5 Things for USA Fans to Look Forward to in Wake of Win vs. Ghana
Now that the United States' 2-1 win over Ghana has sunk in and fans have been able to celebrate, it is time to look forward to the next challenge that awaits the Yanks in Brazil.
The Stars and Stripes will head to the Arena Amazonia in Manaus Sunday looking to follow up on the trend set by the 2002 team by beating Portugal on the way to World Cup success.
There will be plenty of things to discuss before Sunday's clash in the Amazon, but these five talking points are the ones that should get fans excited heading into the second game of Group G play.
The Germany-Ghana Result
Thanks to the wonderful schedulers at FIFA, the Yanks will know about the result of the other Group G game 25 hours before the start of the Portugal match.
With that in mind, manager Jurgen Klinsmann will be able to set his lineup according to not only the Portugal lineup, but also to how the table looks.
If Germany wins in Fortaleza, the United States will have a chance to clinch a spot in the knockout round with a win.
If Ghana wins or earns a point, the complexion of the group will change, which may make Portugal a bit more desperate.
This could open more holes in its defense for the Yanks to exploit.
Holes in the Portugal Defense
Speaking of those potential holes in the Portugal defence, there could be many of them in Manaus.
We already know that noted reckless defender Pepe is out for his idiotic red card against Germany, and that Fabio Coentrao has also been ruled out on account of injury.
Per Gerard Meagher of The Guardian, Coentrao said: "I’m afraid that my World Cup has come to an end. I think it’s a serious injury, though I hope it’s not."
Without the defensive duo in the lineup against Germany, the Portuguese did not look great at the back.
They will now have to deal with the attacking tandem of Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley.
Although the Americans don't possess anyone like Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil and the others, they do have their own skills to break down a defense that will be makeshift at best.
The Good Michael Bradley
While the other two defensive-minded midfielders, Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones, had terrific games against Ghana, Michael Bradley failed to show any class.
This was noted by Grantland's Ed Feng, who wrote on Twitter: "Still coming down from thrill of beating Ghana. But #USMNT, especially Michael Bradley, must play better to get out of this group."
Bradley's first touch was far from spectacular, and he failed to spark any counterattack when the American defense needed a reprieve from the Ghanaian onslaught.
The good news for American fans is a second consecutive performance like that from Bradley is unlikely to happen, which should mean the Yanks will be able to hold more possession and actually get a few chances on goal.
Wingers Who Work
Alejandro Bedoya showed amazing heart for the Yanks in Natal, but he did not secure a starting spot in Manaus because of his offensive showing.
When Graham Zusi came on in the 77th minute, he brought a fresh set of legs and gave the Americans a better opportunity to score.
If Klinsmann opts to go with the same 4-4-2 formation against Portugal, only one of the two wingers will be able to start.
However, there is a positive side to that.
One of the players will come off the bench to provide solid work rate and chances against a Portugal side that will presumably be tired based on the conditions seen in Manaus during the England-Italy game.
Everywhere Asamoah Gyan was on the pitch Monday, you saw Geoff Cameron in his back pocket.
Cameron turned in a strong performance at center back against Ghana, and if Matt Besler is ruled out for the Portugal game, his role will be even bigger.
Playing alongside the inexperienced John Brooks for an entire 90 minutes will put an immense amount of pressure on Cameron to be a vocal leader against Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the Portugal attack.
Luckily for the Yanks, Cameron has handled the pressures of the position well in the last four games.
He could be on his way to yet another big game as the Yanks look to continue to make their mark on Group G.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.