If you told U.S. fans, players, and coaches before the World Cup began that they’d have four points through two games, just about all of them would’ve taken it.
But when you’re so close to six points – so close to qualifying for the Knockout Stage out of this Group of Death – four points through two games doesn’t feel so good.
So, we’re all feeling a bit conflicted tonight, hours after the U.S. conceded on effectively the last play of the game to tie Portugal 2-2 in Manaus. The Americans were seconds away from clinching a spot in the Round of 16. Now, they have get a result against Germany on Thursday or get a favorable outcome from Thursday’s Ghana-Portugal match in order to advance.
Things didn’t start well for the U.S. on Sunday, with Portugal winger Nani taking advantage of a mistake from U.S. defender Geoff Cameron to put the European side ahead 1-0 in the fifth minute. Thankfully, the U.S. responded well to Nani’s opener, controlling possession, creating chances and eventually equalizing in the 63rd minute.
Jermaine Jones brought the U.S. level, collecting a loose corner kick outside the box on the left side, taking a touch toward the middle and rifling a curling effort inside the far post from 25 yards to make it 1-1.
The goal propelled the U.S. forward, with the Americans threatening to take the lead multiple times before Clint Dempsey finally put the Americans ahead in the 81st. The play began on the right side, with substitute Seattle Sounders player Deandre Yedlin rolling in a cross from the end line. Michael Bradley collected the ball in the middle, firing a shot that toward frame that deflected off a Portugal defender and bounced out to Graham Zusi in the left side of the box. Zusi had a clear look at goal, but elected to chip a cross into the middle, where an unmarked Dempsey finished it off with his stomach to put the U.S. up 2-1.
It looked like the Americans would hold on to the result and clinch a spot in the Knockout Round, but Portugal equalized right at the death, with Silvestre Varela heading home a wonderful cross from Cristiano Ronaldo with just 30 seconds left in stoppage to make it 2-2.
The result means the Americans have a bit of work left to do on Thursday against Germany in order to qualify for the Round of 16. The U.S. will go through with a win or a draw against Germany, regardless of the result in the Ghana-Portugal match. Should the U.S. lose to Germany on Thursday, they can still go through with a Ghana-Portugal draw. The U.S. could also advance should they lose and Ghana or Portugal win if the U.S. remain ahead of the winner of that match on goal differential.
Group G will be decided at 10 a.m. MT on Thursday, with the U.S. taking on Germany on ESPN and Ghana facing off with Portugal on ESPN2.