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World Cup

This asinine World Cup headbutt could save the U.S. from early elimination

This asinine World Cup headbutt could save the U.S. from early elimination

Portugal defender Pepe got himself booted from Monday's World Cup matchup with Germany for a boneheaded headbutt— and his shenanigans may get Portugal booted from the tournament, too.

Here's the play that earned Pepe a red card:

The U.S. wound up with a terrible draw for the World Cup, stuck in the Group of Death alongside powerhouses Germany and Portugal as well as nemesis Ghana. Only two of the four teams advance, meaning the U.S. needed an exceptional run to escape into the second round.

A reasonable path for Team USA would go something like this: Germany destroys Portugal, the U.S. beats Ghana and ties Portugal — but loses a close one to Germany. In that scenario, the U.S. would edge Portugal in the standings on goal differential, sending them on to the knockout stage.

Germany was thumping Portugal when Pepe got sent off, and Pepe will now have to sit out his team's next game — a game, coincidentally, against the U.S. If the Americans can hold their own and take advantage of a Pepe-less Portuguese team on Sunday, they'll be in line to advance.