Just after he was cut from the U.S. roster last month, Seattle Sounders right back Brad Evans posted this snarky tweet: “You got off easy this time @Cristiano.”
The Americans are confident their defensive depth can stop the two-time world player of the year when they play Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal on Sunday night in the Amazon rain forest capital of Manaus.
“He’s a complete player,” midfielder Michael Bradley said. “When you look at the game today, there’s such a premium on the physical aspect of the game – speed, strength, endurance – and he is a guy who checks all those boxes. He’s somebody who can make the difference at any moment.”
Coming off a 2-1 opening win over Ghana, the U.S. could possibly clinch advancement with a win and would put itself in excellent position with a tie.
Right back Fabian Johnson, left back DaMarcus Beasley and central defenders Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler figure to fixate on Ronaldo. Bradley, Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones will assist in marking him from the midfield.
The 29-year-old forward with the perpetually gelled hair has topped 50 goals in four straight seasons with Real Madrid. He was voted FIFA player of the year in 2008, then in January ended Lionel Messi’s streak of four consecutive awards.
However, Ronaldo has been bothered by tendinitis in his left knee for more than two months, and he wore a brace Friday during Portugal’s training session.
“At the moment we certainly expect that he is going to play,” Bradley said.
Court orders water breaks
A Brazilian court ordered FIFA to introduce water breaks in World Cup matches when temperatures reach 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 Fahrenheit).
A labor court in the capital of Brasilia issued a temporary injunction saying the breaks are mandatory in the 30th minute of each half so players can get hydrated. FIFA had said it would only implement the breaks when its medical staff considered them necessary.
FIFA said it had already recommended the breaks in such weather conditions and told The Associated Press that the labor court had merely confirmed the pre-established guidelines.
Four regular starters missed full training for the Netherlands as Arjen Robben, Daley Blind and Nigel de Jong jogged around the pitch while defender Bruno Martins Indi sat out the session as he continued his recovery from a mild concussion suffered on Wednesday. … Cameroon’s football federation says it is investigating what it calls “disgraceful behavior” by some of its players in the loss to Croatia on Wednesday. Toward the end of the match, defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto headbutted teammate Benjamin Moukandjo and the pair scuffled before being separated. Midfielder Alex Song was earlier red carded for elbowing Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic off the ball.