[AUTHOR'S NOTE: For a recap of yesterday's matches or to read about Messi vs. Switzerland, click here or here, respectively. We're going full-tilt 'Merica for this one, y'all.]

July 1, 2014. Not since Independence Day in '96 has our country been more unified, more determined to triumph over the forces of evil in the month of July. Back then, it was some dreadlocked-bio-suit-wearing, telepathic little bug-eyed goons from outer space. This time, it's even more serious. This time, we face the country that gave us these:

Yes, fellow patriots. You're eyes don't deceive you…the dreaded Belgian waffles. [Whole body shudders uncontrollably.] Today we face the country that gave us yet another excuse to forego a healthy breakfast and instead drown our mornings in maple syrup and butter. Breakfast, the most important of meals, sabotaged by a country that now has sinister plans to end our World Cup hopes and dreams. Is there no end to this madness? Where is Bill Pullman when we need him most?

But I digress. Today isn't just a war on waffles. Today is a war on waffling. Too long have we been a country that turns our noses up in the world's most popular sport's general direction. We'll all be fans of our men's national team today, sure, but if they lose? It's back to saying soccer is meh.

Well I'm proposing right here: let's quit the waffling. Let's remove the waffles from our diet. Win or lose, this World Cup has proven time and time again that soccer, aka The Beautiful Game, holds its own with our country's other big four sports. You want nonstop action? Check. You want suspense? Check. Drama? Yup. You want heartbreak? Have at it, masochists. You want indescribable bliss? Right here, boss. This game has something for everyone. So let's quit the waffling and at least agree, even if you choose not to watch anymore soccer for another four years, that soccer is more than just meh.

And win or lose, we as a country should be proud of our boys. Proud of what they've accomplished. Proud of what we believe they will accomplish today. The whole world thought they wouldn't make it this far. The whole world thought they were the weakest link in a "Group of Death." Yet, here they stand. One game away from being in the final eight. Ninety plus minutes away from proving that America, with all its soccer waffling history, belongs in the same club as the rest of the world's soccer superpowers. Regardless of whether they win or lose today, and I sincerely, wholeheartedly, unabashedly believe that we will win, our hats should be off to them. They are the physical embodiments of hope, of the American dream. And they're ready. Are you?

Match to Watch: Lady Liberty vs. BelgiumBelgium is young, talented, and tough to beat. Team 'Merica is battle-tested, wily, and couldn't spell the word quit if you gave them three hours and a dictionary. My Pick: USA 3, Belgium 1

Player to Watch: Jermaine JonesUnquestionably our best player throughout the group stage, Jones has a nonstop motor and a never-surrender attitude. Capable on offense and defense, he'll be all over the field today, giving the Belgians fits. Will he care that he's playing with a broken nose? No. No, he will not.

Match Day Dish: Blueberry Thrill (USA)As Americans, we tend to celebrate personal or collective achievement in the logical fashion—with libations. This one, containing America's berry, is both refreshing and ridiculously good. The sweetness of blueberry and the smokiness of cardamom combine to create a delightful summertime sipper. Make this drink, toast our team, and take some photos. Send said photos to our Instagram account with the hashtag #CLKickingDishes for a chance to win prizes (details here). Have a great World Cup Day 19! Cheers.

Blueberry ThrillTotal Time: 1 hr. 11 min.

  • 2 cups blueberries