DOHA, Qatar—From the moment the U.S. learned its draw in this World Cup nearly eight months ago, there was immediate and breathless hype focused on a single game scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, the Americans would get to test themselves against one of the top soccer nations in the world, a team that just happens to be the model for how the U.S. dreams of playing. 

Now the U.S. is finally set to play England for the third time in World Cup history. And the stakes for what may be the most heated clash since Bunker Hill are as high as anyone could have imagined: a spot in the knockout round, the prospect of national humiliation for England, and the Americans’ best chance in years to measure their progress on the global stage.