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World Cup 2014

Last-gasp goal from Varela sees USMNT settle for discouraging draw vs. Portugal

USA loses lead Germany

By FRANCO PANIZO

MANAUS, Brazil — The U.S. Men’s National Team’s once again delivered some late World Cup dramatics, but so too did Portugal.

Substitute forward Varela scored a last-gasp goal at Arena Amazonia on Sunday night to give Portugal a thrilling 2-2 draw with the U.S., which had rallied from an early deficit and was on the brink of securing an early ticket to the Round of 16.

Nani opened the scoring five minutes in, but the Americans responded through second-half strikes from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey. Those goals had the U.S. on the cusp of advancing to the knockout phase, but Cristiano Ronaldo delivered a splendid cross from the right flank that Varela nodded home on the game’s final play.

The result leaves the U.S. a total of four points and second place in Group G behind Germany — but it also keeps Portugal alive in the tournament with one point, which Ghana has as well heading into the final round of group matches.

“When you get a goal in the last second of the game, when you would’ve been on six points, then it’s a bummer for a moment that you have to swallow,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “But I think it was an outstanding game with all the players. We discussed at halftime, ‘It’s all good guys. We’re going to get this first goal and then we’re going to get a second goal.’

“We felt very confident that we could turn things around, which we did that. We could’ve added a third or fourth goal with the chances we had. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that and it ended in a tie.”

Varela’s goal gave a shorthanded Portugal a result in a match in which the Americans dominated possession after falling behind early. Geoff Cameron whiffed on a clearance attempt after a cross was sent in from the left and the ball skipped to the back post, where a wide open Nani stood before smashing a shot into the roof of the net.

After a few more Portugal attacks that looked threatening, Klinsmann’s side settled into the match, bossed possession for large stretches and took multiple shots on goal.

“Maybe it was a better sequence this time than in the (2-1 win vs. Ghana) where we scored in the first minute and then defended too much,” said Klinsmann. “This way you concede a goal and then you take the game to the opponent. If it’s Portugal, who cares? Go forward, and that’s what we did.”

Added center back Matt Besler: “I thought we responded very, very well (with the way) we were able to calm down, to keep the ball. We really got into a rhythm after they scored and played some of our best soccer for the rest of that half.”

Dempsey, Jones, Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnson all had goes from distance, but none of their shots were accurate enough to beat Portugal goalkeeper Beto.

As good as the Americans looked in the first half, they still needed a couple of saves from Tim Howard to keep them in the game. Howard stopped Nani on a chance late in the first half, and then produced one of the best stops of the World Cup just before halftime.

Howard had initially botched a block on a powerful Nani shot that stung off the near post, but used his left hand to paw away Eder’s rebounded effort despite the fact that momentum was carrying the U.S. goalkeeper away from the ball.

Portugal also had a spectacular save in the match. Bradley had a golden chance to equalize the game after Johnson cut a ball back to him early in the second half, but Ricardo Costa came up with a huge goal-line clearance to keep the Portuguese out in front.

That changed in the 64th minute. Jones brought down a cleared ball outside of the penalty area and sliced it past a frozen Beto to record his third goal at the international level.

“In that moment, I think the whole team is happy. Me, too,” Jones said. “We missed a big chance with Michael, so we was pushing and pushing and pushing. We have a lot of energy lost, so when I scored I can feel Portugal was a little like down and you could see that we would push more.”

Dempsey added his second of the tournament 17 minutes later off a low cross from Graham Zusi that came after substitute DeAndre Yedlin played a ball in from the right, giving the Americans a dramatic lead that sent the pro-U.S. fans into a frenzy.

Varela, however, made sure that would not be the winner. He nodded home Ronaldo’s 95th-minute cross from the right flank to leave the U.S. in disbelief and Portugal alive in the tournament.

“It’s kind of sad,” said Johnson. “If somebody had told us that we’re going to have four points after those two games, we’d have taken it. But we’re kind of, little bit disappointed.”

The U.S. will need to look past that disappointment quickly, as the final game of group play comes on Thursday against Germany at Arena Pernambuco in Recife. A draw would see both teams advance to the Round of 16.

Portugal and Ghana play simultaneously in the other Group G match at Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in Brasilia.

595 comments
  • Jeremy Gallagher

    Where would this team be without Clint Dempsey? His ability to create and finish is absolutely essential to this group. Who is going to replace him after he is gone?

    Like

  • bryan

    Heck of a game guys. Really bummed but we are still in a good spot. We still control our own fate. It’s not time to hate, let’s push this team and get the result Thursday!

    Like

  • Jack

    This is all fixed, ESPN knew if the US won no one would watch Thursday….Now everyone’s going to be watching 2 matches at once.

    Like

  • Glove69

    Just finished watching the replay. Yes hindsight is a day late and a dollar short so if I am reiterating this don’t shoot me. Klinsmann makes a tactical error pulling Zusi and inserting Gonzales in the 91st minute. In theory the 3 central back should provide cover for onslaught by Portugal but Gonzales was coming in cold and Zusi had put in some really good defensive work on the right flank. Gonzales was nowhere to be found on the cross to Varela and thinking of how little Ronaldo had contributed to the game while Zusi was manning the right flank makes me wonder if that was a bad move. I hate seeing 90+ minute moves to bring on players. They are time wasting measures at best eating a whole 30+ seconds and any player rolling into a world cup match at 90+ is like throwing a frog into a blender he can’t swim or better put adjust to the game in that short time. Gonzales was not at fault but he should have been at home to cover that cross that landed in between Besler and Cameron.

    Not sure if Klinsmann can make any changes to the lineup for the German game as the team overall has played well. Don’t fix what is not broken, but the both centerbacks have been very shaky so far as we expected. Change for the sake of change at this point does not make sense. Who on the bench offers a real upgrade or creates a matchup problem for the Germans other than maybe Yedlin adding more speed the Bedoya. Speed of Ghana stretched the Germans and made them look slow. I think the US speed could pose problems for the Germans.

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    • Ali Dia

      I agree…. this was silly. Gonz must be crazy bummed– he can’t do anything right this days.

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      • Alex H

        Gonzalez had nothing to do with this. This was on Bradley for losing possession and on Cameron for letting his man run right by him. There seems to be a lot of Gonzo haters out there and I am sure that if the position of Gonzo and Cam were reversed not a single poster would even mention Cam.

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  • shawn

    You guys are overreacting, Bradley played ok but made a bonehead mistake. We need Bradley on the field he still has the high iq and passing ability that he showed.yOu

    Like

  • Murray Braun

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see Jones as an Amid and Bradley-Beckerman as Dmids vs Germany.
    Diskerud, a sub at 70 minutes for one of the three–Bradley? moving Jones back with Beckerman.
    Davis at LMid and corner kicks instead of Zusi? Brooks instead of Cameron?

    Like

  • JAC1950

    GC did not “wiff”on the first goal. The ball came in hard, GC was able to deflect it away with a reaction move with his left leg. It bounced high and went to Nani, who buried it into an open net. Tim Howard’s foot had slipped on the turf and he was down. Two pieces of bad luck. It happens.

    Like

    • El Comandante

      Tim Howard did not slip; he dropped on his butt. He got scared as he is not comfortable taking pain. Yes, he is good at stopping long range shots and distributing from the top, but he avoids pain and as a goalkeeper, to be at the next level you must be brave. Howard is not. That’s exactly what Sr. Ferguson saw in him and therefore gave him the boot when he was in line for the starter job at Man U.Against Ghana he did something similar when he dove to his left way before the shot was taken, again avoiding being hit with the shot. Of course if a goalkeeper does that is a lot harder for the attacking player to miss. Also, in this game he was gracious that Elder’s shot after Ronaldo or Nani hit the post found him, again on his way down to his grassy bed, and somehow managed to stick his arm up and deflect the shot. Even at that moment he knew that he was being exposed for his weaknesses; you must’ve seen his reaction.

      Like

      • Pila

        Interesting thoughts, but if Klinsmann thought Howard was flinching in his job, Brad Guzan would be between the posts.

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      • JAC1950

        El C. Look more closely at the You Tube of the first goal. His left foot slipped out from under him.

        I absolutely disagree with your “scared” assertion. Having watched almost all of TH’s games with The USNMT, I have seen nothing to support your position. Your point about “Sir Alex” (not a big fan), was it in one of his books or were you mind reading? When it happened, the story was that TH had not held on to a ball in a big game.

        Funny that Moyes thought enough of TH to keep him around all those years. Martinez has gone of his way to praise him and gave him a multi-year contract just recently. Bob Bradley and Kilnsman have used him consistently for years.

        Bottom line, I’ll take TH every time.

        Like

  • Joe

    If Bradley can’t stay mentally in the game for 95 minutes, then sub him out.

    I’m sorry but it’s like his brain shut off. It’s that he or was so physically exhausted he couldn’t just kick the ball to the other end of the field or pass it. Either way, being able to finish out games to the very is as much part of being a good player than anything else. And I thought Bradley had played very well tonight.

    Geoff Cameron messed up twice and it cost him twice. Cruel. But as a defender, that happens. The Bradley giveaway was harder to understand for me.

    Like

  • Junes

    I’m a rugby fan from Australia and don’t have much interest in Soccer, but I just enjoyed watching the replay of the USA vs Portugal game… At the end of the game I felt compelled to google search “USA world cup player Bradley is useless”.. which lead me to this site. Guys that Michael Bradley dude is pathetic, his shots on goal were lame, especially when the goal was open from 2m, I lost count of the times he gave the ball away and defensively he didn’t even bother marking his man in the second half…. My immediate thought was this guy is either completely useless, taking bribes from match fixers or rooting someone in senior management… get rid of him!
    I wish you guys the best for the rest of the Cup… Enjoy

    Like

  • sabiray1

    Bradley was very poor, its all been said and its right and fair so im not gonna beat a dead horse.

    Whats funny is that a few weeks ago Bradley and his old man were crying that he was overlooked by Arsenal cause junior is American. Now its plain to see, for the whole world that Michael isnt good enough…yet

    Whatever happens in Brazil, he shold look to go back to Europe and improve. Bradley has too many apologists stateside and he is coddled here. Its not good for him or the national team

    Like

    • El Comandante

      Dude, drop it with Bradley already. Before yesterday’s mistake nobody here was saying anything against Michael. It was mostly praise. He made the wrong decision in one game that his team mates did not help correct, and that’s it. Also, he has been playing for only maybe two months now in a position he had never played at any level. The same exact scenario goes for Cameron, but nobody here is criticizing him as much as Bradley. A lot of players are to blame for that last goal, not just Bradley. It is a team sports and everybody should contribute. Truth is, Michael has contributed a lot to the success of this team and needs to start alongside Jermaine in his DM position. Klinsmann should bench Beckermann, who is just another body on the field and slows this team down in transition, and bring in Diskerud or another attacking midfielder more accustomed to that position. But, he is the coach and I am not, so I must respect his judgement and support all of our players.

      Like

      • Joe from Philly

        I think you nailed it. Michael is out of position and Beckerman is just a body on the field…a slow one that Michael and Cameron had to help throughout both games. It’s hard playing two positions and Michael and Cameron were dead tired. Bring in Mix and let Michael and Cameron play one position each. Let Beckerman run slowly on the side of the field. I’m not saying Beckerman sucks, I’m just saying his speed of thought and body are slower than the international game requires and others have to cover him…near the equator, that wears those other players out and they’ll tend to make mistakes.

        Like

  • Pila

    It was heart-breaking to lose at the end. BUT I remember thinking four years ago, God, the US needs a coach who can change them into an attacking team. Not slamming Bob Bradley, just wanting to see the US raise its game another level or two. Klinsmann has done that, hands down. Yes, Michael Bradley played so-so and it hurt. And I was one of the Dempsey doubters who thought his game was in decline if he’d moved back to the MLS. But if there is one thing Klinsmann has taught me, watching his team, is the man knows what he’s doing. If the US had a better player to do MB’s job, Klinsmann would have had him on the field in a heartbeat. He doesn’t give a rat’s a** about reputations or past effort (re: Donovan). So I’m assuming Klinsmann saw things in Bradley’s play that kept him on the pitch. MB used to the take-no-prisoners mid-fielder for the US. Jermaine Jones has clearly taken over that role. Bradley will find his feet and deliver or he’ll be the next bencher. But clearly, Jurgen thinks differently and he’s made a believer out of me. And they can put Dempsey on Mount Rushmore now, as far as I’m concerned.

    Like

  • Jay

    Ghana is going to knock us out of this world cup with a win over portugal and us losing to germany.

    aint that a b*tch.

    Like

    • Ali Dia

      If you wish hard enough for anything, it just might happen…

      So don’t wish for it.

      Like

  • Moose

    The funny thing is all the Michael Bradley haters will be on his nuts again when he plays great against Germany or in the next round.

    Like

  • Desmond

    Klinsmann told his players to push forward in the last 30 seconds. That it the absolute dumbest coaching strategy in the history of the game. If you think any differently you have no clue.
    He put Omar in there to win headballs in the box.
    Any high school coach knows enough to to put everyone behind the ball particularly against a team that had NOTHING left in the tank.
    Bad coaching

    Like

    • Alex H

      We had 4 defenders in the box and they all let a single Portuguese player beat them all to the ball. This isn’t the coaches fault, it was the players that didn’t execute, particularly Cameron who let the goal scorer blow by him.

      Like

  • BumpBailey

    I laugh at all who lame Bradley for the last second goal…. c’mon. He was 60 yards away from goal when that happened. Yeah sure he should have just booted it should have fouled him etc…. There were numerous gaffs on that play. But the main thing, at that point of the game, WHY are our defenders running back towards our goal???? Cameron, Besler and Gonzales should have all been camped out back there before that ball even got to Ronaldo. Why were they all so far up the field? We should have had 7/8 guys behind the ball not chasing the play…. The real mistake i think comes from Fabian not staying with his runner. Didn’t we bascially bring Gonzo on to win head balls???

    Like

  • Desmond

    You are right Bump. EVERYONE should have been behind the ball with seven players in the funnel of the box. Horrible coaching…horrible

    Like

    • Helium-3

      You are blaming how the people are reacting to the fire (CBs running back) instead of the person causing the fire (MB90).

      MB90 should have passed the ball into the open space on his left where FJ would have ran into instead of trying to protect the ball with 4 guys around him. Everyone knows MB90 cannot possess the ball even against 1 guy, let alone 4 guys!!!

      Bad decision making because holding the ball is not his skill. How many more games will it take for people to be convinced this is not his strength? He is a ball winner, and a very good one at that but he cannot possess the ball as an attacking MF. He was playing as attacking MF for the past 2 games.

      Like

  • Desmond

    That is a very good point, a very obvious one to someone like you who knows soccer
    Another example of bad coaching

    Don’t know what the solution is but MB should be playing deeper. Yup he made two bad plays yesterday but how fickle are all of the people here who would be adoring him if he puts that ball away

    You can’t convince me LD could not have helped yesterday

    Like

    • Helium-3

      LD is not a central or attacking MF. LD does not have technical or individual skill to create space for himself in tight spaces. The only place where LD can help is outside midfield.
      LD has high workrate and good vision but I would never put in in the middle. He even knows this fact and always drifts wide where there is space to receive the ball and use his speed to beat players or put in the crosses.

      Like

  • BumpBailey

    Blaming Bradley for that goal is utterly rediculous, blame can be placed on 1/2 he team for that goal. Then blame Yedlin for not earning a corner or a throw in. That alone would have killed off the game. Bradley had a bad first touch and tried to keep possesion.. OUr defense should have been bunkered in at that point. Not chasing back. The blind hatred for two of our best three players, Bradley and Jones, just shows the ignorance of the posters on this booard. Without those two we get no where . We are exactly where we wanted to be at this point. It sucks that we didn;t get the full points out of this game but , who really thought we would’ve before this Cuip started? We are in the Driver’s seat to make it to the next round. We control our own destiny. I like where we sit.

    Like

    • bryan

      agreed. it was a comedy of mini-mistakes that led to a crucial mistake. i still don’t understand how with three defenders in the box, not one was closely marking the only Portugal player making a run. that, to me, is the bigger issue than Yedlin not earning a corner/throw in and Bradley not keeping the ball. did they all contribute? absolutely, but i don’t think attacking Bradley is fair.

      Like

  • BumpBailey

    Thats my point. Yedlin did a great job off the bench. Not blaming him at all. Just putting it on par with those fools blaming Bradley. Neither are at blame. Could they have done differently, sure. I just can’t wrap my head around the defensive blunder at that time of the game. Sure Cameron, Besler, Johnson and Beasley are all gassed. Thats why J.K. put Gonzales in. If I am Gonzo and I finally get my minutes, I aint lettting anyone beat me. Especially in the air(the only thing he is supposedly good at!). The bottom line is, all three central defenders got caught ball watching because they were chasing the play. They should’t have been chasing!

    Like

    • Alex H

      If I am Gonzo I don’t bother going to where 4 other defenders are because one of them would surely pick up a single runnier. This isn’t on Gonzo. It is on Cameron, you know the guy that replaced Gonzo because Gonzo would let people blow by him in the closing minutes of games.

      Like

    • Wilbur Kookmeyer

      Watch the Bradley fiasco at 1/15 speed on your DVR, and it will be clear as light that he had full control of the ball and failed to make the pass to FJ on his left, and instead put himself between the player and the ball. You will see the opposition had left their spaces to trap him so putting the ball into that voided space was the best decision he failed to make.

      Come back and report when you are done and we will see who the fools are.

      Like

  • Fredo

    Aside from Cameron & Jr. costing us points, Jürgen deserves some credit for having the team play well against Portugal.

    Like

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