If there has been anything proven this World Cup in Brazil it is that statistics and FIFA Rankings have meant very little when it comes down to heart and desire this tournament.
Having already seen some great upsets from Costa Rica and other sides in the tournament, the United States has a chance to put one foot in the knockout stage with a victory over Portugal this evening.
Germany crushed the Iberian side in the group opener while the USA ran-out late winners over World Cup rivals Ghana. However, Ghana nearly defeat Germany by the same score yesterday and it took a late record tying goal from veteran Miroslav Klose to draw the Germans level.
USA will take heart from all the positive this summer and go into their match this evening with their heads held high and their nation's hopes and dreams on their shoulders.
A victory over Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo could be a major step for the USA and mark one of their best opening rounds in their recent World Cup history.
The loss of Jozy Altidore could mean either Aaron Johansson or Clint Dempsey are pushed to lead the line, Matt Besler is back and should reclaim his place in the defense ahead of the match.
Portugal are without suspended Pepe in their defense as well as both Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao whom both were forced off due to injury and will not be back.
The Portuguese first team is likely to shuffle greatly and change the potential chemistry in the side which could make their play that much more difficult to wrap their minds around.
If there was ever a time for the USA to strike a critical blow to another superpower in their group the time is tonight.
USA Starting XI: Howard: Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley; Bedoya, Bradley, Beckerman, Jones, Zusi; Dempsey.
Portugal Starting XI: Patricio: Pereira, Alves, Costa, Almeida; Veloso, Carvalho, Moutinho; Nani, Postiga, Ronaldo.
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