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U.S. rear guard is at forefront against Portugal in World Cup fray

Americans' rear guard will be at the forefront in World Cup battle against Portugal
U.S. defender Matt Besler, who left Ghana game at halftime, is ready to anchor back line

The rear guard remains intact for the U.S. against Portugal today at 3 p.m. PDT, with Matt Besler's sore hamstring cooperating in practice and the other three back-liners emerging unscathed from the Ghana game.

Besler departed at halftime of the Americans' World Cup debut after sensing a twinge in his right hamstring. The switch resulted in a windfall as Besler's understudy, John Brooks, tallied the winning goal.

But Besler, based on his superior defense, will return to the lineup to chase Ronaldo, along with fellow center back Geoff Cameron, left back DeMarcus Beasley and right back Fabian Johnson.

Beasley was the weak link against the Ghanians, allowing them a free run for much of the match.

The U.S. prefers to explain his subpar play as an off night rather than as the beginning of the end for the 32-year-old veteran of four World Cups.

Cameron, a former right back, excelled in the middle against Ghana.

At his previous position, Johnson will carry an outsized burden to stop Ronaldo, who tends to start offensive sequences on the left side.

A team effort will be required to offset Ronaldo, including a helping hand from defensive-minded midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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