U.S. Surrenders Lead Late, Settles for Draw
The U.S. played another tough back and forth battle yesterday as they took on Portugal in the second of three games in Group G play. After Germany only managed a draw against Ghana on Saturday, the United States was poised to clinch a berth in the round of 16 as well as lock down the top spot in Group G with a win over Portugal.
Portugal got on the board first when Nani scored in just the 5th minute. They took the lead into the half before Jermaine Jones put in the equalizer in the 64th minute once again off a cross from Graham Zusi. Clint Dempsey scored in the 81st minute to give the Americans the lead and it looked as if the United States was going to punch their ticket into the next round.
After the match referees put 5 minutes of extra time on the clock at the end of the game the United States side was trying merely to run the clock out anyway possible. Michael Bradley held the ball at midfield deep in the 94th minute when he turned it over and the ball was quickly sent to Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo along the right wing. He quickly sent a cross in and it was headed in by Varela for the game tying goal just before the final whistle blew.
Going into the game, Portugal was a perfect 11-0 in International competition when they scored first and held the lead at the half. The record remains intact as they came back to manage a 2-2 draw with the American side. As a result no team in Group G has qualified for the next round, while at the same time no team has been eliminated. Germany and the U.S. play each other Thursday as do Portugal and Ghana and the qualification process for the United States in pretty simple.
A win or tie against Germany and the U.S. (as well as the Germans) advance to the round of 16 where the United States would likely take on Belgium. If the U.S. lose to Germany on Thursday the qualification process gets a little more complicated but is still possible. A U.S. loss coupled with a draw from Ghana and Portugal would allow the United States to advance with 4 points. If the United States lose and either Ghana or Portugal win, the U.S. will have to hope that they will be able to advance on a goal differential tie breaker.
No matter what way you look at it, Thursday at 12 noon will be a huge day for the U.S. National team and American soccer fans as they look to keep their 2014 World Cup alive.