Going into the USA's second Group G match in Manaus with FIFA number 3 ranked Portugal, thanks to their thrilling 2-1 win against Ghana, the USA with a win was in the unexpected position by international soccer pundits to clinch a spot into the knockout round.
But Portugal and their all-everythang player Cristiano Ronaldo were pissed off about the 4-0 buttkicking Germany handed them. Ronaldo was even more pissed off about the criticism he was taking for not producing goals for his nation on his sports biggest stage.
Portugal was playing for their World Cup lives.and the opening minutes of this match reflected it. Just a mere five minutes into the match a failed clearance by Geoff Cameron was pounced on by Nani and he buried it into the upper left hand corner of the net over Tim Howard for a 1-0 Portugal lead they took into halftime.
But it wasn't for lack of trying by the USA. In the 28th minute a Michael Bradley strike skidded agonizingly wide a few feet of the right goalpost.
In the 55th minute came the USA's best chance to score and even the match. A fantastic run by Fabian Johnson drew out the Portuguese keeper and Johnson crossed to a trailing Michael Bradley who had the goal and defender Ricardo Costa in front of him. Costa got just enough of his knee out to deflect the almost sure goal to keep his side in the lead.
Then in the 64th minute came the equalizing laser from distance by Jermaine Jones to knot the score at one all and cause soccer fans across the USA to collectively exhale.
The USA kept attacking and was rewarded in the 81st minute with captain and my fellow Texan Clint Dempsey's go ahead goal off a Graham Zusi cross. 2-1 USA!
All the USA had to do was play keep away for 15 minutes and they were headed out of Arena da Amazonia with a signature win over a Top 5 ranked FIFA squad and a punched ticket to the knockout round.
The USA successfully did so for 14:30. Then Ronaldo proved in stoppage time why he gets $40 million to play the beautiful game. A midfield giveaway turned into a Portuguese counterattack led by Ronaldo, a perfectly crossed ball by him into the box that Silvestre Varela headed past Tim Howard for the goal that salvaged a draw and had Americans going WTF?
Ronaldo salvaged a tie out of the jaws of World Cup defeat and elimination.
While the USA got a point out of the disappointing draw and can still advance out of the 'Group of Death' with a win or draw against the FIFA number 2 ranked Germans, they could have made their lives a lot easier tomorrow had they handled their World Cup business in Manaus last Sunday.
Because if they fail to get out of the group, they will be thinking about that missed opportunity and that Varela goal for the next four years.
We'll see what happens in Recife tomorrow.