If the Americans beat Germany today, it would mark a shift in global soccer power. The Germans are heavy favorites. But that's only half the fight. Getting the American public more interested in the sport could be even harder. "Most of the United States knows we're playing in the World Cup," says coach Bruce Arena. "They wouldn't know we're playing the Germans. You laugh at that, [but] that's the truth."
The US team, riding its best World Cup performance in 72 years, says most of the pressure is on the Germans, a three-time champion at soccer's premier event and a team that has made a habit of beating up on the Americans.
But this US team knows it's on the verge of getting within a game of the previously unthinkable the World Cup final. If that happens, the players would surely become stars back home. "When you're three games away from being the best in the world, that's got to be incentive there," says forward Clint Mathis.
In contrast to the US, England began a 24-hour countdown yesterday for its team's World Cup quarterfinal match today against Brazil and things were getting crazier by the minute. Judges canceled Friday morning sittings and Prime Minister Tony Blair rearranged meetings at a European summit in Spain in order to watch the game.
Economists estimated that more than $1.5 billion could be lost in productivity today, and it was predicted that 4 million people would be late for work. More than 30 million people in England were expected to tune into the telecast of the match from Shizuoka, Japan.
World Cup Quarterfinals:
England vs. Brazil (ESPN, 2:30 a.m. EDT)
Germany vs. United States (ESPN, 7:30 a.m. EDT)
Spain vs. South Korea (ESPN2, 2:30 a.m. EDT)
Senegal vs. Turkey (ESPN, 7:30 a.m. EDT)