4-0 victory and Portugal limped off with a damaged psyche and diminished lineup as they prepared to face the US in a crucial match following the US teams gutty 2-1 win over Ghana. Thus, Group G’s standing as the Group of Death took a step back with Portugal’s complete breakdown against Germany, and the US chances improved at their expense. Germany – if Portugal presented any test – appears headed to the semifinals with Thomas Muller at the forefront of their attack.
The US victory was remarkable, but the sloppy play between their two goals was overshadowed by the thin experience of their strikers with the loss of Jozy Altidore to a hamstring injury. Landon Donovan surely received a thousand messages indicating he should have made the squad as insurance, and now the US must face Portugal and Germany with untested forwards alongside the broken-nosed Clint Dempsey. If not for Portugal’s disarray, I would think the US had no chance for even a point. But they must demonstrate better possession in order to truly be considered as a quarter-finalist threat. Michael Bradley’s erratic performance did not impress me, though netminder Tim Howard, MF Jermaine Jones, and F Clint Dempsey were stellar. Newcomer D John Brooks’ golden header off of MF Graham Zusi’s corner give me reason to believe this team has enough depth to overcome their lack of style, but Altidore’s absence places incredible weight on F Aron Johansson to be more than a spectator on the field.
The winner of Group G draws 2H (Likely South Korea or Russia), with the runner-up likely drawing a dangerous Belgian side. More to follow after Brazil – Mexico.