By Mike Woitalla
The USA's performance in a 2-2 tie with Portugal was marked by blunders and brilliance, starting with a gifted goal in the fifth minute and featuring a Jermaine Jones equalizer that rates among the tournament's best goals.
Clint Dempsey scored in his second straight game. This time bumping the ball into the goal off his belly. That 2-1 lead lasted until the final minute of stoppage time when Michael Bradley lost the ball in midfield and Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross found the head Silvestre Varela, who should have been blanketed by the three central defenders the USA had on the field.
RATING PLAYER (TEAM) GP/G
6 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG), 102/0.
Was on the ground before Nani pulled the trigger on the 1-0 shot. After misjudging Nani’s 19-yard shot that hit the post made spectacular save on Eder’s rebound effort. Stopped a couple hard long-range shots. Blocked a close-range a rocket from Raul Meireles in the second half. Ronaldo’s perfect cross for 2-2 looked unreachable.
7 Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER), 24/1.
Right back often looked like a midfielder. Sparked USA’s first attack after giving up the first goal and several others. Also solid on defending the flank, as when he stripped Silvestre Varela in the 70th minute.
6 Matt Besler (Sporting KC), 19/0.
Central defender intercepted passes with head and feet.
3 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), 29/1.
Totally whiffed on a Miguel Veloso’s pass, deflecting it to Nani for a 5-yard finish in nightmare start. Let Varela cruise through when he headed home the stunning stoppage-time equalizer.
5 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX), 118/17.
The left back kept Portugal fairly quiet on the right wing. He limited to Nani to long shots (besides the goal gifted by Cameron’s mis-play).
6 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 39/1.
Swept in front of central defenders and helped cover for outside backs when they attacked.
8 Jermaine Jones (Besiktas/TUR), 44/3.
Scored one of this World Cup’s best goals with his curving rocket from 25 yards. Toiled defensively too and also carried ball forward.
5 Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), 88/12.
Squandered a golden opportunity when his shot from six yards went straight Ricardo Costa on the goal line. Helped create 2-1 goal with a shot that produced a favorable rebound. Linked midfielders better than in his Ghana performance but lost ball to Eder on the sequence that led to Portugal’s 2-2.
6 Graham Zusi (Sporting KC), 25/3.
Nicely served up Dempsey on the 2-1 and combined well with Johnson on the right flank.
4 Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/FRA), 30/1.
Saw little of the ball, didn’t create anything threatening from his wing, and hit a poor cross shortly before being subbed in 72nd minute.
7 Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), 107/39.
Forced two first-half Beto saves with shots from narrow angles and shot just high over cross bar on free kick. Less active in the second half when he scored with his stomach for the 2-1.
RATING PLAYER (TEAM) GP/G
6 DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders), 5/0.
Arrived in the 72nd minute to bring speed to the flank and delivered the ball that led to the USA’s 2-1.
NR Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), 21/9.
Replaced Dempsey in the 87th minute to pressure Portuguese defenders.
NR Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), 21/0.
Entered in stoppage time to serve as a third central defender but wasn’t there when Portugal scored.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high)