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Sunday's Winners & Losers
by Paul Kennedy, June 23rd, 2014 2:33AM
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TAGS:  world cup 2014

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[BRAZIL 2014] Sunday's USA-Portugal game produced its share of heroes and goats in an other epic Matchday 2 game for the Americans. This time they weren't denied a heroic comeback win, though, by a refereeing mistake, like four years ago. Turnovers and poor marking left them probably needing a result in their final game Thursday against Germany.

Winners ...

JERMAINE JONES. Six months ago, Jermaine Jones was an unwanted man in Germany. His club, Schalke 04, basically told him to get lost, and he moved to Turkey to get playing time needed to fulfill his dream of representing the USA at the World Cup. Jones scored one of the best goals of the tournament with his bending rocket (right around Ricardo Costa) that tied the USA-Portugal game and has been the USA's best player at the World Cup.

DEANDRE YEDLIN. There was a lot of head-scratching when Jurgen Klinsmann selected the 20-year-old right back, who has only played 44 games for the Seattle Sounders, to his 30-player short list, let alone his final 23-player roster. But as we had speculated, he was used against Portuguese in midfield and in his World Cup debut set up the go-ahead goal with a run down the right wing to the end line and cross into the middle.

CRISTIANO RONALDO. Yes, the Portuguese are likely going home early. But you have to salute a player, clearly at less than 100 percent with a gimpy knee, for hitting the cross he did in the 95th minute. His ball that found Silvestre Varela may have sunk some American hearts, but it was the best cross of the tournament.

FENNECS. Algeria became the African first team to score four goals at the World Cup with its 4-2 win over South Korea. Indeed, the goals were the first the Fennecs scored at the World Cup since 1982. (You'll be hearing just a little about Algeria's exit in 1982 over the next few days.)

VAHID HALILHODZIC. No one was happier than the Algerian victory than its Bosnian coach. For months, the Algerian media have had a running battle with Halilhodzic, reporting that he was on the verge of being fired. ''You journalists have always criticized me, but the Algerian fans have always been behind us,'' he said after Sunday's game. "It's a pity for you. I'm sorry for you. Maybe you are sad, but this is how it is.''

BELGIUM. The Red Devils became just the sixth team to advance to the round of 16 thanks to a 1-0 win over Russia on a late goal by teenager Divock Origi, the son of a former Kenyan international.

Losers ...

USA. The USA had a chance to clinch a berth in the next round against a very shaky and beaten-up Portuguese team. The defense was always going to be the question mark. It held up in the 2-1 win over Ghana, but it struggled against Portugal, which finished with a 21-15 edge in shots. Geoff Cameron foul-tipped a clearance, allowing Nani an easy goal for Portugal right at the start. Klinsmann brought in Omar Gonzalez as a third central defender to close out the game, but Portugal still managed to find an equalizer when Varela raced past Cameron for the stunning equalizer.

More concerning was the amount of turnovers in midfield. None was worse than the ball Michael Bradley lost on the play that led to the tying goal. Asked if he blamed himself for the tying goal, Bradley told ESPN,  "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."

PORTUGAL. A semifinalist at three of the last five major tournaments to go along with a quarterfinal appearance and second-round exit to eventual champion Spain at the 2010 World Cup, Portugal was seconds away from going home after two games at the World Cup. It will take a miracle for it to not go home after three.

ASIA. South Korea's loss to Algeria left the four Asian teams winless in eight games with just three points.

Confederation Standings:
PPG CONFEDERATION (W-T-L)
2.33 South America (9-1-2)
1.75 Concacaf (4-2-2)
1.31 Europe (10-4-12)
1.10 Africa (3-2-5)
0.38 Asia (0-5-3)


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