Russell Lewis

Russell Lewis is the Southern Bureau Chief for NPR News, a post he has held since 2006. Lewis focuses on the issues and news central to the Southeast — from Florida to Virginia to Texas, including West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma. In addition to developing and expanding NPR's coverage of the region, Lewis assigns and edits stories from station-based reporters and freelancers alike, working closely with local correspondents and public radio stations. He also spent a year in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, coordinating NPR's coverage of the rebuilding effort. He's currently based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Lewis began his public radio career in 1992 at NPR member station WUFT in Gainesville, Florida, where he was an executive news producer. He spent time at WSVH in Savannah, Georgia. Lewis also worked for Kansas Public Radio and reported on the state legislature. He spent six years on the West Coast, working at one of public radio's flagship stations: KPBS in San Diego where he was senior editor and a reporter. He most recently was assistant news director and talk-show host at WGCU in Fort Myers, Florida. He was a frequent contributor to NPR, specializing in military and business issues.

In his spare time, Lewis loves to cook, read, and ride his bicycle.

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.

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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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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.

Brazil's World Cup preparation endured some heavy criticism leading up to the games. Stadiums were still under construction, Internet connections were sketchy and transportation faced major challenges. A week into the tournament, NPR's Russell Lewis has traveled to three airports and three cities so far. He talks to Melissa Block about what has worked and what remains a challenge.

On Monday night, the U.S. soccer team accomplished a feat it failed to achieve in the past two World Cups: beat Ghana. With a 2-1 victory, the Americans position themselves well for the games to come.

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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