It has finally arrived. Many USMNT fans have been clamoring for Thursday to come and the day is here.
Expect American shut down at around 11 a.m. as the United States take on Germany in the game that will determine the USMNT's fate in the 2014 World Cup.
After a thrilling 2-2 draw in Manaus, Brazil on Sunday the Americans will need to pick themselves up from the tiredness and fatigue they garnered in the Amazonian jungle, and with every team that has played in Manaus going on to lose its next match, things don't look good for the men in Red, White and Blue.
But if there were ever a team to exceed expectation and break tradition, it'd be Jürgen Klinsmann's band of 23. After scoring the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history in its opening 2-1 win over Ghana—a team that had eliminated it in the past two tournaments—the USMNT look very capable of raising a few eyebrows outside the group stage.
And despite a heart-breaking 2-2 draw against Portugal, thanks in large part to Cristiano Ronaldo's last gasp cross finding the head of Silvestre Varela, the Americans showed superior offensive firepower and put on a clinic against the No. 4 ranked team in the world.
Now the Americans face the No. 2 team in Recife, Brazil and it will certainly be a challenge. The easiest way they can advance is if they win or get a draw against Germany. But if they do lose to Germany, U.S. fans must hope that Portugal beat Ghana or that Ghana win by a small margin in order for the USMNT to make it out of the "Group of Death".
While Die Mannschaft are rated as the second team in the world, many pundits have felt they are underwhelming in this World Cup. After an explosive 4-0 win over 10-man Portugal, Germany rallied late to draw 2-2 with Ghana to narrowly stay atop Group G on goal differential. If the Americans' run into the Germany that faced Ghana, they could potentially pull out a draw or even a win. However, if the Germans play like they did against Portugal, the U.S. will likely need to have more than four defenders on the pitch to deflect attack after attack.
The result also relies heavily on which USMNT squad shows up in Recife. If the Yanks can show the offensive acumen that they did against Portugal, Die Mannschaft's back line may be in for a long night.
With target striker Jozy Altidore out indefinitely, the goal scoring onus has fell to "Captain Marvel" himself, Clint Dempsey. And the U.S. captain has delivered, with an early strike against Ghana and a belly-bump against Portugal. But goals have also come from farther back, with young John Brooks writing his name into American Outlaw folklore with his game-winning header against Ghana. And who could forget Jermaine Jones wonder strike on Sunday that put the whole nation on its feet?
If the USMNT can balance a solid defensive performance with the same offensive showing that they had against Portugal, the Yanks might just pull this off; and after receiving a personal shoutout from Klinsmann during his presser Wednesday, maybe DeAndre Yedlin might get his first start of the tournament. Maybe that's a little too much to ask for but hey, anything can happen in the Year of the Klinsmann.
My prediction: 1-1 draw.
Interesting side notes: Some geniuses in the media figured out that if both teams tie they could both go through and spread rumors that Klinsmann and his former assistant, and current Germany manager, Joachim Löw, might be telling their respective teams to play for the draw so both teams could advance. Klinsmann immediately shot down the rumors and said basically that he's playing to win. America approves Mr. Klinsmann.