July 1st, 2014
11:05 AM ET

Cue the Music - It's the Final Countdown: #USAvsBEL

The anticipation for today's World Cup match-up of Team USA against Belgium has reached fever pitch.

American soccer hysteria has proven trans-Atlantic. CNN's Chris Cuomo caught these supporters chanting and cheering Monday night.

Yet the mood will become decidedly more serious come 4 pm ET Tuesday, when the USA-Belgium match kicks off and only the winner will advance.

With star striker Jozy Altidore slated to return, the U.S. team is cautiously optimistic that it can defeat the Belgians.

And Cuomo chatted with Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl to discuss potential factors that could boost or stymie Team USA's success.

Will the nationality and spoken language of the referee make a difference?

Likely not, Wahl said, noting that the Algerian referee assigned to Tuesday's match may have French in common with the Belgians, but has officiated two "very good games" so far during this World Cup.

"I think Jurgen Klinsmann is playing some mind games here," Wahl said, referring to the U.S. coach's apparent dissatisfaction about the referee assignment.

Will Ramadan, the holy month during which Muslims fast during the day, play a factor?

Negative, Wahl predicted. He said Belgium's Muslim players are not strictly observing Ramadan at this point in the tournament.

Regardless of the match's outcome, one fact is glaringly clear: soccer is more popular than ever.

"These are the biggest television audiences we've ever seen in the United States for soccer," Wahl said.


See photos from Chris' World Cup adventures below:

cuomo on luggage

Chris waits for his flight from Rio to Salvador, the location of Tuesday's USA-Belgium match. "This is the 'glamorous' side of the business," he writes.

cuomo griff in car

Producer John Griffin, Chris and their local guide Tais heading to Fan Fest in Salvador, Brazil.

Chris strikes a tough pose with "Teddy Goalsevelt."

chris stadium world cup

Salvador's soccer stadium at dawn on Tuesday, "where the run to the cup begins or ends," Chris writes.

chris muscle

Tickets to the World Cup or to the gun show? "AmeriCAN muscle," Chris says.

Producer John Griffin shares this picture of his ticket for Tuesday's game.

Producer John Griffin shares this picture of his ticket for Tuesday's game.

For the latest updates and more pictures, follow Chris and his producer, John Griffin, as they travel through Brazil.


RELATED: U.S. vs. Belgium preview: There's no room for error now

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