The United States Men’s National Team just played the game of their lives, only to have two points stolen from them literally at the end of the match against Portugal. Geoff Cameron‘s failed clearance gave them their first goal before Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey potentially decided this at 2-1. Cristiano Ronaldo who was off his game assisted Varela‘s game-tying header.
The team played in a 4-5-1 as wingbacks Damarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson had to work hard on both ends of the ball all game long. The introduction of DeAndre Yedlin who is a right back like Johnson added speed which helped set up the USA’s second goal. Cameron was to blame for the first goal and partially for the second goal due to allowing Varela the space and time to dive and head the ball home past Tim Howard in goal. Jurgen Klinsmann brought in Omar Gonzalez as a third center back to clear the aerial danger, but that failed miserably on the counter.
Michael Bradley was arguably their second main player to blame for the draw as he missed the easiest chance of the game earlier when Portugal were still leading 1-0 — the ball fell to him in front of frame and he hit it right to the defender who cleared it off the line. In addition, he lost the ball that led to the counter which enabled the Portuguese to score their equalizer. Bradley has to shape up before Germany because errors like that against a team that is built on the counter will bury the US.
The good news for the US is that they, like every other nation, are still alive. A win or draw against Germany this Thursday in the final group game will guarantee advancement to the round of 16. If they lose and Ghana-Portugal ends in a draw, they will still push through as their four points will be more than the others’ two.
The US mainly has to worry about closing down on the counter. Losing the ball in midfield with everyone pressing can ruin an entire game plan. What they need to do is keep Jones and Kyle Beckerman near the midway line so that they can halt any danger. Fatigue played a factor today in what was going to be the USA’s first ever come-from-behind victory in their World Cup history. Unfortunately, 2-2 is the final score with heads still held high for Germany next week.