By Jay Young
Today is a big day in the soccer world - really big.
It's even big for me, and I watch somewhere on the order of two complete soccer games per year.
It's difficult to think of analogy to demonstrate how important today's World Cup meeting with the United States is for Germany, but we can try to find one.
Here goes: For Germany, this game is like Yankees vs. Red Sox in the World Series, that is if the Series happened every four years and Joe Girardi was managing Boston.
The storyline building up to this game is so perfectly Hollywood that it makes you wonder if this wasn't all planned somehow. First, take the fact that Germany has won three Cups and has four runner-up finishes, more than any other country. The Germans are the second-ranked national team in the world, ahead of fearsome Brazil and trailing only to defending champions Spain (who have already been ousted). They have already shredded No. 4 Portugal with a 4-0 decision and picked up another point with a hard-fought draw against Ghana.
Today they meet the U.S. and their coach Jurgen Klinsmann in the final match of group play.
Even though elimination is not on the line and both teams have a good chance of moving on to the round of 16, this game is huge. More than anything, it will be about pride for the Germans, who are facing off against a man who has helped build their storied legacy on the soccer pitch.
Klinsmann is a national hero in Germany, both as a coach and a player. He is third on the all-time list for goals in international play with 47 and was named German footballer of the year in 1994. Before Klinsmann was appointed as coach of the United States in 2011, he managed Germany's national team from 2004-2006.
The truth of it is, there is no real analogy to this game in American sports. In America, people vary their interests and support between basketball, baseball, football, hockey and all the different college sports.
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But for Germany, like so many other countries around the world, soccer is the top tier and nothing else even comes close.Beating the United States today would be a huge statement for Germany, even if it doesn't send the Americans packing.
At the start of the World Cup, Klinsmann came under fire when he told the press that the U.S. wouldn't be taking home first place in Brazil. He was called uninspirational, defeatist and even stupid by his critics. But now it looks like he may have known exactly what he was doing. Entering today's game the U.S. is playing with house money after no one gave it a chance to make it out of play in "The Group of Death."
For Germany the game is the complete opposite. After drawing with Ghana, the mighty Germans are even in points with the U.S., a team whose own coach didn't give them a chance to win in Brazil.
On paper it would make sense for both teams to play out to a draw and take their chances in the next round, but there is far too much at stake for that to happen. Germany wants to assert itself as the best team left in the Cup while playing against its former coach, while Klinsmann and the U.S. want vindication on soccer's biggest stage.
Winning this game against his home country would be one of the greatest moments in Klinsmann's already legendary career, and a huge step forward for American soccer.