The unfancied Stars and Stripes secured the runners-up spot in Group G despite losing 1-0 to a clinical Thomas Muller strike for Germany at the Arena PernambucoBy Luis Herrera in Recife
Jurgen Klinsmann hailed the "tremendous" step his USA players have taken by qualifying for the World Cup round of 16 despite losing 1-0 to Group G winners Germany on Thursday.
A clinical strike from Thomas Muller on 55 minutes proved the difference between the two teams but USA still advanced in second place courtesy of a superior goal difference over Portugal, who defeated Ghana 2-1 in Brasilia.
After the match, Klinsmann confessed that he wanted more bravery from his players in the opening stages of the match, but insisted he could not have asked for more over the three group matches.
"It’s a huge achievement to come through this group and qualify," he told reporters. "We knew it was going to be a very tricky game in a situation where a draw would see us both qualify.
"It wasn’t easy to handle it mentally. We had a bit too much respect [for Germany] in the first 20 minutes and then the nerves settled and we got better. It’s tremendous for the team.
"We have a very strong team and players who are so hungry to do well.
"Their effort and commitment was outstanding. I wish we’d created more chances and found ways to take it to Germany, but overall it’s a fantastic achievement from all the guys.
"All the teams qualifying for a World Cup are strong but this was the strongest group.
"Germany are among the top four or five favourites to win this title. We’re learning and growing with every game. We will go into the round of 16 and we’ll analyse this game and take it to our next opponent."