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Loss To Costa Rica not too much of a concern for U.S.

International Soccer

The 12-match winning streak finally came to an end. And by an end, I mean a screeching halt. The United States fell hard to Costa Rica 3-1 in San Jose, Costa Rica and brought the Americans down to earth for the first time since the start of the year. The U.S. was never in the game and it sets them back a bit in World Cup qualifying. But there's absolutely no reason to press the panic button just yet for this team.

U.S. Soccer should be confident going into World Cup

International Soccer

There's a lot working against the U.S. going into the World Cup in Brazil. For starters, they were drawn into the proverbial "Group of Death" for the tournament back in December. In order to get to the knockout round, the U.S. is going to have to be the top two out of Germany, Portugal and Ghana--a perennial nemesis for the Yanks. And also, the past two international friendlies haven't exactly been stellar showings from the team either. The U.S. lost 2-0 to Ukraine in a match that was moved to Cyprus because of the unrest in Ukraine and then blew a 2-0 lead against Mexico and ended up with a rather disappointed 2-2 draw. But there's also a lot of positives going into the World Cup this year.

Previewing the World Cup field

International Soccer

This World Cup is increasingly interesting because there's no clear cut, head above anyone else favorite. There are roughly four or five teams that have a very realistic chance of winning it all with a few others that could play spoilers. The intrigue will only get bigger and better as the competition rolls on. With so much to look forward to over the next month, here's a preview of what to expect from each of the 32 countries competing in the World Cup and how the knockout rounds might shape up.

U.S. has to survive injuries, heat, Portugal to put themselves in great position to advance

International Soccer

Three points. One win. That's all that separates the U.S. national team and getting to the Round of 16 out of the proverbial "Group of Death". It's all that separates them from something no one outside of the country could have ever predicted when the World Cup draw was held in December.

One point separates U.S. from knockout round

International Soccer

On Sunday it was three points. Today it's one point. That's all that separates the United States from a spot in the knockout round of the World Cup, an impressive feat considering they were drawn into the proverbial "Group of Death". But as it was against Portugal, accomplishing this feat will be no small task against a German side that might be the first European country to win the tournament in South America.

World Cup knockout round could be wilder than group stage

International Soccer

Forty-eight matches have been played. There have been 133 goals scored. Sixteen teams remain in Brazil while the other 16 are headed back to their respective countries. To say that the group stage of the World Cup was crazy might be the understatement of the year. Right off the bat, with Croatia taking an early 1-0 lead in the first match of the tournament, followed by the Netherlands destroying Spain, everyone knew that this tournament was going to be different.

U.S. loses battle, wins war in advancing to knockout round

International Soccer

The U.S. need just one point in their match against Germany Thursday to advance to the knockout round. That point never came. But thanks to Portugal beating Ghana 2-1 at the same time, the United States are headed to the round of 16 and a date with Belgium to decide who's advancing to the quarterfinals. And as one ESPN commentator said, "the U.S. lost battle, but won the war."

FIFA light on Luis Suarez, still step in right direction

International Soccer

Apparently, Luis Suarez didn't have enough to eat before the match or during half time against Italy in the final match of the group stage last Tuesday. I know, I know, it's a joke that's been made a thousand times since Suarez decided to bite Giorgio Chiellini with under 20 minutes left to go in the match, but it's still too good and too bizarre to past up. But FIFA didn't find the incident funny, suspending Suarez for nine Uruguay international matches and four months from any football activity.