FIFA World Cup Group G prematch contenders Team USA and Portugal fought hard to take each other out of the first phase. Although the game ended in a 2-2 draw, USA had the advantage throughout most of the game. They face Germany in next round.
The United States had a big win over Ghana and also had many supporters coming into the game against Portugal. However, they almost missed their chance to advance in the knockout phase. Spain and England were already knocked out. It is difficult to determine if the US will join these heavyweights, and be sent home before making it to the FIFA World Cup finals.
Portugal, who was ranked No. 4 by FIFA World Cup sponsors, now have bigger chances of making it to the semi-finals. The draw against USA showed that Portugal is well organized and qualified enough to perform competitively against their opponents.
Very early in the game, Portugal scored their first goal. Forward Luis Nani picked up the goal while Team USA was still in contemplation mode. America was forced to regroup and pick up some much needed speed to move the ball closer into Portugal’s penalty area. Team Portugal quickly countered keeping the USA from reaching a goal in the first half.
At last week’s FIFA World Cup Group G prematch, USA Forward Jozy Altidore went out early because of an injury and did not return to play in the knockout phase against Portugal. After an evaluation, it was determined he will not play against Germany in the next round.
During the FIFA World Cup knockout against Ghana, the USA Forward Clint Dempsey suffered from a broken nose. Without a nose protector Dempsey joined team mates and contributed to making the second point of the draw against Portugal.
In the draw against Portugal, Dempsey stayed on the chase making runs from the midfield to the front center, and was able to maintain the position before rotating possession to USA Forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Jeremy Jones. The two-man defense interchanged close control passes but, eventually, the ball got redirected and sent to Nani who went in for the strike. USA Goalkeeper Tim Howard answered the attack.
In between the last two minutes of the first half, once again, the ball moved in close to the net by Nani. This time Howard made a knee dive to rebound the ball. Nani attempted a restrike that Howard swiftly volleyed over the netting. Portugal leaded 1-0 at the closing of the first half.
During the second half of the FIFA World Cup prematch Portugal remained very effective in keeping possession interchanging among their players and intercepting ball possession from the US team. At 56 minutes the US team built a stronger defense. Jones retook ball possession and moved towards the center for the attack.
High in the stands of the arena, fans echoed “USA, USA…” and for the first time it appeared they would score. Portugal had other plans as Goalkeeper Beto Pimparel countered the double strike attempt by Jones with fierceness. Team USA maintained ball possession while penetrating on the center front. Then Jones advanced a wide kick strike that leveled the game 1-1. The United States fans roared.
Minutes later USA intensified their defense but then Jones drew a yellow card and US Winger DaMarcus Beasley faltered and went out of the game temporarily. Jones refusing to be stopped, took control of the center and set up a three way combination to Dempsey that whammed the ball straight into the net. The US had moved into the lead, 2-1 with 8 minutes remaining.
Portugal went scrambling for a comeback. Just before the game ended, Ronaldo moved in and sent a wide two way thrust to Forward Silvestre Varela for the goal. Portugal tied the score, 2-2.
The United States is not completely out of the FIFA World Cup semi-finals although the game against Portugal was a draw, 2-2. They already had 3 extra points coming into the game. Portugal is not yet officially out as well. They needed 3 or more points to knock out the Team USA and steal their spot in Group G. Dempsey made all of the right decisions to help further America in the FIFA World Cup. USA will continue on to face Germany in the next round.
By Kimakra Nealy