U.S.A. vs. Portugal
2014 FIFA World Cup, Group Stage
Sunday, June 22; 3 pm PT; Arena Amazona; Manaus, Brazil
TV: ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision
With the U.S. National Team's 2-1 win over Ghana on Monday, the odds of the Americans reaching the Round of 16 increased dramatically. A win on Sunday against Portugal would all but assure that the U.S. will advance out of the Group of Death.
Here are four things to know ahead of the match with the No. 4 ranked team in the world.
Injuries and Suspensions
The U.S. has already ruled out forward Jozy Altidore, who suffered a hamstring strain in the first half of the win over Ghana, but expects to have Matt Besler (hamstring) and Clint Dempsey (broken nose) available.
Meanwhile Portugal is being coy about the availability of Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been troubled by a knee injury, though some reports indicate that he will not be available on Sunday and could be shut down for the remainder of the tournament. Portugal will play without defender Pepe, who was shown a red card against Germany, and defender Fabio Coentrao, who is unavailable due to injury.
The U.S. is 2-2-1 all-time against Portugal, with the most recent coming in the 2002 World Cup when the U.S. topped Portugal 3-2 in the Group Stage opener in South Korea. The Americans went on to finish second in the group and advanced to the quarterfinals while Portugal finished third and was eliminated.
In the two World Cups since, Portugal finished fourth in 2006 and reached the Round of 16 in 2010. The U.S. was ousted in the Group Stage in 2006 and also reached the Round of 16 in 2010. They are much different teams than the ones that went toe-to-toe in 2002, but that match will certainly be referenced throughout Sunday's event.
Michael Bradley has shown again and again how vital he is to the U.S. team and it was clear in the Ghana match. The Toronto FC midfielder was limited in his effectiveness by an aggressive Ghana midfield, and for an extended period the U.S. was outplayed because of it. If he can bounce back against Portugal, it stands to negate some of what is lost without Altidore in the lineup. Similarly, Joao Moutinho is an important cog for Portugal whose role becomes even more crucial if Ronaldo is unavailable.
Klinsmann in Control
U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has never lost to Portugal as a player or coach. He went 1-0-3 in four matches as a player and won the only contest as a coach. That was a big one, too, as he led Germany to a win over Portugal in the third-place game in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. If he can keep that streak alive, it will mean great things for the U.S. heading into the final match of the Group Stage against Germany.