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Incredible game of comebacks ends tied
by Ridge Mahoney, June 22nd, 2014 9:15PM

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TAGS:  men's national team, portugal, world cup 2014

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By Ridge Mahoney
(@ridgemax)

An amazing match in the Amazon jungle wound up, 2-2. Here are some thoughts in the aftermath of an incredible game between Portugal in the United States.

TURNABOUTS. Under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann the U.S. national team has maintained its rally reputation, but after wiping out a 1-0 deficit against Portugal Sunday in Manaus and closing to within seconds of clinching a spot in the knockout round, it was caught from behind.

In the fifth and last minute of stoppage time, Cristiano Ronaldo redeemed an otherwise benign match by swerving a superb cross from the right wing that substitute Varela headed home to produce a 2-2 tie that leaves all four teams in Group G with varying chances of advancement.

The other main Portuguese attacking threat, Nani, also didn’t produce much threat but he pounced on a scuffed clearance by U.S. defender Geoff Cameron to score in the fifth minute. The Americans weren’t flustered and played much better soccer than they had in the opener against Ghana to get back into the game.



They tied the game with a spectacular shot from distance by Jermaine Jones, and took a 2-1 lead in the 81st  minute when Clint Dempsey turned in a cross from Graham Zusi. But for once, the U.S. comeback itself faltered when Varela got inside of Cameron.

Varela had been brought on in the 69th minute for his crossing ability and he delivered several ball towards Ronaldo that didn’t bring any reward. Instead, they reversed roles in the final seconds and by the barest of margins Portugal kept alive its hopes of reaching the knockout round.

SHIFTING SUBS. Defender John Brooks, who came off the bench and replaced defender Matt Besler to score the dramatic winning goal against Ghana, warmed up in the second half in Manaus but didn’t get on the field though again Belser went down and needed medical attention from the sideline. Another sub, Graham Zusi, earned a start against Portugal by coming on as a sub and hitting the corner against Ghana from which Brooks scored.

DeAndre Yedlin, the young Seattle Sounder defender whose presence on the roster is a mystery to many, did get into the game in the 72nd minute and nine minutes later his run to the byline and cross produced the sequence from which Zusi crossed and Dempsey scored off his stomach.

Portugal had to burn a sub early when Helder Postiga, who got the start because of an injury to Hugo Almeida, couldn’t continue and had to replaced by Eder in the 16th minute. Eder seldom threatened the American back line. William entered the game at halftime and though he was supposed lock down the midfield and secure Portugal’s 1-0 lead, in that regard the move failed.

But head coach Paulo Bento’s third sub turned out to be the charm and thanks to Varela Portugal says alive at least until group play concludes Thursday.

JONES WITH A GEM. He did get carded, yet rugged midfielder Jermaine Jones marked another strong game by scoring a cracker of a goal.

On the left side near the edge of the penalty area, Jones shifted the ball inside to make some space and rifled a right-footed shot to the far post. The goal ended nearly an hour of the USA chasing a 1-0 deficit and set the stage for Dempsey’s go-ahead goal 17 minutes later.

Jones fouled Joao Moutinho after a Fabian Johnson giveaway to stop a possible counterattack a few minutes after Jones had scored. It was his first caution in his last 12 international games. His work, and that of Kyle Beckerman in the middle, enabled the Americans to throttle the Portuguese attack for most of the game and only seldom did the U.S. need Tim Howard to come up with a big save.


16 comments
  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: June 22, 2014 at 9:57 p.m.
    An incredible game, indeed! However, I am a bit disappointed that the player that finally gave up the ball to one of three Portuguese midfielders, who then passed it to RC7 for the pin-point cross and header, Michael Bradley is not named - at least not in this article. Bradley had a terrible game against Ghana, and only somewhat improved his play today, yet he appears to be a bit disjointed at times and expects others to cover for him. True, his team mates at midfield should have called out to him and caution a "man on!" yet, in mine and many of those other folks in the pub couldn't believe it when he, Bradley lost the ball. Hopefully he will finally get a wake-up call for the next game...

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: June 22, 2014 at 10 p.m.
    An question: why didn't R. Mahoney mention Bradley?

  1. steve perkins
    commented on: June 22, 2014 at 10:22 p.m.
    Agree with above. Bradley missed a sitter in the first half and played with a lack of urgency. His passing is sub-par and instead of playing intelligently at the end he gave the ball away and this led to the goal. He could have kicked it into the stands which would have been preferable. In the first game he was shocking and should have been removed in the first half. If players assume they are automatic choices they sometimes need a kick in the rear end.

  1. Charles Stamos
    commented on: June 22, 2014 at 10:34 p.m.
    Cameron was victimized on both goals, he played well the other 85 minutes. Bradley gave the ball away in the last minute, he played a good game otherwise. JJones had a nice goal. Zusi set up Dempsey for his sitter. The USA got 1 point and you can cry or be elated that we did that against the world's #3 team. It is what it is. Now we need a win or tie against Germany or a close win or tie by Ghana or Portugal. Good luck USA.

  1. soccer talk
    commented on: June 22, 2014 at 10:37 p.m.
    Agree, Bradley had his first bad game vs Ghana and should have been removed. He Played well today and the US played Control ball After they shook off early gift. He prob should Have put away point blank shot but give him A break it had spin turning the inward. It was on goal and a volley. Ronaldo missed frame altogether. With a little communication there in the end things fare much different. Before we start Bashing Bradley lets honestly give him his do as the cog that anchors this team and is the reason For this squads accomplishment. No one has mentioned the gracious amount Of added time. 3 mins fair, 4 mins maybe, but 5 was ridiculous.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: June 22, 2014 at 10:48 p.m.
    three halves, three five minute injury times? Anyone else wondering what the hell the CR is basing that on? We should be through because we outplayed Portugal!

  1. Kent James
    commented on: June 22, 2014 at 11:23 p.m.
    Maybe the ref thought he had given a water break in the 2nd half? Five minutes was too much stoppage time (certainly for us). Bradley played better today than he did against Ghana, but still not well. But he's probably been the most consistent US player, so I have faith he'll improve. I also think the shot that hit off the defender's knee was not him blowing a sitter; he's hitting Yedlin's relatively hard pass without much time to think, and he does the right thing; make sure he gets it on goal (not high or wide), and doesn't blast it. He doesn't have time to pick a corner; 9 out of 10 times the shot he hit would go in (when there is no keeper), so the US was just a bit unlucky there (or credit the Portuguese defender for his effort).

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: June 23, 2014 at 7:42 a.m.
    Bradley should have acknowledged his own mistake in the TV interview. He spend an eternity of time trying to find the right words to say, without incriminating himself. This is not leadership. He thinks he is bigger than the team. No less than 5 players made mistakes in less than 10 seconds. Admit it and move on. It happens in soccer.

  1. soccer talk
    commented on: June 23, 2014 at 8:06 a.m.
    Bradley does not think he is bigger than the game. You missed there Gus. MB is Not a loud mouth super star that brags or points Fingers after games. So what he gave the ball away. It happens. You move on. Too many are trying to turn this game bad. We played bad and beat Ghana and played our best game and tied yesterday. Take the positives as a fan and as a player and move forward. We are sitting great. Stop the bashing.

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: June 23, 2014 at 8:39 a.m.
    Soccer talk, Bradley said: "I put my heart and soul into every game every time I step on the field. It's a cruel game sometimes, you know? So again, I'm proud of that and proud of what I'm about every time I play and there's certainly no regrets in my book." And the way he said it was embarrassing, to tell you the truth. Doesn't he sound defensive? He doesn't need to say these things. Fans and pundits see these things. Personally, I have a lot of respect for him. But if you make mistake, just acknowledge it and move on. No need for lectures.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: June 23, 2014 at 10:23 a.m.
    Bradley had a poor game by his own standards, over-all better than the first game, but still not what we expect from him. The USA has now played 15 min of extra time in their two games,yet you would say the USA is the least time wasting team in the entire tournament. What gives? Yes, Bradley gave away the ball, but it was at the midfield, of a game that had only a few seconds left and we were ahead by a goal,there should have been plenty of cover for him at that moment, and where oh where was Omar who was brought in specifically to clear out those crossing or long balls into the box.At the point in the match, he should have stationed himself right there in the center and made sure he got to every ball,period!

  1. Andrea Hana
    commented on: June 23, 2014 at 11:42 a.m.
    I was surprised that only 2 min was added to the first half. Meireles spent at least that just himself on the ground dying with that NOTHING elbow from Beckerman, whom he was holding. Then the water break. 5 min should have been added in the FIRST half, not the second, in which the didn't even GET a water break! We ALMOST had it! That ref had it in for us. Did you see him yelling at Yedlin when he was holding the ball in the corner? What a douche. He officiated poorly, too.

  1. Ginger Peeler
    commented on: June 23, 2014 at 12:02 p.m.
    Gus, I didn't find it at all embarrassing. Bradley was simply saying that he gives the game everything he has each time he plays. I don't think you can ask any more of an athlete. And for that, he has no regrets. Forwards are supposed to be backed up by midfielders; who, in turn are supposed to be covered by the defenders. It's a TEAM. There are constant turnovers; they're part of the game. A momentary lapse by some of our defenders...Portugal scores. Hey, Bradley was in that mix that ended when Dempsey bodied the ball into the goal. Instead of trying to find someone to blame, look at what they accomplished! Very few folks thought the US could take the game to Portugal. So, here we are with 4 points, earned without the forward Klinsman was counting on, Jozy Altidore! Let's hope the team recovers well, physically and mentally, by the game on Thursday.

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: June 23, 2014 at 3:06 p.m.
    Ginger, obviously you didn't read what I wrote carefully. I didn't blame Bradley. I said: "No less than 5 players made mistakes in less than 10 seconds." But I am arguing that if Bradley made a mistake, he should admit it and move on. I am not holding him responsible. It's a leadership quality that he has to have to be successful in this team or any team. Every body can make mistake.

  1. Greg Morris
    commented on: June 23, 2014 at 3:59 p.m.
    Sorry guys. As much as I like Bradley, he was shockingly bad the final half hour. Watch the 2nd half again and pay close attention to Bradley - he was mentally and physically broken. One give away after another and zero defensive effort. My only criticism of JK was that he didn't sub him late instead of Zusi or Bedoya who were at least trying to get back. Ginger, it is fine to say that midfielders are backed by defenders and it is a team game but the fact is that with everyone in the stadium knowing they were in the final minute Bradley tried to bring down the ball and turn on 3 players. Clear the ball and the game is over. It is the 2nd game in a row where he has shown a lack of game management skill. Why?

  1. James Madison
    commented on: June 23, 2014 at 7:42 p.m.
    Bradley played much better than against Ghana, but was he suffering from some undisclosed fatiguing illness? He looked totally out of gas in the last 20-25 minutes and for most of that time, before coughing up the crucial ball, was just jogging slowly in or around the center circle. It is astonishing that he was not subbed and that Klinsmann was not even asked why he was not subbed.


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