It wasn't pretty for the United States. In fact, it was downright ugly. But the United States are headed to the knockout phase of the World Cup nonetheless, as their 1-0 loss to Germany was negated by Portugal's 2-1 win over Ghana.
With that result, the United States finished in second place in Group G based on goal differential. Probably not the way they had envisioned advancing coming into the day, but they'll certainly take it.
Coming into this tournament, the leaders and key players have been Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. While neither was particularly on their game against Germany, let's take a look back at how Twitter reacted to their performances.
Truth be told, Dempsey was invisible for much of the afternoon, as the United States struggled to maintain possession and rarely were able to pose much of a threat in the attack. That obviously affected him, as Kelly Whiteside of USA Today pointed out:
Not a good sign. A frustrated Dempsey, words with Jones— Kelly Whiteside (@KellyWhiteside) June 26, 2014
Really, the most noticeable thing from Dempsey on the day may have been his appearance. Let's keep it real—he's gotten beaten up in this tournament.
Ives Galarcep of Goal.com noticed:
By my count there are at least three players with black eyes. Dempsey, Johnson and Mueller. Not from this game, but still. #ContactSport— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) June 26, 2014
So too did Dave Zirin of The Nation:
Clint Dempsey is starting to look like Rudy T after the Kermit Washington punch.— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) June 26, 2014
It wasn't his best game. But his two goals in this tournament are a huge reason why the United States have advanced, so we can all forgive him for one tame performance.
For much of this tournament, Bradley has had a pretty rough go of it. He's turned the ball over an uncharacteristic amount, his passes haven't generally seemed as crisp as we've seen in the past and he hasn't provided the United States with the spark going forward that has made him such a vital part of the squad.
As you might imagine, Twitter noticed Bradley's game was off.
There was this, from Sam Tighe of Bleacher Report:
Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star was sarcastically pleased with the amount of attention Bradley has gotten:
Glad to see Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley getting so much attention at the World Cu- oh. Oh dear.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) June 26, 2014
Juan Arango of The Telegraph was surprised by Bradley's performance in the tournament:
Wow, I haven't seen Bradley so out of sync in a series of matches.— Juan Arango (@JuanG_Arango) June 26, 2014
Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated wasn't quite so kind:
Has anyone called Michael Bradley "scrappy" yet? Or are we all just using the silent "S"?— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) June 26, 2014
There are plenty of reasons why Bradley might have struggled. The heat, perhaps. The pressure of being the main man. Simply being in a slight funk, which can happen.
But Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports has a different theory:
Yeah, staying in Europe couldn't possibly have helped Michael Bradley continue to grow.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) June 26, 2014
It's hard to argue with that theory. The truth is, players like Bradley and Dempsey faced a higher level of play in Europe, and leaving to come back to the MLS before this World Cup was a decision that some folks questioned. While Dempsey has actually appeared to really regain his form in the past year, Bradley's play in this World Cup has been disappointing.
But no matter, because the United States are going through, likely to face Belgium. If that is indeed the matchup, it won't be easy. Remember, Belgium hammered the United States in a friendly back in May of 2013, 4-2.
Of course, using friendlies to judge how a World Cup matchup might go is folly. A lot has changed since then. (Christian Benteke isn't available for Belgium, for starters.) And the United States has played quite well since then, the result against Germany aside.
But if they are to beat Belgium and advance to the quarterfinals, both Bradley and Dempsey will need to play better. Both have shown they are capable of doing so. The Group of Death is behind them.
Now, it's all about staying alive.