The U.S. is playing Portugal on Sunday (6p ET on ESPN) in a game that could make or break either team's chances at the World Cup. Here are four reasons you should watch the game.
1. The U.S. could make history.
If the U.S. wins against Portugal they will almost certainly advance. Germany's tie with Ghana on Saturday was a great victory for the U.S. team because it means if the U.S. beats Portugal on Sunday they can go on to play Germany for an attempt at a Group G win. If they face off with Germany, it would be the first time ever that the U.S. team advanced to the knockout stage of consecutive World Cup tournaments.
And they don't even need to beat Germany to win Group G. All they have to do is tie and they move on to face much easier opponents. Sunday's game will thus be a suspenseful one, as a win against Portugal will be a huge win for the U.S. team, guaranteeing them a spot in the second round, but a loss will make their chances of going further a lot less likely.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo.
He's known for taking his shirt off and flexing after he scores a goal. One of soccer's cockiest — and best — players, Ronaldo has been recovering from knee and thigh injuries, and although he says he's ready, photos of him in pain and limping around suggest otherwise. A doctor even told him that playing on his knee could risk tearing the tendon beyond repair. Still, he's a resilient player. He apparently told that doctor, "I'm the one that says whether I'm playing or not."
Take into account Portugal's embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Germany on their tournament opener and Ronaldo, FIFA's reigning World Player of the Year, is sure to be more determined than ever. And Portugal is desperate for a win, and revenge, after getting knocked out of the 2002 World Cup during the group stage by none other than — the U.S.
3. Clint Dempsey.
The U.S. captain broke his nose during Monday's victory game over Ghana. And instead of sitting the rest of the World Cup out or wearing a protective mask, Dempsey is playing at Sunday's game, mask-less. Of course, there are good reasons for not wearing a mask in the Amazon rainforest, heat and humidity being one big factor. But his decision to play for about an hour on Monday with a broken nose, combined with his determination to keep playing, has earned him the reputation of a tough guy on social media.
Dempsey also scored the quickest goal of the 2014 World Cup against Ghana. He made the goal exactly 29 seconds into the game, giving the U.S. an early lead. It was the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history. So if anything, Sunday's match is a Ronaldo vs. Dempsey match, for their competing egos alone.
4. Join thousands of other U.S. fans.
More than 200,000 of the tickets sold at the 2014 World Cup were purchased by U.S. residents. That figure ranks second among all nations worldwide, behind only Brazil, the host country. American fans filled the stadium for last Monday's tournament opener for the U.S., which saw a 2-1 triumph over Ghana. Thousands of other American fans are expected to fill U.S. bars and restaurants, not to mention the millions of others watching on TV.