USMNT defeat World Cup champs Germany behind Wood’s stunner

COLOGNE, Germany —  

Mario Gotze handed the Germans an early lead with his goal inside the first 15 minutes, but the Americans settled down and eventually summoned a reply when Mix Diskerud collected Michael Bradley’s sublime diagonal and tucked home four minutes before halftime.

The goal shifted the cadence of the game in favor of the visitors after the break. Chance after chance fell by the wayside as the U.S. exerted control over the game, but Wood popped up in the dying moments to thrash inside the near post to complete a deserved victory and send the Americans home with a second consecutive victory over top-five opposition.

The early stages showcased this overhauled German side at its finest with a flurry of combination play and movement designed to unsettle the Americans from the opening whistle.

Most of the scouting from the American victory in the Netherlands paid off as the Germans located the weak spots with incisive work. Herrmann drove forward down the right and picked out Gotze at the back post as the Americans struggled to shift from one side to the other. Gotez laid off neatly for Ozil, but Ozil’s tame shot curled straight at Guzan.

It stood as a considerable reprieve, but the U.S. succumbed shortly thereafter courtesy of reticent defending. Herrmann eluded the attentions of Diskerud and found ample time and space on the edge of the penalty area with no defender willing to close him down. Gotze drifted away from the sleepy Timothy Chandler at the far post and turned home from close range to give the Germans a deserved lead.

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Guzan prevented the Germans from doubling their advantage shortly after the half-hour as the Americans were pulled apart once more. Quick and tidy passing eventually left the defense to scramble and supplied Gotze with the opportunity to drift in behind. Gotze corralled well, but Guzan rushed out with a meaningful block to thwart the opportunity.

All of the early menace frittered away as the Germans focused more on possession and the Americans started to find their footing as halftime approached. They increasingly focused their efforts up the right with the rickety Jonas Hector flailing when asked to cope with movement in the space in front of him.

The efforts intensified with space starting to open on the counter. Fabian Johnson pushed forward on the left to provide width, but he hit his square pass too heavily to meet Bradley’s perfectly timed run through the middle. Chandler then squandered a neatly constructed move with a poor cross with several runners crashing through the middle.

Everything came together to secure a precious equalizer four minutes before the break. This move stemmed from protracted and tidy work in possession that allowed Bradley to drift into that inviting space in front of Hector. Bradley clipped a diagonal toward the back post to expose the Germans and locate Diskerud’s clever run. Diskerud managed to settle with his first touch before chopping home to equalizer to send the Americans into halftime on level pegging.

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The riposte before the interval and the timely arrivals of Kyle Beckerman, Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin prompted a bright start to the second half. The halftime changes and the increased confidence allowed the Americans to assert dominion for much of the second half as the Germans struggled for their response.

Now the combination play and the incisiveness belonged to the Americans as they carved their way through midfield. Johannsson and Diskerud combined well to compose a glorious move through midfield to play Gyasi Zardes in behind, but Zardes’ pleas for a penalty after he tumbled inside the area were waved away by the referee.

Zardes and Ventura Alvarado saw two of their attempts blocked from close range as the Americans exercised control over the game. Germany attempted to locate the desire and the rhythm once again, but they could only threaten intermittently against a more compact American shape after the interval.

Sami Khedira wasted the best German chance when he could not complete his fine header with the appropriate header at the near post, but it proved a rare meaningful foray for the hosts.

As the final half-hour progressed, the American pressure built. Second-half substitute Jordan Morris curled just wide with an audacious attempt with the outside of his right foot, while Bradley watched Ron-Robert Zieler produce a stunning kick save on Bradley with seven minutes remaining.

Wood eventually gave the Americans a deserved winner three minutes from time. Evans pushed into the attacking half and supplied Wood with a telling pass on the edge of the penalty area. Wood collected neatly and then smashed his low effort inside the far post to complete this perfect trip to Europe and secure a second major victory inside a week.