Sunday, June 22, 2014

2014 World Cup: USA-Portugal Draw

USA had it in the palm of their hands. A second straight win for the first time since the 1930 World Cup. Becoming the first team to qualify out of the Group of Death with a 2-1 victory. It was not to be, as in the final 30 seconds of the game, Michael Bradley lost the ball at midfield and soon an open Ronaldo sent it in to Varela for the goal on a sleeping US Defense and a 2-2 draw. Bradley should have booted the ball ahead, but mistakes happen...and they shouldn't have left Ronaldo open anyway.

When the World Cup groups were announced, US fans were hoping for a win over Ghana and a draw against Portugal to put them in good position. It has happened, as the USA are in good shape. But nobody is happy with a draw against Portugal after the way in which it happened after outplaying Portugal all game. A victory mere seconds away ended by some mistakes.

Portugal took the lead on another big mistake 5 minutes into the game when Geoff Cameron's clearance went sideways right to Nani. Something like that doesn't happen very often, but it did tonight. USA stormed back and dominated the game. Ronaldo was a non-factor, doing nothing (though he did dive well, as did Nani). Jermaine Jones tied the game with an outstanding rocker of a goal from distance, easily being one of the goals of the whole World Cup along with Tim Cahill's strike for Australia and the Van Persie header for the Netherlands. USA kept it up and eventually took the lead on a goal from Clint Dempsey, who scored with his belly button. Yes, his belly button.

The draw is a big buzzkill. They miss an opportunity to finish on top of the Group and avoid Belgium in the Knockout Round, as the group winner will likely face Russia or Algeria (South Korea is an outside shot). They also now have to recover from dropping a win. But, the US is still in good shape even though they face their toughest test in Germany. A draw sends them through in 2nd place. If the US loses to Germany, they still may qualify if Ghana and Portugal draw. If Portugal wins, they would most likely qualify based on Goal Differential, unless Portugal blows out Ghana or USA loses a blowout...both seem unlikely to happen. Now if Ghana wins it gets tricky, as Ghana doesn't have as much to make up. Let's not worry about that though. Go out there and get a big win or draw, then it won't matter.

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