For the USMNT, it’s win and they are in

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

This World Cup has not been short of surprises, and the recent Ghana, Germany draw certainly qualifies as one.

With the 2-2 result, Germany stand with four points at the very top of the Group and Ghana has their first point of this tournament.

What does this all mean for the U.S.? Simple. Destiny is in their hands

A U.S. victory will mathematically qualify them for the knockout rounds of the tournament and put them in an unlikely position; first place in the Group of Death. The Americans would be the only team in the entire group to secure two victories through two matches.

A wounded and dangerous Portuguese side is what stands in their way. A Selecção is badly hobbled for this encounter. Hot-headed defender Pepe picked up a red card during Germany’s 4-0 route. Fábio Coentrão is out of the match with injury, ripping the Portuguese of two of their starting defenders. Striker Hugo Almeida picked up an injury against Germany while keeper Rui Patricio comes into the match hobbled as well.

And then there is the mystery that is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Ballon D’Or winner was stifled against Germany last week, and was seen sporting an ice pack in training following the encounter. Reports have varied across several platforms with some claiming a debilitating knee issue to others insisting full fitness for the encounter.

One thing is for sure; Ronaldo will decide if Ronaldo plays.

The U.S. aren’t without their own health concerns. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have to juggle his lineup in order to make up for the loss of Jozy Altidore, who picked up a hamstring strain early in their encounter against Ghana. Clint Dempsey is a likely replacement up top, but Klinsmann has been known to make some head-scratching but ultimately fruitful calls with his roster, particularly when injury and form become a concern. That may mean a surprise start for San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski or even AZ striker Aron Johannsson.

Whatever names are put out there by Klinsmann and his technical staff, the objective will be clear; win. Anything less will mean another week of battling to qualify for the knockout round.

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