Thursday’s World Cup match between Team USA and Germany has major implications for whether or not America will advance past the tournament’s group stage.

The U.S. men’s national team could have secured a spot in the Round of 16 with a victory over Portugal on Sunday, but a late goal from Silvestre Varela handed Team USA an agonizing draw. Instead, Clint Dempsey and company will have to earn a win or a draw against a German squad that has been the class of Group G.

With the continued absence of forward Jozy Altidore due to a hamstring injury, the USMNT relied on offense from unlikely sources in their first two Group G matches. Dempsey, the United States’ premiere goal-scorer, has found the back of the net twice, but little-known reserve defender John Brooks and defensive midfielder Jermaine Jones have each added goals of their own.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad main concern will be on defense, as 2010 World Cup “Golden Boot” winner Thomas Müller spearheads a German attack that has produced a +4 goal differential during this year’s tournament. The United States managed to contain Cristiano Ronaldo against Portugal (until the game’s final minute), but Müller constitutes just one aspect of Germany’s prolific offense. Mario Götze, Mesut Özil, Miroslav Klose and Sami Khedira are all expected to be active in the opposing end.

In the event of a draw, both Germany and the United States would advance to the Round of 16. Even if they lose, both teams can still advance to the next round, but their fate will be dependent on the outcome of the Portugal-Ghana match, as well as goal differentials.

The USA vs. Germany match will air on Thursday, June 26 at noon on ESPN.

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