This is it. The US men's national team plays a climactic match against powerhouse Germany at noon today, and, as USA Today's For the Win blog puts it, "It's do or … tie … or lose with better goal differential … or something." Confused? Or just so soccer crazed that you'll read anything about this game? Then we've got you covered. Here's what you need to know:
- The US advances if... The US team is definitely through if it wins. They also advance if they tie Germany, or if the Portugal-Ghana match ties—which is happening at the same time. If the US loses, it could still advance, depending on the score of that Portugal-Ghana game. Deadspin has a handy chart of all the possible outcomes, and notes that FiveThirtyEight puts the US' chances at a solid 76%.
- Shouldn't we intentionally draw? It would sure help the US and Germany if they both stood stock still for 90 minutes, but that's not gonna happen. And since the US is an offense-minded club, don't expect it to hang back. "We are not made for going into a game to end with a tie," coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "That's just not in our DNA."
- What's really at stake: Forget about all those wonky scenarios—this is about making a statement against an elite team, writes Jake Simpson at the Atlantic. This is the US' chance to "prove it can hang with—even beat—any country in this World Cup," he argues. Besides, beating Germany would give the US an easy game against Algeria or Russia in the next round, instead of "a trickier faceoff with sneaky-good Belgium."
- What the US needs: Michael Bradley hasn't been as bad as some people think, but he needs to play up to his potential. The US defense, which struggled a bit against Portugal, will also have to hold off a powerhouse German offense that includes the likes of Miroslav Klose.
- Wait, did you say noon? We did. Klinsmann recommends you take the day off work—and has written a doctor's note-style excuse to give to your boss. "I understand that this absence may reduce the productivity of your workplace, but I can assure you that it is for an important cause," he wrote, in a missive tweeted by the US Soccer account.
- Speaking of that Ghana game: Odds suddenly look good for Portugal, because Ghana just kicked two of its stars off the team, CNN reports. Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng were suspended for alleged "verbal attacks."