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World Cup analysis: USMNT grades after 1-0 loss to Germany

Published June 26, 2014 6:35 pm

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The Americans stared death in the face and live on to laugh about it. Whether through celebration, heartbreak or sheer survival skills, the United States men's national team booked its ticket out of the "Group of Death" Thursday morning in rain-soaked Recife in Brazil.

The 1-0 loss to powerhouse Germany wasn't the most impressive performance turned out by the USMNT, but keeping the damage limited was what really mattered. With Ghana able to knock the U.S. out with a win over Portugal coinciding with a U.S. loss to Germany, outlooks were hairy when Ghana tied Portugal early in the second half.

Cristiano Ronaldo took care of the Americans with his 80th-minute strike that eventually put Ghana's dreams of advancing to sleep. For the second time in as many World Cup tournaments, the Americans move on to the knockout Round of 16. They'll face a supremely talented and young Belgium side, the winner of Group H, Tuesday in Salvador.

Player grades for the U.S.'s 1-0 loss to Germany:

Goalkeeper Tim Howard (7.5) • Came up with several timely saves and often kept the Germans out of the back of the net. Couldn't do much on Thomas Mueller's spectacular strike.

Defender DaMarcus Beasley (6) • Didn't have much help defensively from Brad Davis, but Beasley was able to turn back the clock and accelerate into the attack. He should look to continue that.

Defender Matt Besler (7.5) • In returning to partner with Omar Gonzalez as he did throughout World Cup Qualifiers, Besler was fantastic. He made timely steps to clear and was rarely beaten.

Defender Omar Gonzalez (7.5) • Klinsmann has made the right moves with his center back decisions. Gonzalez, who hadn't gone 90 minutes with the U.S. since April 19, was everywhere. Might've earned another start.

Defender Fabian Johnson (6) • Wasn't able to get as involved in the attack and drifted off of his mark too often against Germany. U.S. needs to get Johnson involved more in the next round.

Midfielder Kyle Beckerman (7) • Solid again. Same old, same old from RSL's captain. Was great in the first half, but drew a yellow card in the second half during a helter-skelter part of the match.

Midfielder Jermaine Jones (7.5) • America's best player in the group stage. Despite joining Dempsey in the broken nose club, Jones shifted all over and helped on both sides of the ball.

Midfielder Graham Zusi (5.5) • Again, didn't do much to impress. Had a decent rip in the first half that curled over the Germany bar, but his service wasn't great. Fared well defensively.

Midfielder Brad Davis (5) • Jurgen Klinsmann presumably wanted Davis for his set-piece abilities, but Germany rarely fouled the U.S. in dangerous spots. Was often a liability defensively.

Midfielder Michael Bradley (5) • Another head-scratching outing from the rock of the midfield. His touches were heavy, his passes were off and he seemed pressed.

Forward Clint Dempsey (6) • Was the lone ranger up top and rarely had any time to make things happen on the ball. Needs the return of a healthy Jozy Altidore in the worst way.

Substitutes/coaching:

Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya (6) • Active in the attack and defense after coming on for Davis. Bedoya seems more equipped for impact as a substitute.

Defender DeAndre Yedlin (5) • Didn't have much to do coming on late in the game, but clearly the regular outside back ahead of Julian Green on the wide-midfield depth chart.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (8) • Think of this: The U.S. advances with Jozy Altidore playing just 20 minutes in the "Group of Death." That's a phenomenal coaching job by Klinsmann, especially with a rotating cast of center backs. He's done what he was hired to do. Can Altidore return for Belgium? A Dempsey-Altidore duo up top could lead to big things.

ckamrani@sltrib.com

Twitter: @chriskamrani