Team USA trains Sunday at Estadio das Dunas in Brazil, preparing for Monday's match against Ghana.
- Germany versus Portugal, Salvador, 12 p.m. ET
- Ghana versus USA, Natal, 6 p.m. ET
Now it’s Team USA’s turn to take a shot in what’s been a pretty dazzling World Cup so far.
But to make an early mark on this tournament, the Americans — minus Landon Donovan, who didn’t make the team — on Monday night will have to get past Ghana, a squad that’s had their number in the past two World Cups.
The African team eliminated the U.S. men in both 2006 and 2010, but the Americans have cause for optimism in Brazil: strong qualifying play has them ranked 14th in the world, thanks to manager Jurgen Klinsmann and a deep bench of talent, even without Donovan, their top scorer in South Africa, on their side.
Unfortunately for fans of U.S. soccer, even if they do survive against Ghana, their chances of getting out of Group G — called the Group of Death, if you needed further clarification on how tough it is — are slim. Even the ebullient Klinsmann has said the U.S.'s chance of winning a World Cup are "just not realistic," to the dismay of American exceptionalists everywhere.
But he's right. One need look no further than Monday’s early game to understand why.
At noon Eastern, Group G rivals Germany (No. 2 in the world) and Portugal (No. 3) will meet — a clash between a bona fide soccer superpower that is peaking and the side with arguably the best player in the world, respectively.
That player is Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (below), who this year took the FIFA Ballon d'Or trophy (world soccer's equivalent of an MVP trophy) from Lionel Messi.
On Germany’s side, watch for 24-year-old midfielder Thomas Mueller, who was the World Cup's brightest young star last time around -– scoring five goals and assisting three others in South Africa — and has only become a more confident scorer since, playing for Bayern Munich. Make no mistake: the Germans are a real threat to win this tournament.