Today's World Cup matches feature the team that is nearest to all of our hearts, an underdog, a team of underrated players who together are greater than the sum of their parts: Switzerland. Wait, that isn't right. 'Merica! Today Team USA is back on the pitch, taking on Belgiums' surprising team of stars.
Switzerland does play today as well. Their opponents? Argentina's Leonel Messi and some other guys.
This is your all-purpose World Cup open thread. Drop in to make some predictions, talk about the games, or anything else World Cup related.
Argentina vs. Switzerland
Watch it on: ESPN
Kick off: 9:00 AM PT at Arena de Sao Paulo in Sap Paolo
Argentina may have been perfect in the group stage, going 3-0-0 over three games, but in each they were bailed out by the little wizard, Leo Messi. With a goal in each of Argentina's matches, two against Nigeria in their final match of the group stage, no player has been more important to his team's fortunes in this World Cup than Messi.
Facing off against the Argentinians are the Swiss, who came into this World Cup as one of the tournament's dark horse contenders. A remarkably young team with several impressive talents on the roster, the Swiss looked good against the lesser talents of Ecuador and Honduras, but were steamrolled 5-2 by France.
As with every other game featuring Argentina, this game rides entirely on the play of Messi. As goes Messi, so goes Argentina.
Belgium vs. United States
Watch it on: ESPN
Kick off: 1:00 PM PT at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador
This is the big one, folks. If the USMNT can get past Belgium here then they will be further into the World Cup than they have been since their miraculous 2002 run. The USA may have backed into their Round of 16 berth with a loss against Germany, but they did so playing hard nosed, effective defense and almost stealing a goal in the final minutes of the match. Hopefully the US will have been hardened by their experience coming out of the Group of Death and will be buoyed by the return of Jozy Altidore after he went out in their first game with a hamstring injury.
The Belgians? They did not particularly impress in the way that the soccer world thought they would during the group stages. Sure, they won their group handily, taking all nine points on offer, but with scorelines of 1-0, 1-0, and 2-1 it is hard to get excited about Belgium.
Despite that, Belgium are the clear favorites here and feature a roster full of stars from the top flight leagues of Europe. If the USA can keep this one close or push it to extra time then that will be something to be proud of. Still, it would be just the worst to be watching Costa Rica in the knockout rounds and not have the US be there as well.