Mastroeni's memories of facing Portugal at a World Cup

Rapids head coach talks of tackling Figo the last time the USA met Portugal on the world stage

This Sunday, the USA go up against Portugal (4 p.m MT) in their second match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. As things stand, there remain question marks over the fitness of Portugal's star player, Cristiano Ronaldo.

A win for Jurgen Klinsmann's men, to follow their dramatic 2-1 victory over Ghana last Monday, would see them emerge from the Group of Death and have them catapulted into the knockout stages.

Portugal are ranked number four in the world. Ahead of the World Cup, many assumed that they - along with Germany - would reach the last 16. But after the 4-0 thumping by Germany in the opening contest, Portugal's backs are well and truly against the wall.

This is not the first time that the USA will have faced Portugal at a World Cup. The two nations met previously at the 2002 edition, when co-hosted by Japan and South Korea. Portugal began as firm favorites, but were undone by an inspired USA, which raced into a 3-0 lead inside 36 minutes, before Portugal pulled two goals back. The US held on for a famous 3-2 win.

That win was the first of the 2002 group stage and helped launch the USA on a run to the quarter-finals, where they would be narrowly defeated by Germany.

Rapids head coach, Pablo Mastroeni, was a part of the USA team on June 5, 2002, and his main role was to keep track of Luis Figo.

"I'd been watching him (Figo) on TV for quite some time, going 'this guy is pretty amazing'," Mastroeni recalled. "And in my naivety at the time, I remember going in on a tackle and him seeing this guy coming in from probably five yards away, he was able to step on the ball, pull it back and allow me to keep running on, and I thought 'man, this guy is pretty good.'

"But I just got back on my horse and kept fighting, but it was definitely an eye-opening experience for me."

Click on the video above to hear more of Mastroeni's memories from facing Portugal at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.