United States vs Portugal
by Ryan Kramer
Time: Sunday June 22nd @ 3:00 PM Pacific
Location: Arena Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil
Weather: 79° F and with a chance of thunderstorms
Radio: ESPN Radio
Spread: United States +.5(+105)/ Portugal -.5(-125)
Injuries will be much of the talk in the build up to this matchup. The United States, as expected, announced that Jozy Altidore will miss Sunday’s game. Klinsmann will have a decision to make as he looks to replace the teams best striker with either Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski. Will Clint Dempsey wear a mask to protect his broken nose? Im not sure why this is one of the major story lines, but it is. Look dude is a gamer he will be ready.
As we switch gears to Portugal, coming off a 4-0 loss against the Germans, injuries remain front and center. All world striker superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is very questionable, as reports have come out that he may be risking his long-term career should he play with a serious knee injury. Even if he does play will he be fit and the force he was in La Liga this year for Real Madrid. Oh and dont forget that defensive anchor Pepe is out with a suspension thanks to his head butt of Thomas Muller and subsequent red card.
Bold Prediction #1: Mike Tirico will say “These two teams are really limping into this matchup” as he awkwardly tries to fake excitement about soccer. Mike get over it, the hot blonde chick with the english accent is just more believable, sorry bro.
The US will continue employ a 4-2-3-1 even though Jozy Altidore is out as the will likely just swap in Aron Johannsson or Chris Wondolowski. Klinsmann could also shift Dempsey up top although I feel that he is better suited to play in more of a playmaker roll. They will have to show more poise and confidence then they did against Ghana as not only did Ghana dominate possession but they routinely broke down the USA defense and got off uncontested shots from inside 25 yards.
Portugal will again show up with their relatively new 4-3-3 look which in theory is supposed to allow their skillful players to let their creativity thrive. Look for a lot of diagonal runs across the back four of the United States testing this very green group that gave Ghana a number of chances on goal due to a lack of pace. On the flip side will Pepe’s absence create openings to allow Bradley to have a bounce back game for the Americans.
The keys to the game for the United States very simply will be can they play with the poise and confidence needed to defend and posses the ball against a quality filled side in Portugal. For the Portuguese can they produce more offense than they did against the Germans, as they say you can’t win without scoring any goals.
Bold Prediction #2: You did not know that the nickname of the Portuguese national soccer team is “A Selecção das Quinas”, or “the selection of machines”. I know very strange.
Portugal gets their first goal of the World Cup and threaten for more but are stifled by Tim Howard’s great efforts. Michael Bradley bounces back playing a major role as the United States posses the ball with confidence. The Americans also get a big lift from replacement striker Aron Johannsson who likely pops his World Cup goal scoring cherry
Stars and Stripes 2 – The Selection of Machines 1