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Late Portugal equalizer leaves United States with just one point after 2-2 draw

Jun 22, 2014, 8:11 PM EDT

Varela Getty Images

The United States was on the verge of securing a place in the knockout round, but a late header by Varela secured a point for Portugal and denied Jurgen Klinsmann all three points, leaving the US with a gut-wrenching feeling after a roller coaster ride in Manaus.

It appeared that Clint Dempsey had given the US a stunning victory with a goal in the 81st minute, but Portugal remained alive in the “Group of Death” by snatching back a point.

The match started with a gut-wrenching moment for the United States. Just five minutes into the game, Geoff Cameron went to make a routine clear on a ball into the box, but he flubbed it, and the ball fell right to Nani at the back post, and the Manchester United winger didn’t miss with a howitzer into the back of the net for an early Portugal lead.

The Seleção were strong in the early going, both before and after the goal, and the United States struggled to hold any sort of possession.

[ MORE: Man of the Match rankings | Talking points | How the U.S. can advance ]
[ MORE: Soccerly covers the World Cup ]

But the US held off any more danger from the opponents, and slowly built themselves into the game, proving the more dangerous side by the 15th minute.

It stayed that way for much of the first half, with the US coming close a number of times.

Clint Dempsey had the two early chances for the US on set pieces, first in the 13th minute on a free kick that he blazed just over the bar, and then on an 18th minute corner when the ball dropped to Dempsey on the back post and the striker looked to chip the keeper, just missing over the top again.

A pair of chances then fell to Michael Bradley, and he just missed as well. He struck one over in the 24th minute,and four minutes later skimmed a slow-roller wide, beating Beto the goalkeeper but beating the post as well.

Tim Howard was called upon as the half wore down, and performed admirably to keep the game at just 1-0. A pair of counter-attacks for Portugal proved dangerous, with Howard saving well off a Nani smash three minutes before the break.


Jermaine Jones‘s curling goal drew the United States back level to restore order after Portugal’s early lead.

He’d best that save two minutes later though, as another counter got Nani another shot, which he crashed into the post. The rebound found substitute Eder, who looked to loop the ball into the far corner, but Howard got up from his spot on the ground and tipped the ball wide acrobatically.

The second half began a tactical chess match, but the US had the first true chance 10 minutes after the break. Fabian Johnson bombed down the right flank, and brought the ball all the way to the end line before cutting it back brilliantly into the middle of the box, drawing Beto out in the process.

The ball came to Bradley, and with the goal gaping, he smashed his shot into the knee of Ricardo Costa who cleared off the line, breaking US hearts.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s bunch continued to ask questions of the Portuguese defense, and they got their breakthrough for their patience. A corner ping-ponged through the box before coming out to Jermaine Jones at the top of the key, and with nobody expecting him to shoot, he fired a strike that Beto never saw, and it nestled into the far corner for the equalizer.

As the country caught its breath, Portugal put on a response, with Raul Meireles and Nani bagging half-chances in the next five minutes. Portugal manager Paulo Bento, having already made an early injury change and a halftime sub, then used his final substitution in the 69th minute to pull Meireles for Varela, using all three of his changes before the US had used a single one.

Things shut down for a bit as the US looked to be on their heels a bit, but it would all fall to them in the final 10 minutes.

An attack down the right side through substitute DeAndre Yedlin proved fruitful. The 20-year-old burst all the way down the flank and to the end-line before cutting back into the box.  It bobbled to Bradley, who tried an off-balance shot, but he scuffed it and it fell to Zusi on the far side. The US winger cut the ball back into the middle, and Demspey crashed the box and chested it home for the 2-1 lead.

The Americans were forced to defend as the clock wound down, as Portugal looked to stave off elimination by throwing everything forward.  It went down to the last moment, and a cross from Cristiano Ronaldo found Varela for an open header, and he put it home on literally the last touch of the game.

With the point, the United States remains in second place in the group, level with Germany on points.  Portugal remains alive in the group with the draw, although they trail a qualifying spot by three points and own a -4 goal differential, five fewer than the US.


United States – Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley; Beckerman, Jones; Bedoya (Yedlin 72′), Bradley, Zusi (Gonzalez 90+1′); Dempsey (Wondolowski 87′).

Goals: Jones 64′, Dempsey 81′

Portugal – Beto; Bruno Alves, Pereira, A. Almeida (William 46′), Costa; Veloso, Meireles (Varela 69′), Mourinho; Nani, Ronaldo, Postiga (Eder 16′).

Goals: Nani 5′, Varely 90+5′

  1. hartfordhellions4ever - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    Credit to Portugal for leveling the match. Be great if Cameron was made to walk back to the training grounds after that stinker.

    • mazblast - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:30 PM

      Credit to the USA for leveling the match in the first place, too.

  2. dwighthowardssmallhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    Maybe one of these days teams will keep playing the whole time, instead of trying to hang on and only defend for 5 minutes.

    Happens all the time in football/hockey/soccer. Happened to the us in hockey vs canada this year in the Olympics is a good example.

  3. rupp246 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    When you play to lose (or tie in this case) that’s what happens. The US just kept giving the ball back to Portugal again and again. Howard kicks the ball out of bounds twice, then he just kicks it back to Portugal. There was no effort to keep the ball. What Bradley was thinking when he gave it up with less than a minute to go, I have no idea. Games like this shows why the US is still so far away from the elite of the soccer world. Also, I wish these idiot announcers would stop calling the game until the game is over. It happens over and over, I wish they would just shut up, and let the game finish.

  4. navyeoddavee9 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    Dempsey’s looked offside, on the go ahead goal? So all in all, probably a fair result, US still in good shape, to make it through

    • jdubtrey - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:36 PM

      Nope…he was onside. Yedlin was off but away from the play.

  5. txbearmeat - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    When a tie feels like a loss…..

    Bradley.. just… gah…. Come on man. ANOTHER stinker from our “premiere” player. If Ghana beats Portugal and we lose by 2 to Germany, we’re done. I have a BAD feeling about this. Classic USMNT. Classic. @#$&^%@#$

  6. mazblast - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:29 PM

    As I once overheard my HS basketball coach (RIP) tell our star shooting guard, “Defend for 32, or sit that long. Your call.” That player told me ten years later during a chance meeting, “Coach had a way of putting things in perspective.”

    Look, a draw is not so bad. A win would have clinched a spot in the round of 16, but a draw beats a loss (duh). Unless Germany blows the US out AND Portugal blows Ghana out, or Ghana wins handily after a close US loss, the US is in. Germany is plus four, the US is plus one, Ghana is minus one, and Portugal is minus four.

    And after all that “Group of Death” talk, a US advancement would be fine.

  7. badgerbuck - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    USA is done fun while it lasted which was not long.

  8. sistreetsoldier - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:33 PM

    Finish the fight….

  9. jdubtrey - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    Between shooting a sitter right at a defender and giving the ball away in the last minute, Bradley has got to be kicking himself tonight.

  10. kellybeck15 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    Are we really letting Geoff Cameron off the hook here? Not only did he gift Portugal their first directly, but he also allowed the runner behind him on the final goal. If everyone is pointing out Bradley’s sub par outing, I think it is more than fair to mention Cameron’s horrendous display first.

    • hartfordhellions4ever - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:52 PM

      No doubt. A classic howler in the 1st half and then to double down by NOT marking the runner on that last gasp play. UGH !! A double set of Goat horns for Cameron tonight.

  11. ningenito78 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:58 PM

    Two things:

    1. I have no idea what the hell I just read.

    2. The fact that all these other countries players have one word names annoys me for some reason.

    • braxtonrob - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:50 PM

      @ningenito, I think you’re lost; this is a board for soccer FANS.

  12. joewilliesshnoz - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    Bradley should have to swim the Amazon, after that game.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:27 PM


  13. godsholytrousers - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    Bradley needs rest. Mix Diskerud please.

  14. booger1234 - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    Ok Bradley sucked again. Geoff Cameron sucked which i hate saying as I like the guy. Regardless of Bradley turning it over at the end (no excuse for that) there is no excuse for the lack of knowing where your man is especially with that lil time left in the game! Also wtf is with the refs giving 5 min of stoppage time! 3 at the most was all that it should have been period then we wouldnt be discussing this anyways,

  15. fagiolip - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    Bradley is either overrated based on those 2 WC games or he needs some serious rest. He was almost ineffective. How many times can you lose possession or give the ball away passing and still have a starting roll?

  16. paxonst - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    When I saw Omar Gonzalez enter the game I knew we were in trouble. I saw enough of his screw-ups in the lead-up games. He may have not have been directly involed with defending Varela, but where the h was he when Ronaldo sent the ball across? Trailing the play as usual. I know Klinsmann has a particular substitution pattern with his 4’s and 5’s, but John Brooks is a much more competent player than Gonzalez. Otherwise, the U.S. played tremendous game. It was obvious the Ronaldo is nowhere near 100% fit.

  17. remosnozzberri82 - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Bradley was off again tentative and fatigued. Lack of killer instinct all over the place. Portugal isn’t the best.

  18. bucfanforlife - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    a couple of things Bradley was brutal, how does cr get to run that far by himself with the ball who was marking him at the end of the game if someone is all him no cross, time keeping in soccer period sucks keep the time official on a scoreboard and have the ref have a clicker when play stops click off the board time freezes when play resumes click on then there is no guesstimating time at the end, also ref added a minute for the long player switch at the end of the game by us

  19. dws110 - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    I hate myself for even thinking this, but after all of our dominance on the wings, I found myself at halftime wishing we had some aerial presence in the middle…someone like Eddie Johnson.

    I know, I know, I’d thumbs-down myself if I could.

    • braxtonrob - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:13 PM

      Ditto! (on the Eddie Johnson wish.)

  20. grm35741 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:22 AM

    playing without Jozy forced the US to get it done and it looked better than when Jozy is in there.
    I did not like Clint up top alone but Jurgen proved me wrong. Clint completed like 98% of his passes and scored. We know if Jozy was in there we would of sent it long and it would of bounced off him to Portugal most of the time.

    The days of just kicking it forward to a Jozy type player has to end for the US to be successful.
    Was glad to see the difference v Portugal. Now if we can just put 2 up top and still defend successfully we will have arrived

    • braxtonrob - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:18 PM

      Well said!!

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