The USA will finally get their chance to overcome some demons when they take on Ghana on Monday, the final match of what is shaping up to be a great slate of fixtures to be played on Matchday 5.
Germany and Portugal will get the ball rolling (pun intended), and Iran and Nigeria will get American TV crowds ready for the Yanks' crucial 90 minutes against the Black Stars.
Most of the teams have already made their 2014 World Cup debut with varying degrees of success, but one thing fans can agree on is that this year's tournament has been one of the most spectacular editions yet. Incredible come-from-behind wins and high-scoring affairs have been the norm, and that could continue on Monday.
Here's the full schedule for Monday's set of fixtures, including TV and live stream info:
|Date||Match||Time (ET)||Time (BST)||TV Info|
|Mon, June 16||Group G: Germany v Portugal||12 p.m.||5 p.m.||ESPN/ITV|
|Mon, June 16||Group F: Iran v Nigeria||3 p.m.||8 p.m.||ESPN/BBC One|
|Mon, June 16||Group G: Ghana v United States||6 p.m.||11 p.m.||ESPN/ITV|
Germany v Portugal
The two favourites in Group G both have questions coming into this match, and they're centered around the health and form of some of their main stars.
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira have both been declared fit to start for Die Mannschaft, but neither will be at 100 percent. With Germany's ball-dominant approach to the game of football, having a strong presence in the centre of the pitch is vital.
The Germans' fate won't be sealed by the health of their central midfielders at this stage of the competition—they have too much talent for that. But getting off to a good start against Portugal is crucial, and if neither can really impose his will on the opponents, it could play a big role in the outcome of this fixture.
Portugal are a very talented team in their own right, but no matter how you spin it, this team will be successful because of one man—star winger Cristiano Ronaldo.
Against Mexico and Greece, Ronaldo was unavailable, and the Portuguese squad looked slow, uninspired and generally underwhelming. With Ronaldo and against Ireland, the team looked even better than the one that made the semi-finals of Euro 2012 just two years ago.
Ronaldo will be good to go against Germany, but following a difficult period because of injury, nobody knows how effective he will be. Going up against the very experienced Philipp Lahm, that could prove to be problematic for this Portugal team.
Iran v Nigeria
Most casual fans don't really know what to expect from an Iranian team lacking true star power, but there's a reason no Asian team (including Japan) is currently ranked higher than Carlos Queiroz's men—they can play.
Iran were one of the top defensive teams in all of football during qualifications and continued that trend preparing for the World Cup. Ashkan Dejagah broke out in a big way for Fulham last season (despite the club's relegation), and he will provide most of the danger playing in a wide position.
Crucial to the team's sterling defensive record is the play of its holding midfielders, and against an athletic Nigerian attacking unit anchored by Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses, they will surely be tested.
Iran like to sit back deep and strike on the counter, and on the surface, it would seem they would get plenty of looks against Nigeria.
But the Super Eagles lack a real synergy between their midfielders and more advanced players, and as a result, they have opted to use a more direct approach to goal, preferring runs over a pass-based system Iran have encountered against South Korea.
If Nigeria can jell as a team, they should be able to challenge Bosnia-Herzegovina for the second ticket to the knockout stages, with the first most likely going to Argentina. But Iran won't make things easy on them, and momentum is very much on their side.
Ghana v USA
American fans must have cringed when they saw the draw for the group stages of the 2014 World Cup—once again, the Ghanaians are standing in the way of American World Cup glory.
Losses to Ghana in 2006 and 2010 twice led to a premature exit from those tournaments, and for the Yanks to have any success in this year's edition, you get the feeling they just have to put together 90 solid minutes against the Black Stars.
In 2014, the Americans look like they're all grown up. The team was ruthlessly efficient during preparations, and with its confidence on a good level, a date with Ghana couldn't come at a better time.
Finally getting past the Black Stars would lift the Yanks' spirits to a whole new level, exactly the kind of boost they'd need to overcome favoured opposition in Portugal and Germany. It won't be easy, however.
The Ghanaians have a pretty good team of their own, and while mental lapses have plagued the Black Stars in the past, their 4-0 win over Korea Republic was beyond impressive.
Jordan Ayew announced his arrival on the international level with a hat-trick that match, while a familiar face also got on the score sheet in Asamoah Gyan. With a number of talented players in the centre of the pitch, Ghana have the bodies needed to make life miserable on Michael Bradley, a vital component of Jurgen Klinsmann's setup.
Protecting Bradley will be key for the Yanks, and if he has space to find the open men playing in front of him, the USA should be favourites to win this match.