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2014 World Cup: 5 Reasons Why USMNT Will Beat Portugal

2014 World Cup: 5 Reasons Why USMNT Will Beat Portugal

Tim Howard
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

With the chance to move on to the knockout stage, the U.S. Men's National Team will take on Portugal in Manaus on Sunday. While Portugal fields some impressive individual players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, there are five key reasons that will show why the USMNT will defeat Portugal and have a shot to win their group for the second time in two World Cup cycles.

5. Michael Bradley Has Yet to Play a Good Game

USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

5. Michael Bradley Has Yet to Play a Good Game

USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Bradley is the USMNT's most important player. When Bradley has time and space on the ball, the USMNT attack looks exponentially better than when he is off his game. Ghana's speed and high-pressing style seemed to rattle Bradley enough that he played below the usual high standard we've come to expect from him. Portugal cannot press the way Ghana did, so Bradley should have ample time to create chances on Sunday.

4. Jurgen Klinsmann Knows What It Takes to Advance

USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jurgen Klinsmann Knows What It Takes to Advance

USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann won the 1990 World Cup with West Germany as a player and achieved a third-place finish with Germany in 2006 as a manager. Klinsmann has the pedigree and experience in both aspects of the game to know what it takes to advance. So far, he has pushed all the right buttons when the USMNT has needed a result and with the stakes very high on Sunday, our faith in his decisions should be sky high.

3. Portugal is Lacking on Defense

Pepe headbutts Thomas Muller
Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

3. Portugal is Lacking on Defense

Pepe headbutts Thomas Muller
Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Portugal has suffered two major setbacks on defense with Pepe's suspension and Fabio Coentrao's injury. The two players are world-class at their respective positions for club team Real Madrid and their absence provides a problem for Portugal and an opening for the USMNT.

2. The USMNT's Fitness Level is Higher than Portugal's

Jermaine Jones of the USMNT
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2. The USMNT's Fitness Level is Higher than Portugal's

Jermaine Jones of the USMNT
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In the build up to the World Cup, Jurgen Klinsmann talked ad nauseam about the staggeringly high level of fitness his team has displayed. If this is to be believed, then the USMNT should outlast Portugal in the hot and humid Manaus conditions on Sunday. If the game is still in the balance with 30 minutes remaining, look for the USMNT to show off that fitness and drive for the chances on goal against Portugal's tired legs.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo is Not 100 Percent Fit

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

1. Cristiano Ronaldo is Not 100 Percent Fit

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While playing one of the world's two best players is an extremely difficult task, Cristiano Ronaldo being at less than 100 percent is an advantage almost any team who opposes him will take. The USMNT was fixing to pay keen attention to Ronaldo even without his injury, so the gameplan should not change much. Ronaldo is still very dangerous at less than 100 percent, but look for Jurgen Klinsmann to optimize their attack down the right flank.