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June 22, 2014 9:57 AM World Cup: Rumble in the Jungle

By Martin Longman

I feel sorry for the U.S. Mens Soccer Team. They not only have to play Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the two best footballers in the world, but they have to do it in the Amazon where the forecast is “a temperature of 79 degrees with 87% humidity and a chance of thunderstorms.” I can’t imagine trying to run for 90 minutes in 87% humidity.

When England played Italy in Manaus on June 14th, the entire team seemed to wilt after about 70 minutes. America’s star player, Clint Dempsey, is supposed to play despite the broken nose he sustained in the first match against Ghana, but he hasn’t been able to breath clearly through both nostrils and he cancelled a news conference appearance yesterday without explanation. America’s main striker, Jozy Altidore, is out with a tender hamstring.

Of course, Portugal has its own problems.

Portugal, ranked No. 4 in the world, is missing four players: striker Hugo Almeida, goalkeeper Rui Patricio and defender Fabio Coentrao, all of whom are injured, and defender Pepe, who was suspended one game after drawing a red card in the opening 4-0 loss to Germany.

In addition, the availability of Bruno Alves, the team’s most experienced defender, will be a gametime decision, Bento said.

Ronaldo is reportedly suffering from tendonitis in one of his knees, too.

Portugal will be the more desperate of the two teams, as a loss will eliminate them from the tournament after two games, which won’t be good news for the world’s 4th-ranked team. If the USA wins, they are through to the knockout stage of 16, and they can rest some players against Germany. A tie will likely leave things to goal differentials, where the U.S. currently has a two goal advantage on Ghana and a five-goal advantage on Portugal.

With the stakes and environmental conditions, today’s match is going to be an epic struggle.

America’s star midfielder Michael Bradley is prepared for the challenge: “This will be a World Cup where teams that do well will suffer,” Michael Bradley told ESPN’s Roger Bennett before the World Cup. “We want to be the team that can suffer the most.”

Martin Longman is the Web Editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune. He has worked as a community organizer for ACORN/Project Vote and as a political consultant for Democracy for America.

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