The U.S. was just seconds from clinching a berth in the round of 16, but a late equalizer means Jurgen Klinsmann's men will have to wait.The good
USA resilience: Three times the U.S. has been hit by sucker-punch goals in this World Cup, and twice Jurgen Klinsmann’s men have found a way to battle back (they didn't have any time to do so on Portugal's equalizer). Against Ghana, it took only minutes to bounce back from a late Andre Ayew equalizer. John Brooks scored his now-famous header off a corner kick to give the U.S. the win just four minutes later.
Against Portugal, Klinsmann’s men showed even more impressive heart and determination. After conceding an awful early goal from Geoff Cameron’s botched clearance, the USA struck back at Portugal immediately. Although they didn’t find an equalizing goal in the first half, the Yanks created a number of dangerous chances. As the second half began and the Manaus heat and humidity started to take a toll, the USA pressed on.
After Michael Bradley’s shot was incredibly cleared off the line by Ricardo Costa, Jermaine Jones finally broke through after his brilliant curling shot found the far corner. Not content to hold on for a draw, the U.S. pressed on. DeAndre Yedlin’s introduction turned out to be a prescient move by Klinsmann, as he helped set up Clint Dempsey’s go-ahead goal. Unfortunately, a win was not in the cards after a late Portugal equalizer.
Michael Bradley: After a sub-par game against Ghana, Bradley bounced back on Sunday night, looking more like the class player he was expected to be going into the tournament. Unfortunately for the Toronto FC midfielder, his night will be remembered for two glaring mistakes.
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Bradley should have opened the American scoring after a great move 10 minutes into the second half, but after a cutback from Fabian Johnson, his close-range shot went straight down the middle of the goal – and right into Ricardo Costa.
With just seconds to go and the U.S. up a goal, Bradley made a fatal error. With plenty of time and space in the middle of the field, Bradley carelessly gave the ball back to Portugal. Seconds later, the ball was in the back of Tim Howard’s net and the USA’s spot in the round of 16 had disappeared. Bradley had a late giveaway against Ghana with seconds to go which didn’t cost his team. The same scenario played out against Portugal and this time, it cost the U.S. dearly.
Geoff Cameron’s clearance: It was the sort of play that happens several times every game: a hopeful cross is played in the box, with no particular target in mind. After Cameron’s early lapse in concentration, the mundane turned into a devastating opening goal for Portugal.
The Stoke City defender, who was so solid against Ghana, made a cardinal sin and lost his concentration. His clearance went directly sideways to the grateful Nani, who was on the doorstep. Not even a player as starved for goals as Nani could have missed the chance, and Portugal was up 1-0 within five minutes. It almost proved inconsequential, but thanks to Silvestre Varela’s late equalizer, it could cost the U.S. a spot in the last 16.