The United States Men's National Team will take to the pitch on Thursday afternoon with a lot on the line. The story has been laid out time and again—all they need is a draw. However, they play one of the top teams in the world, Germany.
The Germany National Team will not lay down. They will want another three points before advancing to the knockout rounds. That puts the U.S. in a precarious position. They will need another stellar game out of their big names, but more importantly they need more unsung heroes to show up.
In the first match it was John Brooks.
The story was about Brooks' game-winning header, but he played admirably in defense.
Jermaine Jones was part of the story for the second match when the U.S. faced Portugal.
Entering the World Cup, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard were the names everyone knew. The U.S. was not expected to be in a position to advance on the final day of Group G play. The talking points were about how Landon Donovan was left off the roster, and how some of the young pieces would get big international experience.
Now, the focus shifts toward the unheralded.
Matt Besler has put his name out there as one of the American's top defensive stars. Aron Johannsson had an appearance following Jozy Altidore's injury that got some fans aquainted with the young striker. The likes of Graham Zusi, Fabian Johnson and Geoff Cameron are becoming more of a presence on the team and with the fans.
Klinsmann will need each and every member of his team to step up their game to advance to the round of 16.
Dempsey cannot get it done by himself up top, and the defense will struggle with the precision of the German attack. It will take a fantastic showing by the entire team to not lose by multiple goals, but if they can continue to get phenomenal performances from unsung heroes, they could pull a stunner on Thursday.
Klinsmann has made the right calls thus far, and that must continue as well. He must make the right substitutions at the right time.
Bars and living rooms across the nation will be on the edge of their seats come time for the first kick. This tournament began with low hopes due to the draw, but after the comeback victory against Ghana there has been a growing sense of belief among American soccer fans.
The virtually unknown players have an opportunity to make themselves heroes in the eyes of many. Ninety minutes, and a little bit of extra time, is all that stand in the way.
Thursday afternoon will be their chance.