JOHANNESBURG - It's always nice to know where you stand.
The United States plays Algeria in its final group game. If it wins Wednesday in Pretoria, it moves to the second round. There's nothing like controlling your own destiny.
The United States has two points in the group, tied with England. Slovenia heads the group with four while Algeria has one.
Win and move on. Tie and then the result between Slovenia and England comes into play.
Lose and it doesn't matter what anyone else does, the Americans go home. The American have to be thrilled with being in that position.
Against Slovenia, the Americans were down 2-0 and needed a late goal to tie.
They had in fact scored a winner that was incorrectly waved off by referee Koman Coulibaly. His punishment for the mistake is not doing any more games in this World Cup.
The Americans' punishment for his mistake is having to win this game when a draw would have been enough. But the Americans are known for taking controversy and using it as motivation. Nothing drives an American team harder than knowing it has been hard done by.
"I think we've all been pretty well informed as to response back home via text, e-mail, phone calls, Facebook, Internet," American forward Landon Donovan said.
"In some ways, it's really heartening to see how much people care. And the one thing we do know is that Wednesday night, or Wednesday morning in the States, is going to be a really big occasion and we relish that because we don't get that very often. We know people are talking about it and people care."
Getting to the next round would do wonders for the United States soccer profile. They will likely play a high profile opponent. It might even be Germany, a team that knocked the Americans out in 2002 only after the referee failed to acknowledge a German handball that would have tied the game.
While the Americans would love to get an early goal, this is an Algerian team that played good enough defence against England to steal a 0-0 draw.
American forward Clint Dempsey expects Algeria to play the same way against the United States as it did against England.
"Initially, it's going to be a game that's going to be tight," Dempsey said.
"And then as the game goes on, seeing how things go, it's going to have to open up, no matter what. People are going to start taking risks because we know that pretty much a draw is not going to get you through."
Wide open is how the United States was forced to play against Slovenia when it went down 2-0 and it made for perhaps the best game in the tournament so far.
Considering what's at stake in this one, the game promises to provide the same kind of flare.