World Cup Match Preview
German-American Storyline Permeates World Cup Clash
With so many U.S. players and coaches born and raised in Germany, Thursday's decisive World Cup match is bound to be an emotional event as well as a stirring contest. John Godfrey reports from Sao Paolo
BY John Godfrey PostedSAO PAOLO—The German-American flavor of Thursday's Group G clash between the U.S. and Die Mannschaft cannot be avoided—or understated. Five players in the U.S. national team were either born or raised in Germany. Two others, Michael Bradley and DaMarcus Beasley, have played professionally in the German Bundesliga. Even backup central defender Omar Gonzalez has a connection to the soccer-mad country, having gone on loan to Nuremberg in 2012. And then, of course, there's Jurgen Klinsmann. The 49-year-old native of Goppingen, West Germany, is married to an American former model, lives in Huntington Beach, Calif., and is a fascinating hybrid of the two cultures. Relentlessly sunny like so many SoCal residents, Klinsmann sprinkles his speech with American expressions—"bummer" is a favorite of his—but is also very Germanic in his focus and singlemindedness when it comes to the beautiful game. "It's going to be emotional, no doubt about it," Klinsmann said today at the U.S. national team's training complex here. "But I'm going to enjoy it." Klinsmann coached the German national team in 2006, leading the team to a third-place finish in that tournament. His assistant from that time, Joachim Low, is now running the German team, and players such as Bastian Schweinstager, Miroslav Klose, Phillipe Lahm, and Lukas Podolski are holdovers from the Klinsmann era. "I will give them big hugs before the game," Klinsmann said of his personal connections with Thursday's opponent. "But then we'll leave it aside." These days the U.S. coach is more focused on the tactics, not the friendships. "One of the strenths of the German side, always throughout the decades now, is consistency," Klinsmann said. "They have a very strong domestic league" that "develops a whole bunch of very good players, year in, year out." The Germans "find, always, ways to make it to the end of the tournament," the coach added, and good thing too. "Second place or third place doesn't really mean much with the fans or the people there." United States midfielder Jermaine Jones knows all about German fussball fans, and their high expectations. The 32-year-old Frankfurt native has played the bulk of his career in the German Bundesliga, and he made three appearances with the German national team before filing a one-time switch to represent the United States. With strong roots in both countries, Jones expects the playing of the two national anthems to be quite emotional. "I always say that I’m proud of both countries," Jones said. "I grew up in Germany. They give me a lot. There was my first step and I played there my first games... so I can’t say some bad stuff." German coach "Jogi Low he give me the chance to play for Germany and Germany is one of the biggest footall countries in the world," he continued. "It’s tough to play for this country but I have my games." Jones also has 44 games with the U.S. national team, and nobody who has watched the Americans' first two games of the 2014 World Cup will question his commitment to the team and desire to win. "I’m still proud too when I hear the anthem from the United States," he said. "I will close my eyes and let everything go through and then after I try to make the game." "Germany is a special game," he added. "I grow up in Germany. My mom is German, but I try to win and I try to bring America to the next round." Two games into the 2014 World Cup, Jones is the clear MVP for the United States national team—both on the field and off. A tremendously fit athlete who plays with an edge that gives opponents pause, Jones has also emerged as one of the go-to guys for interviews. Here are some of the highlights from Jones' interaction with the press on Tuesday.
June 24, 2014
June 24, 2014