The United States reached the World Cup quarterfinals at South Korea in 2002, their best performance on the world’s biggest stage (and the one that had many predicting Landon Donovan for international stardom). Both 2014 European group opponents, Germany and Portugal played crucial roles against the U.S. during that tournament.
Portugal set the tone. Bruce Arena’s Americans upset the Luis Figo-led team 3-2 in the first group match, scoring three times in the first 36 minutes and holding on. It remains among the biggest wins in U.S. Soccer history.
Germany ended it all. The Mannschaft defeated the U.S. 1-0 in the quarterfinals. The Americans arguably held the run of play, but were foiled by a masterful performance from eventual Golden Ball winner Oliver Kahn. Michael Ballack’s 39th minute header made the difference.
The U.S. will hope Klinsmann can inspire similar efforts against those two countries in Brazil. But with Germany having perhaps the best talent and depth of talent and Portugal featuring arguably the tournament’s best player, it won’t be easy.
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