RIO DE JANEIRO — The American team has a chance to move on to the next round of the World Cup Sunday when it takes on Portugal.
America’s thrilling victory Monday over Ghana had fans in the city of Manaus in the Amazon excited. Maybe it was the tropical heat but some were talking up the U.S.’ chances against powerhouse Portugal.
“The United States will wipe the floor with Portugal, I’m pretty sure,” said Frank Lugten, a U.S. fan from Boston.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann wasn’t going quite that far, but Portugal is coming off a stinging 4-nil loss to Germany.
“They are with their backs against the wall,” said Klinsmann. “It makes it even more difficult to get a result, but that’s what you want. That’s what a World Cup is about.”
Both squads have injuries to overcome. U.S. striker Jozy Altidore is out with a hamstring. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s very best, has a nagging knee injury, and no one is quite sure how hobbled he will be.
“We’re going to have to know where he’s at at all times,” U.S. midfielder Kyle Beckerman. “When we’re attacking, that can be when he’s most dangerous. You lose the ball, and the next thing you know, it’s in the back of your net. That’s how dangerous he is.”
Nate Scott, soccer writer for USA Today, agrees.
“He’s so good that even if he’s 50 percent, 75 percent he has to be on the field for them,” he said, “just because even if it’s a free kick or something like that he’s that good that he can make a difference.”
An American win Sunday would propel the Americans to the second round of the tournament. A loss or a tie would mean Thursday’s match against Germany could determine the Americans’ fate.