Sunday, June 22, 2014

United States of America 2 - Portugal 2

Photo by Dennis Grombkowski
Manaus was the site of the final group stage match between teams having made only one appearance at Brasil 2014. United States of America were seeking a win to send them into the knockout stages. Portugal were seeking points in order to avoid being eliminated. Portugal took a lead on a play that really should not have gone their way. American centerback Geoff Cameron completely muffed an attempted clearance. Rather than sending the ball upfield, the ball traveled across his own box to a grateful Nani. To his credit, Nani was cool and composed as he capitalized upon the gift to put the Portuguese ahead 1-0. From then on, the United States appeared to be in control of the match. Amrican captain Clint Dempsey (pictured, white) was the danger man, but he was only able to manufacture a couple shots from very obtuse angles, leading to simple enough positioning-based saves from Portugal goalkeeper Beto. In a telling moment midway through the half, Portugal were defending with all eleven players in their half of the pitch. In the final five minutes, Nani was having some joy in attack. He struck a shot that United States goalkeeper Tim Howard had to answer with a save. In the final minute, Nani unleashed a drive that somehow scraped through Howard's hands. Luckily for Howard, the ball caromed off his post. Portugal forward Eder shot off the rebound, but Howard managed to push the ball over his crossbar as he was losing his balance. Portugal made it to halftime with a 1-0 lead.

The Americans came out with renewed vigor for the second period. America right back Fabian Johnson made yet another run up the pitch, and this time he was rewarded with the ball. Johnson slipped into the box and drew Beto off his line, Johnson passed around him to Michael Bradley for what appeared to be a simple finish. However, Bradley did not angle the ball to the vacant part of the net, and Ricardo Costa (pictured, burgundy #13) made a fantastic knee save off the line to cover for his goalkeeper. United States got the goal they fully deserved off a half-clearance by Portugal from an American corner kick. Jermaine Jones gathered the ball, took a touch, and shot a ball into the side netting from twenty-seven yards to level that match at 1-1. Alejandro Bedoya had a golden opportunity to send in a cross from the right side to find an open American teammate at the far post, but his ball sailed on him. With under ten minutes left in regulation, the Yanks turned a half-chance into a full goal. Bradley had his shot blocked, but Graham Zusi gathered the rebound. He sent a calm chip into the path of Dempsey, who beat the offside line and chested the ball across the line for a 2-1 advantage. The lead looked like it was going to hold up as the Americans were defending in numbers, but a beautiful cross from Cristiano Ronaldo found the head of a streaking Silvestre Varela, who ran behind Cameron and powered a massive header from six yards away to equalize the match at the death. The match ends in a 2-2 draw that does nothing to enhance Portugal's chances of survival.

Germany 4 pts +4
USA 4 pts +1
Ghana 1 pts -1
Portugal 1 pts -4

Nani 5
Silvestre Varela 90+5

United States of America
Jermaine Jones 64
Clint Dempsey 81

Match Reports:


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