BY Art Thiel 06:39PM 06/22/2014

Dempsey scores again, but Portugal rallies to tie

Sounder Clint Dempsey’s score for a 2-1 lead seemed enough, but Portugal struck in the 95th minute for a draw that made tougher the U.S. road to the World Cup knockout round.

Clint Dempsey scored his second goal at the World Cup, but Portugal salvaged a 2-2 tie Sunday in Manaus, Brazil. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

The Sounders’ delegation represented splendidly Sunday in the Brazilian jungle, helping shove the U.S. National Team to the brink of an astonishing advance to the knockout round of the World Cup. But at nearly the last moment of the 95th minute, Portugal scored the equalizer for a 2-2 draw that deflated a national celebration, yet still left the door open to advance.

The U.S. (1-0-1) can reach the round of 16 with a win or a draw against Germany starting at 9 a.m. PT Thursday, but the route looked much less arduous in the 81st minute after the Sounders’ Clint Dempsey, playing with a broken nose and without a mask, directed a point-blank shot off his abdomen into the net from Graham Zusi’s cross.

Zusi drew the start from coach Jurgen Klinsmann, replacing injured striker Jozy Altidore with a midfielder and trusting Dempsey, the team captain, to go it alone up top.

The 2-1 lead in the hot, humid Amazon city of Manaus faded in the final 30 seconds as Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo, who until then had a mediocre performance for the world’s greatest player, delivered a brilliant cross to a streaking Silvestre Varela, who headed the ball from eight yards past shocked goalkeeper Tim Howard.

The score kept alive the Cup chances of Portugal, ranked fourth in the world entering Brazil, after a humiliating 4-0 loss to Germany in its opener. It turned the U.S. anticipation into what felt like a heartbreaking loss, even though most American fans a week ago would have been happy with four points through the first two games.

Entering in the 72nd minute for his first World Cup experience was the Sounders’ DeAndre Yedlin, the 20-year-old defender from Seattle’s O’Dea High School who seemed unlikely to see action. But he responded well with several clean touches and helped set up Dempsey’s go-ahead score.

Yedlin ran down a ball that nearly crossed the endline off the far post and centered the ball in front of the goal out 15 yards, where it deflected twice before Zusi gathered on the left flank for the pass that led to Dempsey’s second goal of the tournament.

The play appeared to complete a turnaround from a start that looked devastating to the U.S., which surprised many with its 2-1 win over Ghana in the opener. A terrible clearance by defender Geoff Cameron ended up at the feet of Portuguese star Nani, who took advantage with a score in the fifth minute.

The U.S. rallied with a much stronger attack than its tepid show against Ghana, having nine shots by halftime after getting eight total in the opener. But it remained 1-0 until the 64th minute, when Jermaine Jones boomed a shot from 25 yards that blew past goalkeeper Beto.

Portugal poured on the pressure and U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann subbed in defenders, but it appeared he had pressed all the right buttons — at least from the the fifth minute to the 95th.

The U.S. can even advance with a loss if Portugal and Ghana tie in game that will be played simultaneously. Here are the scenarios, per ESPN:

  • Germany: Advance with win/draw vs. USA
    U.S.: Advance with win/draw vs. GER
    Portugal: Advance with win vs. GHA and GER/USA do not tie, if POR wins tiebreaker with loser (see below)
    Ghana: Advance with win vs. POR and GER/USA do not tie, if GHA wins tiebreaker with loser (see below)

U.S. scenarios

  • Win/draw vs. Germany
    Loss and Portugal-Ghana draw
    Loss and win tiebreaker vs. Portugal-Ghana winner

Tiebreakers

If the U.S. loses, Ghana would qualify instead, if either game is decided by a margin of two goals or more. If the U.S. loses by one goal, Ghana would need to win by two goals or be involved in a higher-scoring, one-goal win. For instance, a 1-0 scoreline in both games would put the U.S. through on head-to-head. So, if the U.S. loses 1-0, then Ghana must win 2-1 to qualify on goals scored.

To surpass the U.S., Portugal needs a goal-difference swing of five (head-to-head is level). So for instance, Portugal would need to win 3-0 and U.S. lose 2-0, among other equivalent scorelines. The teams will draw lots if goal difference is identical (this would happen with a 3-0 U.S. defeat and a 2-0 Portugal win, for example).


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YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    Okay, I admit I’m greedy. I wanted the win and they were THIS close to getting it. Props to Portugal for scoring when they had to but they easily could have been tagged with a loss.

    I’m thrilled that Yedlin got in and contributed. It’ll be interesting to see how his career develops after all this because it looks to me he’s taking everything in and learning from it all.

    • art thiel

      Yes, you’re greedy. You’ll go crazy in soccer playing the woulda-shoulda game.

      • jafabian

        Just how I am. I’ve played since grade school. I’m nearly 50 and I still do that to games I’ve played in!

  • 3 Lions

    Great game!
    Nice to see Yedlin get in & contribute. Dempsey is a rock.
    That was a gritty performance against a talented team in difficult conditions.

    • jafabian

      IMO, they should have won 3-1. Bradley should have a goal but he pracitcially passed it to the defender in the goal. Then in the final minute he lost the ball while dribbling it around. He should have passed off. If they just played keep-away in that minute they’d have won the match.

    • art thiel

      Soccer made a lot of friends in America Sunday.

  • poulsbogary

    Sort of a double-edged sword for us on yedlin. If he gets better, and it seems that he will, then he leaves us for greener pastures in Europe.

    • art thiel

      Yeah, that’s always the threat with the best Americans. The good thing is that the better Americans are returning sooner to the U.S. with the bigger money for DPs.

      • RadioGuy

        Excellent point, Art. One of the problems with MLS has been the lack of money for the cream of American talent, who choose to go overseas and make better coin instead (even when, in some cases, they’re riding the pines or playing for the Reserves in Europe). As you mentioned, the DP slots allow teams to offer competitive salaries to American players, who are usually improved when they return because they’ve been playing against higher levels of competition. It’s a win-win.

        I’ve been, uhh, “dubious” about the level of play in MLS for some time, but it IS improving and one reason is that better players are coming home.

  • Buggy White

    Conspiracy theory – after the TV announcer said they would add 4 minutes of ‘extra time,” the sign guy on the sidelines put up 5 minutes…? Never heard any comment from the booth, either! Interesting?

    • art thiel

      The guess is the 90th minute sub of Gonzalez tacked on the extra minute. A defensive move, which was all the more aggravating for U.S. fans because Gonzalez was out of position on Ronaldo’s final cross.

  • RadioGuy

    Never thought I’d see the day when we call a tie with the world’s fourth-ranked side a “heartbreaker,” but this surely was. Give the Portuguese credit for getting the draw when they absolutely had to. Beautiful goal by Jones, who totally caught Beto flat-footed from well out in front. Was Beto screened? He hardly moved.

    Anyway, our destiny is in our own hands. Which Germany will we see? The team that destroyed Portugal or the one that drew with Ghana? Man, they aren’t calling this the “Group of Death” for nothing. There are other groups that any of these four teams could have run the table on.

    • art thiel

      Klinsmann cringed at the draw. But the Yanks have exceeded expectations.

  • Kim

    We should have lost that game. I understand it was a very humid Inviroment but we didn’t move well without the ball & our passing was cringe worthy. As sweet as a win would have been we should be thrilled with this tie.

  • Jeff Shope

    oh goodie soccer and another tie the official sport of participation ribbon loving liberals