For those of us hoping for a World Cup featuring wide-open attacking football, the first four days have not disappointed. From the spectacular (Robin van Persie's flying Dutchman looping header over Iker Casillas) to the powerful (Claudio Marchisio's strike to break English hearts), so far the World Cup has not disappointed - with even Les Bleus, who have managed just two goals in the past two World Cups, combined, smashing three goals in their opening match.
Today, we finally get to see our very own Americans take to the field, taking on the Black Stars from Ghana, with the Yanks out to revenge a pair of losses to Ghana in the World Cup in 2006 and 2010. But first, we have two other games on tap, beginning with a heavyweight bout between Germany and Portugal at 9 a.m. PST. It's one of the top-billed games in the group stage, with the Germans one of the favorites (along with Brazil and Argentina) to win the whole tournament, while Portugal is captained by the world's best player in Cristiano Ronaldo. But Portugal is more than just one man, as they line-up an impressive side and could very well come out on top in the infamous Group of Death. It promises to be an excellent match, which will kick off at 9 a.m. PST on ESPN.
Ironically, the next game is the polar opposite, a game that won't catch the attention of any casual football fans, with the noon PST game featuring a Group F clash between Iran and Nigeria. Both teams enter the tournament as outsiders-looking-in, but both have squads that could flip a surprise (Iran being the top-ranked team out of Asia, while the Nigerian Super Eagles are coming off a African Cup of Nations win last year), so while it doesn't get the hype of Germany vs. Portugal, this might end up being just as exciting of a game. Kick-off is set for noon PST, also on ESPN.
And finally, once those four teams are done, it will be time for the game we've all been waiting for - the United States of America will take on Ghana at 3 p.m. PST on ESPN. The Americans are no pushover, having beaten African Cup of Nations winner Nigeria, 2-1, in their final tune-up game before the World Cup. More importantly, this is the first American team in recent memory that has the swagger and confidence that they will win, not simply show up and put up a good effort. These Americans expect to win and it promises to be an exciting game, with our USMNT out to avenge the losses of 2006 and 2010.
The conditions are expected to be absolutely terrible, with heavy rains forecast in Natal. Moreover, the Americans will have to play on the same field that was chewed up in the Mexico vs. Cameroon game a few days prior. But since the United States is no stranger to grinding out physical games in terrible conditions, the conditions shouldn't hamper our guys' ability to grind out a win.
Oh yeah, it's time. Let's do this America. Kick off for our boys in Red, White, and Blue is set for 3 p.m. PST on ESPN. This is your World Cup open thread for the fifth day of action. Fire away with your thoughts, analysis, and opinions as you tune in and as we cheer on the Red, White and Blue.