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Powerful Germans up next for Americans

Associated Press

ENSCHEDE, Netherlands – Freddy Adu’s missed penalty kick against Argentina was just about the only mistake the United States made in its astonishing victory over the four-time champs at the FIFA World Youth Championship.

The U.S. under-20 team might have to play even better if it wants to upset soccer powerhouse Germany today, especially with star defender Jonathan Spector uncertain because of a thigh injury.

A tie against the Germans would put the U.S. team in prime position for a second-round berth out of Group D and a victory would guarantee one. After his team’s 1-0 win against Argentina, U.S. coach Sigi Schmid saw no reason to hold back.

“It is tough for our team to say, ‘Let’s just go out there and play for a tie,’ ” Schmid said. “Our mentality, just the American culture, is that every time you step on the field you play to win.”

Spector, a Manchester United defender from Arlington Heights, Ill., was injured in the 38th minute, just before Chad Barrett gave the United States the lead. If Spector can’t play, Nathan Sturgis would probably start.

“For the Germany game, it is probably 50-50,” Schmid said. “We are going to weigh how he is – the benefits of playing him now.”

Spector would be a huge boon for the U.S. defense, which will work to contain the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Michael Delura, Germany’s top player. Germany beat Egypt 2-0 in its first Group D match, but lost midfielder Oliver Hampel for the tournament with a broken leg.

“They got some size, they got power, they are good in the air. We have to make sure we basically all neutralize that,” Schmid said.

In other matchups between first-place teams, China will face Ukraine in Group B and Chile will play Spain in Group C.

Argentina will try to bounce back against Egypt. Standout star Lionel Messi of Barcelona is expected to start after he was benched for the first half against the United States.

“I am in good condition to play 90 minutes of any match, although I have to respect the decisions of the trainer,” Messi said.

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