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United States to finally kick off World Cup

Yesterday in one sentence: Sunday is basically irrelevant because all I can think about is the U.S. game, but since this is a regular feature, yesterday was proof the Europeans can beat non-European teams (even if they aren't good ones) and Lionel Messi is so, so good.

What’s on tap: Germany vs. Portugal, 12 p.m., ESPN; Iran vs. Nigeria, 3 p.m.; ESPN; Ghana vs. United States, 6 p.m., ESPN.

What you’ll see: It’s finally here. After an undercard that features a tasty (and to the United States, very important) match between Germany and Portugal and an Iran-Nigeria match that I’ll probably skip, the Americans take the pitch in Natal.

So far, the World Cup has had plenty of goals and enough for casual fans for potentially catch a small case of World Cup fever. But for everything that the tournament has done to draw in viewers stateside so far, it can be undone by a poor performance in a must-win game for the U.S.

The whole U.S. summer has been built for this game, with matches becoming increasingly more competitive and the team looking its best in the last one against Nigeria. They were one of the first teams to arrive in Brazil, and with most of the players playing in a summer league (MLS) here in American, are likely well acclimated to the Brazilian heat so far. Ghana has knocked the United States out of the last two World Cups. A Ghana victory here would effectively make it three. But get ready for your formal introduction to Michael Bradley, America. He will be the difference-maker today.

As for the Germany-Portugal match-up, I’m pulling for Germany simply for U.S. purposes. A U.S. win and Portugal loss today means that when those two teams face off Sunday, a United States win in the rainforest of Manaus would effectively seal a spot in the knockout stages. Portugal will be hoping that Cristiano Ronaldo will be full strength, though Germany is such a strong, deep side that it may not matter.

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