In sweltering heat on Sunday, the USA tormented FIFA-ranked No. 4 Portugal to a 2-2 draw in its second Group game at World Cup in Arena Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil for a passionate crowd of 40,123. With the result, the USA remain second behind Germany in Group G, trailed by Ghana and Portugal, and will look to advance to the Round of 16 when the squad face Germany on Thursday, June 26.
The USA came back from an early one-goal deficit to dominate Portugal 2-1 in the second half with a pair of goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey, who played with a broken nose sustained in the Ghana match. But reigning Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo created a heartbreaking late stoppage time equalizer, finished by Silvestre Varela.
“It was a thriller, a real exciting match," said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "I think everybody who had the chance to be today in Manaus will talk about this game for a long time."
The USA is now tied atop Group G with Germany at four points each, but Germany holds the tiebreaker based on goal differential. If the USA can beat Germany, they'll win the group title, but if they draw they'll still advance into the Top 16. If they lose, their future depends on the outcome of Ghana’s match with Portugal. If Ghana and Portugal draw, the USA advances. If there is a winner in that game, however, then goal differential and goals scored will determine the top two Group G winners.
TEAMS____ MP W D L GF GA Pts
GERMANY_ 2 1 1 0 6 2 4
USA________ 2 1 1 0 4 3 4
GHANA_____2 0 1 1 3 4 1
PORTUGAL_2 0 1 1 2 6 1
The USA is well-positioned going into the Germany match with only one player, Jones, cautioned, although Germany has picked up no yellow cards. Another caution for Jones during group stage through quarterfinals would result in one-game suspension. Players with only one caution through the conclusion of the quarterfinal stage have that card cleared from his record heading into the semifinals.
Klinsmann's 4-5-1 starting line-up versus Portugal featured goalkeeper Tim Howard and the same back line from the Ghana match: left back DaMarcus Beasley, right back Fabian Johnson and center backs Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler. The USA's midfield included holding midfielders Jones and Kyle Beckerman, with Graham Zusi on the left, Alejandro Bedoya on the right and Michael Bradley in the center. Dempsey played up front and wore the captain's armband. Bradley's performance improved from his surprisingly sloppy game against Ghana, but still was not up to his usual excellence.
Nani put Portugal ahead 1-0 with an unassisted goal in just the 5th minute, when defender Geoff Cameron failed to clear the ball. But the deficit seemed to strengthen the United States' resolve and tactical precision, who increasingly threatened Portugal's back line and stymied Ronaldo's attacking attempts. Jones equalized for the USA in the 64th minute with a blazing 27-yard shot into the side netting past Portugal goalkeeper Beto. In the 72nd minute, Klinsman responded to Portugal's pressure by fortifying the midfield by replacing Bedoya with young outside back DeAndre Yedlin for his World Cup debut.
Dempsey, assisted by Zusi after a blazing run by Yedlin, put the USA ahead 2-1 in the 81st minute by stuffing the ball into the net with his gut to finish in the crowded box. It was Dempsey second goal in this FIFA World Cup and his fourth in tournament history. Six minutes later, Chris Wondolowski replaced Dempsey to earn his first World Cup minutes. Klinsmann used his final substitution by replacing defender Omar Gonzalez for Zusi. The USA fell back to defend and kill time, but the reigning Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo made his best play of the game 30 seconds before the final whistle with a world class cross finished with a close header by Varela for the final 2-2 result.
The USA is now 32-11-9 all-time under German coach Klinsmann, who will seek to defeat his own national team this Thursday.
“I don’t think we are made for draws, except if it happens like tonight – a late goal in the last seconds," said Klinsmann. "I think both [the USA and Germany] want to win the group. We want to go into this game, recover fast and go at Germany, get three points and have seven points on our side and be in the driver’s seat for the Round of 16. That is our goal."
The USA faces Germany in the third and final game of Group G play at the 2014 FIFA World Cup at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 26, at Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil. The game will be broadcast on ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision and ESPN Radio
POR -- Nani 5th minute
USA -- Jermaine Jones 64
USA -- Clint Dempsey (Graham Zusi) 81
POR -- Silvestre Varela (Cristiano Ronaldo) 90+5
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 23-Fabian Johnson, 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 15-Kyle Beckerman, 13-Jermaine Jones; 11-Alejandro Bedoya (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 72), 4- Michael Bradley, 19- Graham Zusi (3-Omar Gonzalez, 90+1); 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.) (18-Chris Wondolowski, 87)
Subs Not Used: 6-John Brooks, 10-Mix Diskerud, 12-Brad Guzan, 14-Brad Davis, 16-Julian Green, 21-Timmy Chandler, 22-Nick Rimando, 23-Aron Johannsson
Not Available: 17-Jozy Altidore
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
POR: 22-Beto; 2-Bruno Alves, 13-Ricardo Costa, 19-Andre Almeida (6-William Carvalho, 46), 21-Joao Pereira; 4-Miguel Veloso, 8-Joao Moutinho, 16-Raul Meireles (18-Silvestre Varela, 69); 7-Cristiano Ronaldo (capt.), 17-Nani, 23-Heider Postiga (11-Eder, 16)
Subs not used: 1-Eduardo; 9-Hugo Almeida, 10-Vierinha, 12-Rui Patricio, 14-Luis Neto, 15-Rafa Silva, 20-Ruben Amorim
Not Available: 3-Pepe (suspended), 5-Fabio Coentrao, 9-Hugo Almeida, 12-Rui Patricio
Head Coach: Paulo Bento
Stats Summary: USA / POR
Shots: 15 / 21
Shots on Goal: 5 / 7
Saves: 5 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 4
Fouls: 11 / 14
Offside: 1 / 4
USA -- Jermaine Jones (caution) 75th minute
Referee: Nestor Pitana (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Hernan Maidana (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Pablo Belatti (ARG)
Fourth Official: Walter Lopez (GUA)