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USA soccer rivals Portugal, Ghana may settle America's World Cup fate

Portugal tries again to keep America out of second round
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The USA soccer team has to take care of their World Cup business on June 26 against Germany. But if the Americans fail again to advance through the World Cup on their own, they will need some help. Unfortunately, the USA would then depend on its two biggest soccer demons in Portugal and Ghana.

The U.S. finally overcame getting knocked out by Ghana in 2006 and 2010 by beating it to start the 2014 tournament. However, Portugal then became America's new nemesis on June 22 with its last-second tie. Now the two teams that have given the USA its worst World Cup results of the last decade may settle its fate.

That won't happen if the Americans upset Germany or forge a tie. But if the Germans win, then the Portugal-Ghana match has to break the right way. The best way would be for them to tie as well, which would put the U.S. through no matter what happens. But if there is a winner, it would be best if it was Portugal by a slim margin.

Thanks to Germany's 4-0 opening win over Portugal, the Portuguese will not win any goal differential tiebreakers over the Americans. That would only change if Portugal blew out Ghana and if the U.S. lost to Germany by a few goals. Otherwise, if the USA and the Portuguese finish with four points each, it should be safe for the Americans.

A more dicey outcome would be if Ghana wins, since its goal differential is only -1 and America's is only a +1. A one or two goal loss to Germany could doom the U.S. if Ghana wins, which would give Ghana a hand in eliminating America for the third straight World Cup. For all the process that USA soccer has made over the years, having that same old ending would cancel a lot of it out.

Yet the chances of that grew slimmer before the matches started, as Ghana kicked stars Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Ali Muntari out due to separate fighting incidents, according to Yahoo Sports. Of course, if this gives Portugal a better chance to blow them out, it could still backfire on America.

Does Portugal or Ghana have it in them to break USA soccer fans' hearts one last time -- if they even get the chance? Everyone will find out starting at noon est on ESPN and ESPN 2.

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