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Russell Lewis

The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team showed why it's the top-ranked squad in the world. It won the CONCACAF tournament Sunday with a near-perfect 6-0 final game against Costa Rica.

The U.S. has had an easy run during this World Cup qualifying tournament for the North American, Central American and Caribbean Region. The United States had already qualified for next year's World Cup with a victory in the semifinals against Haiti. Sunday's win over Costa Rica further cemented the U.S. dominance.

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The United States will have a presence at today's semifinal World Cup match between Brazil and Germany. It won't be the U.S. National Team on the field, but American referee Mark Geiger. FIFA selected Geiger to be on the officiating crew of the high-stakes match. It's the first time a U.S. referee has been used this late in a World Cup.

The stadiums of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are all different, constructed to reflect the region. Natal's arena has a wavy beach-dune style, while the stadium in Manaus looks like a woven basket.

Inside those stadiums, however, you'd never know you're in Brazil. Budweiser is an official beer seller, and Coke has the soda market cornered. Other menu items include hot dogs, cheeseburgers and turkey sandwiches. It's almost impossible to find any Brazilian fare on the menu.

Win or go home. Do or die. Lose and you're done. Choose your sports cliche, and for the United States team, it's true. The U.S. takes on Belgium at 4 p.m. EDT today in Salvador, Brazil. It's the Americans' first game in the knockout stage. The victor moves on to the quarterfinals, and the loser books a flight home.

It's do or die (or tie) time for the United States today in the World Cup.

The U.S. team plays its final game in group play against world No. 2-ranked Germany at noon EDT in the Brazilian seaside city of Recife. The stakes couldn't be higher, and the intrigue is all here, folks.

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The World Cup round of 16 in Brazil is taking shape.

Already in: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and the Netherlands. The big question: Will the United States join that distinguished list today?

The U.S. soccer team has a tough matchup against Portugal. Win, and the Americans are in. Lose or tie, and the road gets a lot tougher with next Thursday's game against Germany.

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We go now to the World Cup in Brazil where tonight this was the sound of raw American jubilation.

(CHEERING)

It's day five of the World Cup in Brazil. But it's the most important day for the U.S. men's soccer team — it's game day.

Tonight at 6 p.m. ET, the U.S. opens World Cup play squaring off against Ghana in the seaside city of Natal. The tiny African country is not particularly a soccer powerhouse. But Ghana has vexed the U.S. — eliminating the team from the past two World Cups.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

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And I'm Robert Siegel.

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Even today, it can be difficult to talk about what happened and why it happened. In Alabama, educators and other people are using this anniversary to try to make civil rights relevant to a younger generation, as NPR's Russell Lewis reports.

Tyler Saladino is one of thousands of minor league baseball players hoping to make it to the major leagues. He plays in Alabama for the Birmingham Barons, the AA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Last year, NPR profiled Saladino. But since then, maybe things have changed for the 23-year-old infielder.

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Now let's come back to the United States for this next story, because over the past few years, more than a dozen American airports - big and small - have renovated or added new terminals. The latest in Birmingham, Alabama opens today.

In Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, the "Last Great Race on Earth" begins.

Sixty-seven sled dog teams will start the 998-mile Iditarod race across the barren, frigid and unforgiving land. In this year's competition, there are a handful of first-time racers — but those aren't the only rookies.

One is veterinarian Greg Reppas, whose job is to ensure the dogs are healthy throughout the race.

Her name was Emilie Parker. Six years old. Long, flowing blond hair, piercing blue eyes and a sweet smile. Emilie was one of the 20 children killed on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As we learn the names of the victims, we're also learning their stories.

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