My college digital media professor Cynthia Joyce would be disappointed if I buried today's lede, so I'm going to make yesterday's recap oh-so-brief. In summation: Lionel Messi... wow. Germany and Ghana played to a draw in possibly the most exciting game of the Cup so far, and Nigeria beat Bosnia and Herzegovina (but probably shouldn't have). And now, the lede.
The U.S. Men's National Team take the field today, looking to shock the world (again) and secure safe passage into this World Cup's last 16. Win and we're in. No one thought it'd be possible for Team America to make the knockout round in the Group of Death, let alone have a shot at doing it in two games. Yet, here we are. The only thing standing between the US and unprecedented soccer glory is this guy.
True, there are 10 other players on Portugal's squad, but if we can contain Cristiano Ronaldo's magic and somehow create our own without the aid of striker Jozy Altidore, I believe that we will win. And right now the USMNT needs all the believers they can get.
If you were to watch one game this World Cup, I implore you: let it be this one. Our boys are 90 minutes away from achieving the impossible. Ninety minutes from proving to the world that America is now a fútbol force with which to be reckoned. We've proved the world wrong before (see: America v. Britain, circa 1775; America v. Russia, circa 1980; and Balboa v. Drago, circa 1985). Let's do it again. For one day, let's all be fútbol fans and cheer the Red, White, and Blue to victory.
And wherever you watch the game today, remember the words below. This is the battle cry of the American Outlaws, the USMNT's official fan club:
I.I BELIEVE.I BELIEVE THAT.I BELIEVE THAT WE.
I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!
I get goosebumps just typing that. Think of those words as a testament, not just to our soccer team's resolve, but to the American way. We are who we are as a country because we believe. We believe in ourselves, and we believe in each other. We believe that, if we put our minds to it, we can achieve the improbable, the impossible. It's been our way of life for over 200 years. So I beseech you: watch this game. Believe that we will win. And we will.
I believe. Do you?
Match of the Day: Rhetorical
It's not going to be easy, although certain circumstances have played out in Team USA's favor. Portugal's prized centre-back, Pepe, decided to be "headstrong" (get it?!) and get suspended for today's game, which is nice. Also, left-back Fábio Coentrão is also out after being injured in Selecção das Quinas's destruction at the hands of the Germans. As mentioned above, we're without Altidore, so the offensive reins will likely be turned over to Alabama native Aron Johannsson, who's not really accustomed to playing a full 90. If Ronaldo is fit, it could spell doom for The Yanks, but I believe. Klinsmann, yet again, finds a way to see us through. My Pick: USA 2, Portugal 1
Player to Watch: Tim Howard
Timmy. He's been 'Merica's most successful domestic soccer export in recent years, plying his trade at English side Everton. And he'll need the game of his life if CR7 (Ronaldo) looks his usual self. Considered one of the best goalies in the world, Howard will need to be nothing but if the USMNT are to snatch a victory today. Our hopes and dreams rest (literally) in his hands.
Match Day Dish: Planked Salmon with Maple-Mustard Glaze (USA)
A Native American adaptation, planked salmon gets the smoky, grilled treatment here. The maple-mustard glaze really puts this dish over the top in terms of tastiness. Enjoy this recipe after 'Merica sends Portugal home wanting. If you do make it, take pictures and send them into our Instagram contest with the hashtag #CLKickingDishes for a chance to win prizes (details here). Happy World Cup day eleven, and GO Team USA! I believe.
Planked Salmon with Maple-Mustard GlazeHands-on Time: 15 min. Total Time: 2 hr.
- 1 (15 x 4 x 1/4-inch) cedar grilling plank