The United States picked up their fourth point in two games at the FIFA World Youth Championships in Holland on Tuesday with a scoreless draw against Germany. The result leaves the U.S. in a good position to advance to the knockout stages, a win or draw against Egypt in their final group match likely to be enough to move on through a difficult group.
The USA looked sharp and dangerous in the first 45 minutes on Tuesday, but a bit shaky and uninspired in the second half. The young U.S. side failed to capitalize on several chances at the end of the first stanza and were probably content with a point after their disappointing second-half performance.
D.C. United star Freddy Adu handled the majority of U.S. dead-ball opportunities in the offensive third and his swerving left-footed crosses caused problems for the Germans. One such effort at the half-hour mark flew through the danger area and just over the head of Sammy Ochoa. MetroStars midfielder Eddie Gaven also tried to provide the final touch but the ball was just out of his reach.
The U.S. back four kept the Europeans at bay throughout the early stages, leaving little for goalkeeper Quentin Westberg to deal with. Michael Delura was the first to test the Troyes FC (France) professional, but his long-range shot was easily swallowed up.
Sigi Schmid's side pushed hard for a goal at the tail end of the first half and were unlucky not get one. Adu and Gaven were dominating going forward, connecting well to produce chances. Gaven had two clear looks at goal in the waning moments of the half.
On the first he was put in on goal after a clever through ball from Adu. Entering the box, the New Jersey native blasted a shot that was saved by the goalkeeper and Gaven continued his run in an effort to pound home the rebound. He appeared to have been brought down by a defender, but the referee judged the tackle to be fair and signaled only for a corner kick. Gaven went close again on the ensuing play, but his turning volley was saved well by Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler.
Adu then had the final chance to end the deadlock before the break following a short free kick that set him up for a left-footed shot, but the Germans were saved by Marcel Schuon's sliding block and the half ended scoreless. Midfielder Benny Feilhaber saw his first shot of the second half blocked out for a corner kick before connecting to a chipped pass from Adu and volleying just wide.
Schmid made his first substitution of the game in the 62nd minute, inserting Jacob Peterson for Ochoa in a straightforward swap up top. Germany countered with a move of their own, sending Sahr Senesie on for Nicky Adler. Germany's switch nearly paid off shortly thereafter, but the Sierra Leone-born striker couldn't quite catch up to a through ball.
Germany almost found a way past the U.S. defense inside the final 10 minutes. Westberg was scrambling during a wild sequence inside the box as a high ball inside the goal area was bobbled and then only partially cleared before finally being hooked out to safety. In the end, neither side was able to make a breakthrough and each picked up one point to put each in good position going into their final group matches.
The U.S. will play their final game in Group D against Egypt on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET (live on Fox Soccer Channel and Galavision), while Germany will square off with Argentina, who defeated Egypt 2-0 on Tuesday. The top two teams from each group receive automatic berths to the round of 16, while the top four third-place teams out in the six groups also receive passage.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.