Up 2-1 on Portugal on Sunday, the United States was seconds away from the impossible. With a win, the Americans would earn a spot in the knockout round of the World Cup — something no one that could happen in Group G, the Group of Death.
But after a Michael Bradley turnover in extra time, Portugal star Christiano Ronaldo came up big for his country. He hit a perfect pass to Varela, who sent a diving header behind US goalie Tim Howard to tie the game. Seconds later, the referee blew the whistle to end the game.
The American dream of advancing in the 2014 World Cup would have to be put on hold.
"Obviously we're disappointed, but at the end of the day you've got to look at the positives. We got a point," US captain Clint Dempsey said. "It's going down to the last game and hopefully we get the job done."
Portugal opened the scoring when Nani blasted a shot into the net in the fifth minute. Portugal dominated the first half and most of the second until US midfielder Jermaine Jones tied the game in the 64th minute on a blistering shot from nearly 25 yards in front of the net. Dempsey put the US ahead, 2-1, in the 81st minute after chipping in his second goal of the tournament.
From there, the Americans clamped down, playing solid defensive and keeping Ronaldo boxed up. But then came Bradley's turnover, which gave Ronaldo an opportunity. His laser pass to Varela, which led to the game-tying — and tournament-saving — goal was perfectly placed and showed why he's one of the best footballers in the world.
Ending the game in a 2-2 draw , especially n the final seconds of the match, is a setback for the US. Had they won Sunday, the Americans would have earned a place in the knockout round.
But there's still life for the Americans in the Group of Death.
The United States now has 4 points, tied for the top of the Group G standings with Germany. The two countries meet in the final match of group play on Thursday, and all each team needs to advance to the World Cup's sweet sixteen is a draw.
Some are already saying that the United States and Germany will agree to end on a draw to secure their places in the next round. But after the game, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann was having none of it.
"We want to recover fast and go at Germany and get three points and have seven points and be in the driving seat for the round of 16," Klinsmann said. "We have one less day to recover, we played in the Amazon, they played on a place with less travel. We have to do it the tough way."
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