Dempsey will have to assume a greater role in possession with Jozy Altidore ruled out with a hamstring strain. He operates best as a roving menace in the final third, but he also boasts the tools to help the Americans build out of the back by keeping the ball in good areas. And, as he showed in the 2-1 victory against Ghana on Monday, the U.S. captain can provide the final touch, too.
AFP/Getty ImagesCARL DE SOUZA
Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo meandered through Portugal’s opening defeat to Germany and nursed his sore knee in its aftermath. There are doubts about his fitness, but he still possesses all of the tools to threaten the American defense even if he is less than 100 percent. The best bet to stop him: limit the service to him in space and shunt him toward the left flank.
Getty ImagesMartin Rose
USA midfielder Michael Bradley
Bradley did not meet his usual lofty standards in the opening game against Ghana. He must exert more influence over this game against Portugal – both in terms of his closing and his work as the protagonist moving forward – to strengthen the midfield efforts.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho
This clever playmaker serves as the primary conduit for Cristiano Ronaldo. Look for the Monaco midfielder to collect quickly and distribute out to Ronaldo on the left when Portugal wins possession. His inspiration and his precision supplies the sort of invention required to expose the American defense.
AFP/Getty ImagesFABRICE COFFRINI
USA goalkeeper Tim Howard
Howard continued his excellent run of form with another assured performance against Ghana. He will need to match that sort of display with the Portuguese poised to threaten early and often. If he can produce one or two crucial saves, then he might provide the difference between a result and a defeat.