Just when it looked like the USA were going through to the knockout stage, a poor defensive play cost them again.
Geoff Cameron allowed Varela to sneak behind him and head home the equalizer with just seconds to go in the game. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of the Americans, who appeared set to complete the first comeback victory at the World Cup in the history of US Soccer.
The game got off to a very difficult start, as just over four minutes into the game a flubbed clearance by Cameron landed right at the waiting feet of Nani, who hammered home the finish to give Portugal an early lead:
Things could have been even worse, as Portugal threatened just before the half. USA goalkeeper Tim Howard was equal to the task however, making a brilliant stop to keep the deficit at one:
The Americans finally broke through in the 64th minute, though, on a breathtaking strike from midfielder Jermaine Jones. Not normally known for his scoring prowess, Jones cut inside and unleashed an absolute cracker that blew past a stunned Beto in the Portugal goal:
The teams battled back and forth to gain the upper hand, with both teams making numerous sloppy errors and clearly wilting in the crippling Amazon humidity. The Americans were able to capitalize on some Portuguese sloppiness at the back, as substitute Deandre Yedlin’s cross was deflected to Michael Bradley, whose pass squirted through two defenders to Graham Zusi, who found a waiting Clint Dempsey on the far post:
The Americans were in dream land, and as the clock wound down in injury time it looked like they were going to take a 2-1 win and clinch a spot in the knockout stage. But let your guard down for even a second, and a good team will punish you. Cristiano Ronaldo had the ball at his feet and room to serve it into the box, which proved to be enough for Portugal to level the game:
Varela’s goal proved to be the last play of the game. While the result feels hollow, the reality is that getting a point out of this game is an OK result for the Americans. They remain in control of their own destiny heading into their match against Germany, and ensure a place in the knockout stage by getting a win or a tie. Even in the event they don’t win, they can still go through if Portugal and Ghana tie, or the winner has a worse goal differential than the USA.
Take a deep breath, America. This is disappointing, but everything is going to be OK.