Germany Beats U.S. 1-0 at World Cup

Friday, June 21st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ULSAN, South Korea (AP) _ The best United States soccer team in 72 years finally met its match.

After rousing fans back home to get up in the middle of the night to watch their inspired play, the Americans lost to Germany 1-0 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, although they outplayed their taller, stronger opponents for much of the night.

Unlike four years ago, when Germany manhandled the Americans during a 2-0 first-round victory in Paris, the U.S. players shoved back.

The United States dominated for much of the first half and had numerous scoring chances, but German midfielder Michael Ballack scored on a header in the 39th minute, rising between two American defenders.

German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn twice came up with diving saves in the first half to deny Landon Donovan, and the Americans nearly tied the score four minutes into the second half.

A shot by Eddie Lewis bounced off Kahn and hit the left hand of defender Torsten Frings, who was standing on the goal line. The ball almost crossed the line before bouncing back to Kahn, who smothered it.

Scottish referee Hugh Dallas didn't call a penalty, awarding Germany a goal kick.

Then, with only minutes left in the game, the United States had another great chance, but defender Tony Sanneh just missed a goal on a header. He hit the side of the net off a cross from Clint Mathis, who had entered early in the second half.

Moments later, Mathis' hard shot in the penalty box was blocked by German midfielder Jens Jeremies as the Americans tried desperately to score the tying goal.

At the end of the game, half a dozen players from each team collapsed to the ground, exhausted.

The fans gave the Americans a standing ovation, and captain Claudio Reyna held up a U.S. flag, saluting the crowd to cheers of ``U-S-A! U-S-A!''

``We can go home with our heads held high,'' U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel said.

The fast-paced game also featured a lot of physical play, with hard tackles from both teams.

Reyna even got some payback on Jeremies, who kneed him in the back early in that World Cup game four years ago.

Jeremies entered as a substitute in the 60th minute, and eight minutes later he and Reyna pushed each other as the Americans prepared to take a free kick near the German goal. Both tumbled and Reyna stomped on Jeremies' left leg as they got up, earning a yellow card.

Despite the loss, it was a stellar showing for an American team that many thought would struggle just to get out of its first-round group four years after it finished last in the 32-nation field.

This World Cup started better right away for the Americans. They opened with a 3-2 win over heavily favored Portugal, then tied 1-1 against South Korea _ which hasn't lost yet. While they lost 3-1 to Poland, they backed into the second round and upset Mexico 2-0.

But instead of the Americans advancing to the semifinals for the first time since the first World Cup in 1930, the Germans will go there for the 10th time _ their first since winning their last championship in 1990.

Germany will play the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal between Spain and South Korea.

Before Germany scored, the Americans dominated the three-time champions, outshooting them 5-1.

Germany twice had open headers but couldn't connect. And four minutes after the Germans took the lead, they nearly got another goal when Miroslav Klose hit the post off a cross from Oliver Neuville.

The goal came after Lewis fouled Torsten Frings about 25 yards out on the right side. Christian Ziege crossed the ball and Ballack got between Tony Sanneh and Gregg Berhalter, outjumped them and headed the ball past a diving Friedel.

Donovan had the best U.S. scoring chance in the 17th minute, going around Thomas Linke and sending a low shot that Kahn, one of the world's top goalies, deflected wide with his fingertips.

Kahn stopped Donovan again in the 30th minute, getting his right hand on a shot by the 20-year forward, who was isolated 1-on-1.

Neuville had the most artistic shot of the first half, a bicycle kick from the middle of the penalty area _ and it bounced right off the head of Lewis, who was only a few yards away.

Lewis had a good shot from the center in the 36th minute, but Kahn again came up with the save.

The Germans were a 5-1 favorite coming in, and had 51 World Cup victories to the Americans' six. The United States has never won a World Cup game in which it trailed.

In a sign of increased interest in the United States, ABC's ``Good Morning America'' cut live to parts of the first half. It was the first live English-language network coverage of the tournament in the United States, which previously had this year's World Cup only on ESPN, ESPN2 and Spanish-language Univision.

More than 4,000 fans got up at dawn and filled six sections at Washington's RFK Stadium to watch the game on a big screen. The Columbus Crew also opened their stadium at dawn for fans to watch, and they had about 5,000 fans for the 7:30 a.m. EDT start.