RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — Germany coach Joachim Loew isn’t sure his team’s extra day of rest this week makes up for the months-long scheduling advantage his friend, Jurgen Klinsmann, has had with the U.S. team.
On the eve of Germany’s last Group G match against the United States on Thursday, Loew expressed admiration for the relentless physical play the American squad has brought to its first two World Cup matches in hot, humid Brazil.
Loew also suggested the Major League Soccer schedule, which is shorter than those of European leagues and starts after the winter, helped Klinsmann get his team in exceptional physical condition for World Cup play in June.
“We have to be very well prepared, in physical terms,” to play the Americans, Loew said.
Both teams are coming off 2-2 draws. Germany was held by Ghana on Saturday, while the U.S. saw a victory slip away in the last-minute of injury time against Portugal the following night.
The U.S. has “this aggressiveness that we’ve seen in this tournament in their two games. They’re very well prepared. They’re very fit,” Loew said. “They might have had an advantage in that their league doesn’t last 11 months. Jurgen had his team in January and they were working together since then. This is an advantage. That’s why they’re at an excellent physical level.”
Loew’s assessment doesn’t necessarily apply across the U.S. squad. Of the 23 Americans Klinsmann brought to Brazil, 11 play in MLS. Most of the rest earn their living in Europe, in the same leagues as most German players. In addition, while Clint Dempsey plays for Seattle, he spent part of last winter on loan to Fulham in England.
Still, Loew sees the U.S. team’s fitness as one of its overall strengths.