Match Number: 719 Date: 21.06.2002 Location: Ulsan, Korea Competition: World Cup, Japan/Korea 2002 - Quarterfinals GERMANY: Kahn - Linke, Kehl, Metzelder - Frings, B. Schneider (60. Jeremies), Hamann, Ballack, Ziege - Klose (88. Bierhoff), Neuville (79. Bode) - Coach: Völler USA: Friedel - Hejduk (65. Jones), Sanneh, Pope, Berhalter - Reyna, O'Brien, Mastroeni (80. Stewart), Lewis - Donovan, McBride (58. Mathis)- Coach: Arena Scoring: 1:0 Ballack (39., assist Ziege) Referee: Hugh Dallas (Scotland) Yellow cards: Kehl, Neuville - Lewis, Pope, Reyna, Mastroeni, Berhalter Attendance: 30,000Germany barely scraped by a hustling USA squad, largely thanks to a brilliant performance by keeper Oliver Kahn. In what many felt would be a mismatch turned out to be a Zitterpartie for the DFB team, as they were forced to defend for most of the match.
Voeller's men had a couple of chances early on, but soon the US took over the initiative, pressing the Germans hard. It became apparent quite early that the tall Germans would be dominant in the air, but the Americans were quicker and had excellent ball distribution, especially through team captain Claudio Reyna.
Landon Donovan was particularily a thorn in the German side throughout most of the match, having a field day against the slow lumbering German defenders, especially Thomas Linke. On one ocassion he weaved his way through the defense before curving a perfect shot toward the corner. However, Kahn came up with a brilliant save as he tipped the ball with his fingertips around the post. A few minutes later Donovan again was waltzing through, but once again Kahn snuffed it by coming out to cut off the angle. Then it was Eddie Lewis, who blasted a point blank from about 15 meters that Kahn fisted out.
The Germans then scored against the run of play, off a nice set piece. The otherwise worthless Christian Ziege put in an inswinging free kick from the right side. Brad Friedel apparently crapped in his pants and didn't come out, and Michael Ballack rose above the crowd to head home from about 8 feet.
Ballack's goal started a 5 minute stretch of power-football in which the Germans used their air dominance to control the match. Only a couple of minutes later Klose was open, but his header was off the post. Certainly the Germans went into the half feeling the match was under control.
But as it turned out, the Americans opened the 2nd half with furious attacks that left the DFB squad reeling. Soon after the restart, a huge opportunity, as Lewis was open in the box and his shot was partially blocked by Kahn. The ball sprang up and it was Frings' arm that prevented it from going into the goal. However, referee Dallas ruled that it was unintentional, as Kahn smothered the rebound.
The high pace of the match forced both teams to bring on subs. And of course the entry of designated thug Jens Jeremies started off a five minute spree of about 5 yellow cards. He cleverly pulled an "Italian" by fallling to the ground writhing in pain as if he had been hit in the face with a sledgehammer. But he was successful, as he provoked Reyna into a yellow.
The US squad continued to press until the final whistle, and defender Tony Sanneh had a couple of golden opportunities to head in the equalizer. On both occasions Kahn was actually beaten, but the header was off target. The last one came with only seconds left, and Sanneh managed to only hit the outside of the net from about 5 feet. Maybe he should join Wuppertaler SV. Finally, it was with relief that the match came to an end.
Overall a match that exceeded expectations if you're a US fan. Although most Germans gave lip service to respecting their opponent, if Kahn hadn't come up big, they'd be on their way home. Aside from Kahn, Kehl in defense, Ballack in midfield and Neuville up front had decent performances. For the Americans, Reyna had another stellar performance, and Donovan caused major trouble, especially in the first half. The American defenders were quite decent, especially Sanneh, who won just about every duel.
The German approach to minimalist football is having some success, mainly due to the luck of the draw. The irony is that many years ago (when yours truly lived in Germany), this style and Italian playacting was universally derided in Germany. Now this is par for the course. (But at least the Germans fans don't whine and snivel about worldwide conspiracies when things don't go their way.) Voeller apparently believes that 5 minutes of good football and 90 minutes of Oliver Kahn will carry the day, and so far you can't argue with the results. Despite www.abseits-soccer.com pro-German bias, this will be hard to stomach if this is rewarded with the title.