It's funny how one game can flip things on their head.
Before the first round of matches in Group G in the 2014 World Cup, it was looking like mission impossible for the US national team to advance to the knockout stages.
But after their dramatic 2-1 win over Ghana and Germany's 4-0 whitewashing of Portugal, all of a sudden we're talking about the possibility of the US locking up a berth to the second round as early as Sunday against Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. (6 pm ET, ESPN). But is that a game the Americans can realistically win?
"A week ago, I would've told you no. Three days ago, I would've told you no," said LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan on Tuesday's Dan Patrick Show. "After seeing [Portugal] self-destruct, not just soccer-wise against Germany, but how they self-destructed mentally and how naïve and amateurish they were and the way they played, I think they're not looking forward to Sunday's game. Nobody likes playing the US because of what you saw [vs. Ghana]. We get punched in the mouth in the 82nd minute, and the guys respond and score a goal three minutes later against all the odds."
However, the US have issues of their own. First there's the broken nose suffered by captain Clint Dempsey – "If there's anyone who can get through that and deal with it, it's him," Donovan commented.
But even more alarming are the first-half hamstring injuries picked up by defender Matt Besler and forward Jozy Altidore – "I'm not a doctor, but it would be hard to imagine him playing again in the first round," Donovan said about Altidore, who came out in the 22nd minute of Monday's opener. The USA's all-time leading scorer feels there must be something behind it.
"My guess is that If you're having a bunch of muscle injuries and cramping and stuff like that, there was some factor involved," said Donovan, who also praised the substitute moves of manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who infamously left him off the US roster. "Whether it was overtraining or whether it was not being prepared for the heat, there was something that went on there. So you could be a little critical of that."
The injury issues do not take away from the intrigue surrounding Sunday's matchup for the MLS goal king.
"I'm fascinated," he said about the USA-Portugal game. "This is going to be one of the best games of the World Cup because Portugal has to win the game. There's no other way. They can't tie the game. They have to win. And if the US wins, it's very likely Germany is going to beat Ghana. So there's a very, very good likelihood they're through. I can't wait for Sunday."