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October 24, 2014
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US confident it can stop Cristiano Ronaldo

US'' Clint Dempsey (c) and Julian Green (l) train.

SAO PAULO — Just after he was cut from the US roster last month, right back Brad Evans posted this snarky tweet: “You got off easy this time (at) Cristiano.”

The US is confident its defensive depth can stop the two-time world player of the year when it plays Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal tonight in a Group G match in the Amazon rain forest capital of Manaus.

“He’s a complete player,” midfielder Michael Bradley said yesterday. “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. And then when you talk about his technical ability — the way he shoots with his right foot, his left foot, how good in the air he is — he’s somebody who can make the difference at any moment.”

Coming off a 2-1 opening win over Ghana, the US could possibly clinch advancement with a win and would put itself in an 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.

For six months, US coach Jürgen Klinsmann has been talking about how his first priority was the US opener against Ghana and his second was to “go to beautiful Manaus and expect Mr. Ronaldo.”

In Rio de Janeiro, just working out on the grass of Maracanã was sheer happiness for Vincent Kompany yesterday, especially after a groin strain had kept the Belgian captain out for three days. Now, he says he’s fit to fulfill his childhood dream of playing a World Cup match in one of the world’s most famous stadiums.

Making things even better is the fact that a win against Russia today would put the World Cup into the knockout phase after just two games.

Russia coach Fabio Capello will give goalkeeper No. 1 Igor Akinfeev an opportunity to redeem himself after his glaring error gifted South Korea a goal in the Russians’ Group H opener. In another game today, South Korea plays against Algeria.

AP

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