You may be new to the World Cup, you may have hated soccer in the past for the lack of scoring and simulation ("diving") or you may have played since you were five, followed the sport religiously and watched it develop to the point where even former NFL players are going ape over it:
Whichever category you fall into, you are probably a bit concerned over the USMNT's failure to close out their match against Portugal.
Take a deep breath. Now, exhale. It's going to be all right.
The shock should have worn off by now, and you realize that, while a bit deflating, their stoppage-time draw against Portugal was not a death blow. The U.S. can still advance to the knockout stages via multiple scenarios.
Yes, the U.S. should have seen the Portugal match out. Even a Cristiano Ronaldo playing at 60 percent should have been denied space to play in his fateful perfect cross.
Michael Bradley needed to hoof it out instead of doing this with 30 seconds left, courtesy of Austin Gourlay (via Philadelphia-based writer Brian P. Hickey):
Again, my fellow Americans, it's going to be all right.
Yes, Germany is ranked No. 2 in the world, according to FIFA. Guess who's No. 1 in the world, Spain: the first team eliminated from this edition of the World Cup.
Germany is scary good, as evidenced by its 4-0 win over Portugal. That same team looked vulnerable in its 2-2 draw versus Ghana.
Here's the thing, the U.S. can still advance to the knockout stages even if it loses to Germany. Does that make you a little less anxious?
If the U.S. can't produce a result against the Germans, it can still advance if Ghana doesn't make up a two-goal deficit in differential.
If Ghana and the U.S. tie on goal differential, the next tiebreaker is most goals scored, and the third tiebreaker is head-to-head, where the U.S. own the advantage.
Portugal can only advance if it defeats Ghana and makes up a five-goal difference.
Germany enters the match with a full complement, as Thomas Muller appears to have fully recovered from the bloody knock he took at the end of the Ghana match, as per the Irish Independent.
The U.S. will again be without Jozy Altidore but found a superb replacement in Graham Zusi, who assisted on Dempsey's apparent game-winner against Portugal.
Right wing-back Fabian Johnson (1899 Hoffenheim), whose swooping and slaloming runs gave Portuguese defenders fits all game long, could expose Germany's one real defensive weakness in converted center back Benedikt Howedes, who struggled versus Ghana.
Dempsey is the Dempsey of his Fulham days, playing with supreme confidence and finishing. German-born Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), not known for his scoring prowess (three goals in 44 caps for USA), showed world class in his strike against Portugal.
In his World Cup debut, substitute DeAndre Yedlin proved his salt with an end-line run and diagonal ball to Bradley, who set up Zusi's chip-cross for Dempsey's chested goal.
Klinsmann has stamped this U.S. team with something of a German imprint: crisp passing and superb linkup play from wing-backs and midfielders.
Germany has a wealth of attacking options in Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Bastian Schweinsteiger, Muller, Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich) and the ageless Miroslav Klose, who tied famed Brazilian striker Ronaldo with his 15th World Cup goal in equalizing against Ghana.
The matchups and conventional wisdom may favor Germany, but on current form, the U.S. can do the job. If they can keep their nerves from jangling and eliminate some naivete at the back, this team is going to be fine.
I believe the U.S. will win, draw or lose by only one goal. Not the same ring, but you get the point.
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