MANAUS, Brazil (AP) — American players still were showering off the sweat from the steamy Amazon night when the first questions about a possible conspiracy were asked: Would the United States and Germany try to play to a tie Thursday that would guarantee World Cup advancement to both nations?
Following Portugal's 95th-minute goal in a 2-2 draw Sunday, the Americans and Germany both have four points. Portugal and Ghana have one apiece.
A draw on Thursday in Recife would clinch first place in Group G for the Germans, who have a superior goal difference, and second for the U.S.
Portugal and Ghana, who play simultaneously in Brasilia, would be eliminated.
Add in that U.S coach Jurgen Klinsmann helped West Germany win its third World Cup title in 1990. And that he coached Germany to third place in the 2006 tournament. And that his top assistant then was Joachim Loew, who is now their homeland's coach.
It's more than enough to send the suspicious into overdrive.
"I don't think that we are made for draws, really, except if it happens like tonight — two late goals, last seconds," Klinsmann said. "I think both teams go into this game and they want to win the group."
Portugal went ahead when Geoff Cameron's wayward clearance gifted Nani a fifth-minute goal, but Jermaine Jones scored in the 64th and Clint Dempsey in the 81st to build a 2-1 lead for the U.S. Then Varela scored on a diving header off a cross from two-time world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo with 30 seconds left in five minutes of stoppage time.
Now the U.S. may need a point against Germany to advance. The Americans could clinch with a loss, depending on the result of the Portugal-Ghana game.
U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said deliberately playing for a tie is inconceivable.
"It's not what this team is about, not what this coach is about and it's not what Germany is like," he said.
Some thought back to the 1982 World Cup in Spain, where West Germany opened with a 2-1 loss to Algeria and beat Chile 4-1. Austria defeated Algeria 2-0, then defeated Chile 1-0 on June 24.
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