WASHINGTON -- Germany manager Joachim Low brought a second-choice squad to the United States for a pair of friendlies on the heels of a long Bundesliga campaign, but even after a 4-3 loss to the U.S. national team that snapped Die Mannschaft's nine-game unbeaten run, Low maintained that it was a worthwhile trip across the Atlantic Ocean.
"I think it was worth it in all respects," Low said through a translator. "With main actors absent ... I think we've chosen the right squad for this trip. They were very motivated, very enthusiastic, and if you ask each and every one of them they will confirm that they learned an awful lot."
Germany defeated Ecuador in Boca Raton, Fla., 4-2 on Wednesday, with Lukas Podolski and Lars Bender each netting first-half braces. The script was flipped Sunday, with the USA blitzing Germany out of the gates and taking the attack to a makeshift back line, but that did not deter Low, who was getting a look at defenders a little deeper down his depth chart.
"As far as the German defense is concerned, I'm not worried about the performance of the two center backs," Low said. "You have to admit, we only had two to three training sessions in that constellation, whereas usually [Mats] Hummels and [Jerome] Boateng rule supreme in that line of four."
Low had to rotate his squad heavily against the Americans, with a number of players picking up minor knocks in the hot and humid D.C. conditions. He made four of his six allotted substitutions at halftime, including goal-scorers Max Kruse and Heiko Westermann.
"After the break we had to throw in some fresh players," Low said. "Marcel Jansen received a knock. The same was true for the two Benders [Lars and Sven]. Per Mertesacker has ankle problems, so it was obvious that sooner or later fresh players had to be thrown on the field."
Miroslav Klose linked up with the national team after the Ecuador loss, missing out on the friendly for a Coppa Italia triumph with Lazio, but he failed to score in his 80 minutes against the USA. That means that it will take at least one more cap for the forward, who U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann called "probably over the last 10 years the best consistent striker in the world," to tie and/or break Gerd Muller's Germany record of 68 international goals. Klose did have a goal waved off for offside in the 24th minute, and he managed to catch Low's eye with his play despite not scoring.
"As far as Klose is concerned, he received a big big like," Low said. "He created immediately a sense of urgency in our attack."
Low also maintained support for goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who had a howler of an own goal when failing to handle a back pass from Benedikt Howedes and was the subject of fan taunting every time he touched the ball after that.
"As far as the goalkeeper is concerned, it was extremely unfortunate that he made that mistake," Low said. "He's usually a very safe and secure keeper. I think he had some very good saves in the second half, so it would have been far too harsh, I didn't want to substitute him for another keeper."
In the end, Low's side split a pair of games, but he was able to get a greater understanding for his player pool and which players can augment the Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid standouts who usually make up the majority of the starting XI.
"The way we pulled 4-1 back to only 4-3 [against the USA], this was admirable," Low said. "Looking at the two games in unison, I think we've seen a very motivated German side.
"For me as a coach, it was worthwhile, because while I know these guys from the Bundesliga, you don't know how they are as human beings, so it was really good to socialize with them and get a feel for what makes them tick.
"Overall the situation is very good, promising, satisfying. This was a test match, and as the word says, test means trying out new stuff, checking out new players and maybe trying out some future oriented measures and a way for further development as far as individual players are concerned."