Epic USA Portugal match ends 2-2
Last second Portugal goal shocks Team USA as all eyes turn to the third and final group game vs Germany.Sunday afternoon’s match between the United States and Portugal had it all. The 2-2 thriller started and ended with two colossal mistakes from usually reliable U.S. players. A botched clearance from center-back Geoff Cameron and a costly turnover from midfielder Michael Bradley led to the two Portuguese goals scored by Nani and Varela, the first at the five minute mark, and the second in the agonizing final thirty seconds. What happened in between, however, must not be forgotten. Led by their captain and eventual second goal scorer, Clint Dempsey, Team USA responded well to going down 1-0 less than ten minutes in. Peppering the Portuguese net, the U.S. actually managed more shots in the first half than they were able to muster for the entirety of the Ghana game. It took until the 64th minute, however, to find the equalizer. Midfielder Jermaine Jones fired a screamer into the Portuguese net that left goalie, Beto, standing still. After a great team buildup, Clint Dempsey was able to find the back of the net in the 81st minute. Team USA had miraculously taken the lead over heavily favored Portugal with less than ten minutes remaining (plus stoppage time). If Team USA could hold on, they would have enough points to advance out of the so-called "group of death". What followed next would be the longest fifteen minutes of any U.S. soccer fan’s life. With less than forty seconds remaining disaster struck as Ronaldo got loose and delivered the pass of the game leading to a Varela diving header. The goal shocked the U.S. players and U.S. fans because until then, Team USA had been able to contain the best player in the world (Ronaldo) for a majority of the match. It proved to be the last play of the contest and the epic match ended 2-2. As shocking and disappointing as the tie was, all was not lost. Sitting at four points (1 win & 1 draw) the USA can still advance out of the group if they win or tie their third and final group game versus Germany. Getting a good result from that game will be easier said than done. The Germans boast one of the stronger teams in the world and many world class players. Additionally, Team USA can still advance even with a loss. While the scenarios may seem complicated if the U.S. were to lose, it would boil down to the tie-breakers (goal differential, then goals scored. then head to head) between the U.S., Ghana and Portugal. It’s simple. Win or tie vs Germany and the U.S. moves on to the knockout state. Lose and hope that Ghana or Portugal don’t score enough goals in their game to surpass the USA's goal differential. For instance, if the U.S. lose by one goal, Ghana would need to win by two goals or be involved in a higher-scoring one-goal win. Are you lost yet? Regardless of what Team USA does, if Ghana and Portugal play to a draw, the U.S. will advance. Tense times lie ahead but Gold Coast Tickets is behind Team USA every step of the way. Let’s go Team USA!!
Photo Source: Paulo Duarte-AP