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By the Numbers: The United States outplayed Portugal in 2-2 draw

Jun 22, 2014, 10:44 PM EDT

USMNT Getty Images

Unfortunately performances don’t earn points in soccer, goals do.

Despite that, there is plenty to take away from this match to give United States fans hope that they can not only get a result against Germany, but make noise in the knockout rounds as well, should they make it that far.

It’s time to take a breakdown of the important numbers and charts from the 2-2 draw between the United States and Portugal, and analyze what they tell us about the performance.

The United States owned the meat of the match

One thing the players will surely learn from this match is that all 90 (or 95) minutes count equally. But a positive this team will take is that they went toe-to-toe with the #4-ranked team in the world for most of the game.

Portugal was obviously the better team in the opening stage and threw everyone forward in the final 10 looking for the equalizer – which they got.  But during the bulk of the match, the US was on top.

From the 10th minute to the 80th minute, the United States outpassed Portugal 346-324.  The US nearly equaled Portugal in final-third passes during that span as well, 62-77, but a closer look shows a nearly-equal 41-43 total of forward passes in the final third.

Michael Bradley tired late

Aside from the fact it was painfully obvious to see, the numbers tell us how Michael Bradley – who actually had a pretty good game – became exhausted in the final minutes of the match.

Bradley received 64 passes from his teammates throughout the game – but just 13 of those came in the final half-hour of the game (20%).  He completed 60 passes on the night, but just 18 in the final half-hour of the game.

He had his hands on his hips throughout the final 10 minutes of the match, looking more like a statue than a midfielder, and it likely led to his criminal giveaway that led to the Portuguese equalizer.  It’s no surprise that players were sapped of energy by the heat and humidity of Manaus, but it’s a bit surprising that the most fit player on the US by all accounts is the one who caved.

Matt Besler played an outstanding match at the back

Defensive mistakes marred the beginning and end of the night for the United States, but at the same time, Matt Besler was a rock at the back.

Most importantly, he made 12 clearances on the night, while nobody else on the United States had more than five. He completed 44 of 47 passes out of the back, refusing to make a mistake when a number of those in front of him were a bit sloppy. He thrust his body to full-stretch to complete a late interception to prevent a counter-attack, one of his five interceptions in the match – more than any US player. He had four ball recoveries, third on the team.

On a night where Geoff Cameron made mistakes and the midfield in front of him was strong but sloppy, Besler was a brick wall and his presence will be important for the US going forward.

The US defense needs to close down spaces

A surprising number popped up after the US failed to secure three points against Portugal. They have faced 42 shots over their first two matches, more than any other team in the entire World Cup.

While that doesn’t say a whole lot given that just 10 of those 42 were on target, it still means teams are getting spaces and chances where they feel comfortable ripping one off on goal. Tim Howard played a career match tonight, but if a team like Germany gets 21 looks on goal, you can bet it won’t go well for the Stars and Stripes.

If Jermaine Jones cleans up his passing, he can be a complete midfielder

Jermaine Jones was many US fan’s Man of the Match against Portugal, and he was stellar as a midfield anchor. He is solid on the ball, beating players with the dribble and with the pass.

The 32-year-old, often criticized during World Cup qualifying for his erratic play and poor disciplinary record, has by far been the most consistent and solid player on the US roster through both World Cup games. Against Portugal, he intercepted three passes, picked up three loose balls, won both aerial duels, and – most surprisingly – completed four of his five take-ons, some of which began US attacking sequences and sliced open spaces for American attackers to exploit.

The only knock on Jones’ game against Portugal is his passing decision-making. Take a look at his passing chart:


Photo credit: FourFourTwo













36-of-47 passing, a poor 77%, is also marred by giveaways in the center of the pitch.  You can count six passes to the middle of the field that missed their mark, three of which happened in the defensive half of the field, and those are dangerous.

If Jones can clean up that split-second decision-making in the middle of the field, he can be one of the best midfielders the US has seen in World Cup play. They’ll need him for all 90 minutes against Germany without a doubt, and they’ll need him to bring everything he brought against Portugal, plus a better passing dish.

  1. herogoesallin - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    please kyle, we all know already that you are not an soccer expert.

  2. argas1 - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    How again did they outplay Portugal? The US have developed a fairly decent team but it should have lost against Ghana and did not deserve more than a tie against Portugal. All of a sudden it seems they are candidates to win the World Cup… Every champion needs some luck, the US do have it but they don’t have the quality a champion needs. the US are just an slightly above average team. period.

    • jdfsquared - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:12 AM

      What game were you watching?

    • mlsconvert88888 - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      You mad bro?

  3. 950003cups - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    Tim Howard outplayed Portugal. The rest, not so much. Still that was en epic match. USA need not be ashamed of the tie. But the way it was tied, yes, they screwed up major.

    • scoochpooch - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      And Beto had the game of his life the first 60m of the match.
      Remember Portugal needed to win in a playoff to reach the World Cup, this is not the same team from 2006 or 2010.

  4. heelfans - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    Please do not use tiredness as an excuse for MB “in the last ten minutes” ! The entire midfield worked their a**es off–and they didn’t have the sub par game that MB had! These men are professionals, not some12 year old ! MB will come back but stop treating him like a little kid.

  5. jdfsquared - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:15 AM

    Would we all be saying MB had a “subpar” game were it not for the errant pass at the end? All my friends and I in the bar were talking about was how much better MB looked today than last week. Controlling possession up the middle, nicely weighted leads, creativity, pushing the ball into space. I know we’ve all seen him be brilliant, and he hasn’t quite shown that yet, but I’m stunned he’s becoming some sort of scape goat for today’s performance. He was crucial today, and will be again on Thursday.

  6. ajonesmc931 - Jun 23, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    Wow lot of criticism in here. Portugal was clearly out played and got lucky everyone else suck a D

    • don444 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:09 AM

      “Suck a D?” lol Yeah idiot, you’d know all about such things, huh?

  7. Professor Fate - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:00 AM

    What will it take for the team to show up at the start of games? Leading all countries in the dubious stat of giving up the most goals in WC in the first five minutes of games is maddening. Despite doing that again in allowing Portugal an early goal, the US fought back to take a one-goal lead into extra time and then managed to snatch a tie from the jaws of victory by allowing the latest goal in regulation time in WC history.

    They’ve blown it. Again. A golden opportunity to escape the group-of-death early, before facing Germany, and get on to the knock out round and they managed to screw it up. They won’t beat Germany, they’ll be lucky to manage a tie. That would mean hoping for a tie between Portugal and Ghana. If either team wins that match then the US is down to goal differential. All that angst and worry could have been avoided by playing as well at the beginning and the end as they did in the middle.

    • tridecagon - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:08 AM

      I’m not sure what you meant to say, but if we draw with Germany we’re in. A loss to Germany means hoping for a draw in Portugal-Ghana or hoping for the goal differential to break our way.

  8. don444 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:41 AM

    They outplayed Portugal overall and their current situation in Group G could be worse going into the third match, but surrendering a goal, victory and instant passage into the knockout rounds in the 95th minute (latest regulation goal in WC history) is an absolute MAJOR fail regardless of whether people want to try and ignore the obvious reality of that because it hurts.

  9. 950003cups - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:10 AM

    We gotta beat Germany. We have the tools to do it. It’s all about executing it fast.

    • don444 - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:05 AM

      Didn’t look like they had the tools to defeat the Germans as they were clearly outplayed, but hope springs eternal and folks and can still dream of a deep run although getting past both Belgium and then, most likely, Argentina, strikes me as unlikely at this point.

  10. frankiefablo - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Anyone watching the game that actually understands the sport would admit that the U.S. looked like the better team for the bulk of the match. The truth is that Portugal were lucky to escape with the tie. The reason for the consternation on the part of U.S. fans is how the game played out and ultimately ended. Had Portugal looked like the dominant team all game and the U.S. salvaged a tie late, we would have lost our minds in jubilation. Everyone expected the U.S. to get laughed out of Brazil. We played poorly and beat a strong Ghana side. Now we’re talking about how we “should have” beaten Portugal for crying out loud? Let’s try to keep this in perspective.

  11. misterdreamer119 - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    Anybody except Sweden can outplay Portugal. Ghana will prove that.

    • don444 - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM

      lol MORON, shows what you know (not much).

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