Sunday, June 22, 2014

Late Equalizer Denies USA Advancement for Now

The US men's national team was about 30 seconds away from a historic win over Portugal that would have seen the Yanks advance to the round of 16. But a cross by Cristiano Ronaldo was headed in by Silvestre Varela in the 5th minute of stoppage  leveled the score as each team settled for a point.

Unlike the game against Ghana, the US were the ones that had to fight from behind. In just the fifth minute a poor clearance by Geoff Cameron went into the path of Nani who got Tim Howard to go to ground and then fired a shot into the roof of the net. The early going of the game was controlled by the Portuguese, but as the half progressed, the US started to create some chances. They were unable to find an equalizer though and then needed a big save by Howard late in the half to keep it from becoming 2-0. After a shot by Nani hit the post, the rebound was put on goal, but Howard was able to get enough off the ground to tip the ball over the bar to keep the score 1-0.

The US continued the second half looking for a goal, picking up where they left off. Michael Bradley was denied by a goal line clearance after the Portuguese goalkeeper came off his line. As the game continued, a goal for the US felt like it was coming and in the 64th the US leveled. A Graham Zusi corner was partially cleared into the path of Jermaine Jones. The German-American cut inside his defender and curled a shot that went just inside the corner leveling the game at 1-1. After the goal both teams had their chances, but it was the US in the 81st that looked like they may have won it. A cross from DeAndre Yedlin for Clint Dempsey was knocked away to Bradley. Bradley fired a shot, but his shot was deflected into the path of Graham Zusi. With space to the left of goal, instead of shooting the SKC midfielder curled a little cross into the middle of the box where Dempsey knocked the ball home giving the US a 2-1 lead. The US from there was mainly on the defensive as Portugal threw numbers forward looking for the equalizer to keep their World Cup hopes alive. The US defense held out until late in stoppage time. After a give away from Bradley in midfield the ball made it wide to Ronaldo on the USA's left. Damarcus Beasley didn't get out fast enough to close him down and Ronaldo's cross was inch perfect for Varela to beat Howard and split the points.

The draw means US goes into their finale against Germany needing a result to guarantee passage to the round of 16. A win or a draw would see the US through. A loss and the US is scoreboard watching hoping the Portugal-Ghana game does not have a big winner.

As for Sporting KC's Zusi and Matt Besler, they became the first MLS teammates to both start a World Cup game since the 1998 World Cup, 16 years ago. Zusi did not have an impressive outing, but was critical in both US goals, playing in the corner that led to Jones' goal, and providing his second assist of the tournament to Dempsey for the USA's second. Besler was a rock in the back for the US, reading the game extremely well, cutting out passes and playing the way that KC fans have come to expect him to. Really there was nothing that he could have done on either of the goals the US conceded.


phillip said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.