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USA soccer gets second chance to advance in World Cup

The USA soccer team is in the final leg of its seemingly brutal World Cup group of death. However, the U.S. isn't dead yet, as it was seconds away from doing what no American soccer team had ever done before. It can still happen on June 26, as the Americans can advance to the World Cup knockout stage for the second straight time for the first time ever, despite having Germany in the way.

Klinsmann seeks to get U.S. through at Germans' expense
Klinsmann seeks to get U.S. through at Germans' expense
Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

If the USA had held for 20 more seconds against Portugal on June 22, a win or tie over Germany would have given it first place in Group G -- and a knockout round berth would already be secured. But thanks to the stoppage time goal heard around America, there's still a chance for the U.S. to be eliminated from the World Cup today.

An upset over Germany would still give the Americans first place, while a tie would keep the Germans in first due to goal differential -- mainly from their 4-0 win over Portugal to start the tournament. But if the U.S. loses, it needs to make sure it doesn't lose by more than one goal, especially if Ghana defeats Portugal or if Portugal has a blowout victory.

Goal differential tiebreakers didn't have to determine the fate of USA soccer. Of course, if everyone knew it would come down to that two weeks ago, it might not have hurt as much, given the daunting task the Americans had. But because the U.S. was so close to getting through just four days ago, it obviously can't feel too safe.

Although the Germans were lucky to tie Ghana on June 21, they are still the heavy favorites in this match and remain one of the overall World Cup favorites. While no one is as familiar with Germany as U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann -- to the point where some wondered if he and the Germans worked out a prearranged tie so they could both advance -- beating them would be tough even if the Portugal ending is just a memory.

This will be a landmark day for USA soccer, one way or another. Either it will advance in the World Cup for the third time in the last four tries, or suffer its most gut wrenching exit to date. It will obviously come down to the wire either way, starting at noon est on ESPN.