Discover more from The Blazing Musket
Defensive Lapses Doom USA to 3-1 Defeat Against Germany
The USMNT has a lot of work to do on the road to the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
While just a friendly, the United States Men’s National Team faced a major test as they squared off against Germany in Hartford, Connecticut.
Germany hasn’t exactly been the giant of Europe that the global football world is used to seeing. With some disappointing losses as of late that spurned a head coaching change, the European nation is looking to get back in the right direction with Julian Nagelsmann now at the helm.
Now just because they have struggled doesn’t mean that Germany has seen a dip in talent. Veterans Thomas Mueller and Mats Hummels provide some experience for a squad that also features the likes of Leroy Sane, Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala, Leon Goretzka, and Antonio Rudiger.
The Blazing Musket is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter deployed a strong starting XI with former New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner starting in net. Sergino Dest, Chris Richards, Tim Ream, and Joe Scally comprising the back line with Yunus Musah, Gio Reyna, and Weston McKennie making up the midfield.
Up top was the three-headed monster of captain Christian Pulisic, Folarin Balogun, and Tim Weah. The start was Reyna’s first appearance with the USMNT since June 18th.
The Germans boasted an equally impressive starting XI with FC Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegan behind a back line of Rudiger, Jonathan Tah, Hummels, and Robin Gosens. Florian Wirtz, Musiala, Pascal Groß and captain Ilkay Gundogan made up the midfield with Niclas Fullkrug playing up top with Sane.
While the lineup might have been displayed as a 4-3-3, it played more like a 4-3-2-1 with Musah and McKennie sitting back while Reyna played as a No. 10 with Balogun as the lone striker.
It was a nervy start to the game for the USMNT as Turner nearly turned the ball over playing out of the back. Combined with consistent pressure from the Germans, it was clear this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for the U.S.
Nagelsmann and Co. looked like a side looking to prove a point. Their constant pressing showed that they wern’t treating this match as a friendly, they wanted to win.
The German nearly struck in the 10th minute with a shot from Groß getting past Turner and rocketing off the post. The U.S. on the other hand struggled to create any dangerous chances early on.
Turner made up for his early errors with a big save in the 21st minute. While Fullkrug’s shot was directed right at the goalkeeper, there was a whole heap of pace behind it. The former Revolution goalkeeper came with another big save in the 26th minute.
The breakthrough would finally come for the Stars and Stripes in the 27th minute as Pulisic put the USMNT up 1-0 after blasting a shot past the Barca goalkeeper. The captain drove towards the middle of the box from the left flank, blowing by Tah and putting Rudiger on skates to open up a window for a shot.
The goal was made even sweeter as moments prior Pulisic went down in the box after he felt the German goalkeeper made contact with him. Ter Stegen gestured toward the USMNT captain telling him to get off the pitch. It is safe to say that Pulisic got the last laugh.
But the Germans would strike back in the 38th minute as a break down in defense saw Gundogan bring the match level. Sane drew Turner out of his net and while the Bayern star wasn’t able to slot it home, the Barcelona midfielder cleaned up the leftovers.
The Germans nearly struck in stoppage time but some amazing defending from McKennie kept the score even after the first 45 minutes. Prior to the start of the second half, Berhalter would replace Reyna with Luca de la Torre.
In his first USMNT match since the fallout from the 2022 World Cup, Reyna had a solid performance. He is clearly still building fitness but managed to complete 21 of his 22 passes while recording 28 touches and three passes into the final third.
Turner would be tested early in the second half as he made another save in the 36th minute. The former Revolution goalkeeper would come up big again for the USMNT in the 52nd minute parrying a Sane shot away from goal.
But Turner was once again left hanging by his back line as another lapse in judgment from his back line saw Fullkrug get a one-on-one opportunity and the Borussia Dortmund striker didn’t let the chance go to waste in the 58th minute. Musiala would put salt in the wound as he found the back of the net a couple of minutes later.
It was a terrible night all around for the defensive unit but Sergino Dest particularly stood out. He failed to get involved in the match and his defending left a lot to be desired. The PSV outside back also kept Fullkrug onside on Germany’s second goal.
Berhalter clearly saw that a change was needed as Cameron Carter-Vickers, Ricardo Pepi, and Brenden Aaronson came on for Richards, Balogun, and Weah in the 66th minute. The subs continued as Johnny Cardoso and Kevin Paredes replaced Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic.
The loss will likely disappoint USMNT fans as this isn’t the strongest German National Team. The Stars and Stripes started the match strong but lost all momentum in the second stanza. Germany was in complete control and Berhalter’s side could do nothing to stop their opponents.
In the final third, the Stars and Stripes looked too timid at times. They were looking for the perfect opportunity and unsurprisingly that never came.
With a match on the horizon against Ghana, the U.S. will be looking to put this poor performance behind them and hopefully secure a win on Tuesday.