A lot of questions will be asked following the match between Portugal and the United States in the 2014 World Cup group stage. Why were the announcers saying four minutes of stoppage time only for five minutes to be put on the board? Why was Omar Gonzalez subbed into the match ultimately in this writer's opinion breaking the communication built throughout the match between Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler? Why was Brad Davis not listed on the bench? Why was Graham Zusi left in the match for so long? Why did Michael Bradley not hoof the ball down field on the possession which directly led to the equalizing goal in the final moments of injury time?
So many questions, and so very few answers at the moment. What I can say is going into this match, and even into this World Cup, most fans would have taken a draw in this match. It is precisely what the US Men's National Team earned in this match, a draw against one of the best teams in the world. They also earned something else. Respect from the rest of the world.
Sure, people will say the goal given up in the last few seconds of stoppage time of the second half should never have happened, but there are a lot of soccer fans out there right now who turned a blind eye to the US prior to this World Cup now taking notice.
I said once the World Cup draw placed the United States into Group G with Germany, Ghana and Portugal the team simply needed to show up for all three matches. They needed to come in and show they could hang with the big dogs, and they've already done that and so much more. They took Ghana to the limit, and won. They showed they could hang with a desperate Portugal team, even when being down a goal for a good portion of the match. This team has shown they belong at the highest level, and for that I am most thankful and satisfied no matter the result on Thursday against Germany.
I know this recap has been more opinion-based than fact-based, so let me give you the quick breakdown of the goals. In the 5th minute, Geoff Cameron whiffed on trying to clear a ball into the box from the left which fell to Nani. Nani subsequently placed the ball with emphasis past Tim Howard. The first half saw plenty of chances both ways, but with neither team capable of putting one into the goal. Portugal pressed on the counter attack as many expected they would once they went up, but it was Jermaine Jones whose 64th minute shot from outside the box found the back of the net. It was a glorious goal, and a shot which many lauded as simply magnificent.
Both teams pushed and pushed, counter attack immediately countered with another. Eventually, in the 81st minute, Clint Dempsey off a DeAndre Yedlin run that was superb netted the second US goal, and it was a beautiful scrappy team goal. The US looked to be well on their way to the win, but Portugal had other ideas. At the 95th minute, the final minute of stoppage time, Michael Bradley failed to get rid of a ball anywhere at all to kill off the clock, and Eder took possession fed to Cristiano Ronaldo whose cross was sublime to the diving head of Silvestre Valera and past a flailing Tim Howard. At the death never felt so true.
We didn't crack when we went down a goal early. We didn't sit back when we drew level. We nearly killed off Portugal entirely from this World Cup, save for a final thirty seconds. This may be the Group of Death, but this team has stared into the face of death and shown themselves worthy.
There were plenty of talking points as I alluded to above, but these points ache for discussion not just my personal analysis. So, what did you think and what did you key on?