By: Dan Leach
In the sweltering heat and humidity of Manaus, Brazil the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team not only matched the heat, but made their own in spades. This World Cup run continues to prove to be a seminal moment in U.S soccer history as the team had been out of the group stage twice before in the modern World Cup format, but something that started brewing with the win over Ghana this year, continued against Portugal.
Team USA continues to show more and more they not only belong on the World stage, but that they are here to stay. It was heartbreak city early as Portugal’s Nani scored a shocker in the 5th minute, much in the reverse of what happened for the USMNT against Ghana. If the U.S wanted to go thru the to the knockout round today, they would have to attempt to come back and win for the first time in 20 games of World Cup history.
The task would be enormous against the 4th ranked team in the World, but it seems more and more this time around that the USMNT is up to that task and afraid of no one.
As the second half began you could feel Team USA gaining more and more momentum and coach Jurgen Klinsmann pushing all the right buttons. After a couple of golden opportunities, including a Michael Bradley point-blank heartbreak that wanted so badly to go in. In the 64th minute, Team USA would get one of the great equalizer in its World Cup history with an absolute Earth shattering cracker off the foot of Jermaine Jones.
Now all the momentum was clearly in the U.S’s favor and in years past just getting a draw in this spot would have seemed a delight for the Americans. It is becoming very apparent this is not your father’s USMNT as in the 81st minute Captain Dempsey, doing his best Superman impression scored on an absolute beautiful set up from Bradley and cross from Graham Zusi. It appeared that Team USA would get one of their biggest wins in World Cup History and get through to the Knockout stage after just two games for the first time ever.
If we have learned anything from this World Cup where there have already been quadruple the amount of comebacks already then in the entire 2010 World Cup in South Africa, it is never over till the final whistle blows.
Team USA had controlled one of the World’s best in Cristiano Ronaldo for 94 painstaking minutes, but his brilliant cross to Varela in the games waning seconds saved Portugal from certain death.
It was a heartbreaker for U.S. fans, but not one of them should hold their heads low after yet another tremendous performance on the biggest stage in sport. This World Cup continues to be a tipping point for U.S. soccer and it is just going to take three games instead of two to send the USMNT into the stratosphere and into a chance to truly make history.
How could you not be proud to be an American after a performance that showed so many millions why soccer is such a beautiful game and why Team USA is leading a charge to bring “The Beautiful Game” into the hearts of so many that did not even know how life changing it can be.
Thursday’s “Everything on The Table” clash with Germany can’t come soon enough and Tim the Tool Man Taylor’s words could not ring more true!