The USA and Portugal fought to a 2-2 draw in the Group G match in the FIFA World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo, who struggled during the match, assisted on a last second cross that equalized the game for Portugal. The loss of Jozy Altidore in the Ghana match earlier in the week may have been the missing link for the American team and could return in time for the USA match against Germany.
The United States made a change to the line-up for the second game moving team captain Clint Dempsey to a more of a striker position and replacing the injured Altidore with Graham Zusi. Taking the pitch in a 4-5-1 formation, the United States wanted to be aggressive on the offensive end with Dempsey up front. However, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann needed his team to be aware of the counter attack by Cristiano Ronaldo and have a strong defense that could potentially counter Ronaldo’s counter-attack.
Portugal made four changes to the 4-3-3 line-up after the game one loss to Germany. The big change by head coach Paulo Bento was replacing the injured Rui Patricio in-goal with Beto. Portugal gambled choosing Beto to go into goal. This game was the goalkeepers first competitive international game.
A big mistake happened to the USA in the 5th minute of play as Portugal’s Nani was able to capitalize on a USA miss hit by Geoff Cameron and slipped the ball past goalkeeper Tim Howard. This gave Portugal an early 1-0 lead. Portugal controlled the ball well in the first half, looking like a totally different team that faced Germany earlier in the week. Dempsey had three chances in within 15 minutes of the USA falling behind. A free kick sailed just over the cross-bar and a shot at Beto was deflected which resulted in a USA corner kick. Dempsey collected the corner kick and kicked a bit too hard and again sent the ball over the goal.
The USA handled the ball very well for the rest of the first half of the Group G match. After a FIFA World Cup ordered water break due to the heat, Howard made a mistake on a Portugal shot and was bailed out briefly thanks to the ball bouncing off of the post. On the rebound, Howard quickly recovered and made a brilliant save. The USA headed to the locker room at halftime with the task of figuring out a way to come back to escape defeat and survive the group of death. Finding a way to score could give the American team a draw, however a win would move the team pout of group play and send Portugal home.
Portugal started the second half with the ball and controlled play until Zusi made a threatening drive that ended with a cross to Michael Bradley, who took a shot on what appeared to be a wide open goal. Beto was out of position, however Portugal’s Ricardo Costa was able to deflect the shot. It looked like that flurry by the United States would be the motivator needed. The US went on the attack until the 62nd minute when Ronaldo took off down the pitch wide open. What appeared to be the chance for a wide open goal ended up as a shot wide of the target. The US bounced back from that scoring attempt by Ronaldo and in the 64th minute, Jermaine Jones collected a failed USA corner attempt outside of the 16-yard box and launched a shot from distance for the equalizer, leveling the game at 1-1.
A scare for the US happened off of a Portugal attack when Matt Besler stretched out to break up a pass and immediately reached for his leg which he strained against Ghana. When play restarted, second half substitution DeAndre Yedlin took the ball down towards the goal. A cross back bounced around and found Dempsey in the 81st minute to give the USA a 2-1 lead over Portugal. All game, Portugal had chances, specifically from Ronaldo. However the Portugal superstar was able to cross a pass to Silvestre Varela, who headed the ball past Howard to tie the game 2-2.
With the draw, the USA is now tied with Germany with four points and Portugal is tied with one point apiece. Who from Group G will advance into the field of 16 teams in the next round of the FIFA World Cup will be answered in the final two matches. Germany and the US would both advance with a draw to the next round of the World Cup. If either team wins, the loser would have to lead either Ghana or Portugal in-goal difference unless Ghana and Portugal draw in their final game.
Commentary by Carl Auer
Game Observations by Carl Auer