In every sport, there comes a time when a team experiences a moment of pure ecstasy, but then is knocked down and can't get back up.
The United States men's national team was given that moment of ecstasy by its always reliable captain, Clint Dempsey, in the 81st minute of its Group G clash with Portugal.
Right as the American celebrations of advancing to the knockout stage were about to begin, Cristiano Ronaldo popped up out of nowhere to deliver a remarkable cross to the head of Silvestre Varela.
Incredible pass by Cristiano Ronaldo to tie game 2-2 https://t.co/F4LE6Fv7ZI— gifdsports (@gifdsports) June 22, 2014
As the ball flew past American keeper Tim Howard, all manager Jurgen Klinsmann could do was shrug his shoulders and accept the fate that was handed to his side in the Group of Death.
Now that the result has finally begun to sink in across the globe, it is time to realize that the Americans are actually in pretty decent shape when it comes to earning advancement to the knockout round.
Tim Howard: "Football's cruel sometimes." Disappointed with finish. Says US is where it wanted to be before the tournament.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 23, 2014
The Americans are tied on top of the group alongside Germany with four points, and it just so happens the two sides will meet in the final game Thursday in Recife.
Conspiracy theorists and lovers of boring football will remark over the next few days that playing to a lifeless draw would benefit both sides, but that is the opposite of what we are likely to see on the pitch of the Arena Pernambuco.
Klinsmann asked about collusion with GER: "The US is known to give all they have in every single game, otherwise Mexico wouldn't be here."— Kurtis Larson (@KurtLarSUN) June 23, 2014
After the match, Klinsmann and his players all seemed to the deliver the same message, which was there is a lot left to play for in the group, including a potential win over Germany.
Throughout his reign as United States manager, Klinsmann has instilled a level of confidence in his side that no previous American manager has.
Heading into the Group of Death, the Yanks looked like a side that could cause damage, not just because of their talent, but also because of their never-say-die attitude that they carried with them for most of the qualification process.
With that attitude, the Americans have proved to the world they will never give up, and if we are to believe otherwise, we should call ourselves foolish.
That spirit was first on display against Ghana, when John Brooks scored four minutes after Andre Ayew equalized for Ghana.
If the Yanks were managed by any other leader from the past in that game, the result might have been completely different.
The same happened against Portugal after the team went down early on a defensive blunder by Geoff Cameron. Instead of getting down on themselves, and letting Ronaldo and his teammates beat them up, the Stars and Stripes took the game to their opponents with authority.
Yes, you can look back on the missed chance by Michael Bradley in the 55th minute and say that would've been the difference in the final score, but if you do that, you must also put into account the chances Portugal put on goal that were denied by Howard.
Adversity is something this American team looks in the face and laughs at, and that is an attribute that none of the other 31 teams in Brazil can beat the Yanks in.
There will likely be no cautious play to earn a draw against Germany; if that were to happen, it would go against everything Klinsmann has preached since he took over from Bob Bradley in 2011.
The players will still carry a ton of confidence into Thursday's match, which can be won by the Yanks, despite the opinions of many so-called pundits.
What will the result of the United States vs. Germany game be?
They will not need a 90th-minute miracle in the final group game to advance this time around at the World Cup because the key goal they need will come much earlier in the match.
Even if they get down against Germany, the Americans will provide a relentless attack, like they did while down against Portugal.
From the time you finish reading this article to the time the United States steps on the pitch in Recife, you can second-guess Klinsmann's decision-making skills or the play of certain players, but once the first whistle blows Thursday, one belief will remain true.
The belief that this team will win, which is so eloquently put by American soccer fans based across the globe for this tournament, will once again emanate through a side that knows no fear and is confident that one of the final 16 spots at the World Cup belongs to it.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.