Final, 2-2: It’s all over in Manaus. The United States and Portugal have played to a thrilling draw.
Right when it looked like the United States would dance into the knockout rounds, Portugal stopped the music and snatched its share of the spoils. Varela’s last-second goal eliminated the Americans’ advantage, kept his team in the tournament and postponed Team USA’s party.
After conceding Nani’s early goal, the United States outplayed Portugal for much of the game. Team USA showed explosiveness, quality and personality Klinsmann and fans had hoped to see, but also demonstrated a defensive naivety that should be cause for concern.
The stifling heat and the frenetic pace of the game left players running on empty, as the game approached its conclusion. Portugal had enough energy to launch one last attack, which caught the Americans off guard and ultimately left them stunned.
The result means the United States must wait until Thursday — the final day of group-stage action — to learn whether it will escape the “Group of Death.” The U.S. faces Germany in a meeting between the two teams that are tied atop Group G with four points apiece. Ghana and Portugal, who play each other at the same time, both must win in order to survive, as they each have one point.
That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.
90th minute +5, 2-2: Varela scores the game-tying goal deep in second-half stoppage time.
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It came from a counter-attack on the right. Ronaldo swung a hard cross into the U.S. area, and Varela met it with a diving header, which beat the helpless Howard.
Varela out-raced Cameron to the spot to which Ronaldo delivered the cross.
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90th minute +1, 2-1 United States: Gonzalez replaces Zusi in Team USA’s third and final substitution.
The fourth official indicates that there will be five minutes of extra time.
90th minute, 2-1 United States: Alves nearly scores an acrobatic equalizer, but his shot misses at the near post.
89th minute, 2-1 United States: Ronaldo rises to meet a cross from Moutinho, but his header rolls wide of the Americans’ goal.
87th minute, 2-1 United States: Wondolowski comes on for Dempsey, who is hobbling off the field.
83rd minute, 2-1 United States: Beasley is down on the field clutching his knee.
81st minute, 2-1 United States: Dempsey scores, and the U.S. looks like it’s bound for the knockout rounds of the 2014 World Cup.
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Yedlin passed into the penalty area for Bradley, but the U.S. midfielder couldn’t control it. The ball then fell to Zusi, who lofted a deft cross into the goal-mouth, and Dempsey ushered it over the line with his stomach.
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80th minute, 1-1: Nani cuts inside and shoots, but his powerful effort misses the goal.
79th minute, 1-1: Besler is back in the game.
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77th minute, 1-1: Besler makes a play on a loose ball but is now staying on the ground. Brooks is warming up on the sidelines.
It looked like Besler’s knee was caught underneath him, as he slid to intercept a pass.
75th minute, 1-1: Jones is cautioned for a late tackle on Moutinho.
72nd minute 1-1: Klinsmann is responding with a substitution.
Yedlin replaces Bedoya. Johnson likely will move up to the right wing, while Yedlin slots in behind him at right back.
69th minute, 1-1: Portugal is making its third and final substitution of the game, bringing on Varela for Meireles.
66th minute, 1-1: Howard makes another fantastic save. This time he tipped a cross to Meireles, who shot gratefully from eight yards out only for the U.S. goalkeeper to turn it away.
64th minute, 1-1: Jones ties it with a wonder-goal.
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The American midfielder unleashed a right-footed rocket after a cleared corner kick fell to him. Jones created space by touching the ball around Nani before launching a curling effort past Beto.
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62nd minute, 1-0 Portugal: Ronaldo fires wide after breaking free on the right side.
60th minute, 1-0 Portugal: The Americans continue to pressure Portugal without seeing the reward of a goal. This time, Jones shoots on goal, but Alves blocks it.
55th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Team USA has a golden opportunity to score, but Costa blocks Bradley’s shot off the goal line.
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Johnson created the opening on the right with his speed and cut-back pass to the U.S. midfielder.
Bradley had an open goal at his mercy, but his shot wasn’t clinical enough and went right at Costa.
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48th minute, 1-0 Portugal: After a game of pinball between Besler and Cameron in the American penalty area, the ball comes to Eder, whose acrobatic effort sails over the crossbar.
46th minute, 1-0 Portugal: The second half is underway.
Portugal made a change during the interval, replacing Almeida with Carvalho. Veloso moves from his defensive midfield position to right back.
Halftime, 1-0 Portugal: That’s the end of the first half. Portugal leads by one.
The United States is trailing at the break, but the Americans head to the locker room with a sense of confidence after flexing their muscles against a (nominally) stronger opponent for much of the first half. Nani’s goal could have deflated Team USA and it legions of fans at the Arena Amazonia, but the Americans responded by seizing the initiative and repeatedly pressuring the Portugal defense.
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Portugal is having problems with the Americans’ speed on the flanks and direct approach. Dempsey has breached its back line more than once, and his teammates aren’t shy about teeing up shots from outside the penalty area.
The lead gives Portugal the luxury of absorbing pressure in its own half, while the United States exerts itself going forward. Portugal then can launch counter-attacks into the open space to create scoring opportunities. Something it does better than most teams in the soccer world. Ask Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sweden.
45th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Howard saves himself and keeps the scoreline as is.
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Nani shot first. Howard flubbed the save attempt, and the shot hit the post. Eder then tried to put the rebound past Howard, but the American goalkeeper made a great save on his left side, despite falling to his right.
42nd minute, 1-0 Portugal: Howard makes a confident save on Nani’s drive from 20 yards out.
Ronaldo created the chance on the counter-attack, setting up Nani with a cross-field pass.
40th minute, 1-0 Portugal: The referee temporarily stops the game. It looks like he did it so the players could take a water break. Strange but true.
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35th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Jones tests Beto with a rolling, long-range shot. The Portugal goalkeeper makes a comfortable save.
32nd minute, 1-0 Portugal: Johnson rips a left-footed shot from distance, but it goes wide.
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The United States is causing Portugal problems with its speed and direct approach on the counter-attack. Portugal is winning the game, but the U.S. looks more likely to score the next goal.
29th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Bradley’s left-footed shot from 25 yards out rolls wide of both the diving Beto and the goal.
27th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Dempsey is on the march once again.
The U.S. captain breached the Portugal defense and shot, but Costa blocks it out for a corner kick.
24th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Bradley nearly ties it up with a long-distance shot but grazes the crossbar.
21st minute, 1-0 Portugal: Portugal is reasserting control, but the United States remains dangerous.
Portugal is attacking in numbers, but the United States, Bradley in particular, is passing straight to Dempsey, who is creating scoring chances on his own.
17th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Bradley puts Dempsey in with a well-weighted through-ball, but the U.S. captain can’t beat Beto with his shot.
The United States responded well to Nani’s goal and is putting Portugal under heavy pressure.
16th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Postiga can’t continue. He’s injured. Eder takes his place.
13th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Dempsey curls a free kick a little wide of Beto’s goal. Dempsey’s effort beat the wall and the goalkeeper but slightly missed the target.
Ninth minute, 1-0 Portugal: This is the kind of start the United States simply couldn’t’ afford to have.
The early goal gives Portugal the luxury of playing with the lead, and the United States must start chasing the game early. Team USA probably will do more running than it wanted to, which could lead to problems (in the weather conditions) as the game progresses.
Fifth minute, 1-0 Portugal: It’s a disaster at the back for the Americans, and Nani punishes them with an early goal.
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Veloso hit an cross into the United States area that should have caused n odanger, but Cameron’s sliced clearance fell straight to Nani, who collected it, sized up the goal for what seemed like an eternity then fired it home from seven yards out.
Fourth minute, 0-0: Portugal has dominated possession so far, but the United States is maintaining its defensive shape and preventing the Portuguese from entering its third of the field.
First minute, 0-0: The Group G game between the United States and Portugal is underway at Arena Amazonia.
Kickoff: The teams are coming onto the field, and the anthems are about to begin.
It’s hot in Manaus — 88 degrees (31 Celsius) and 62 percent humidity, according to FIFA.com.
Pregame: Klinsmann’s selections suggest that he’s sticking with the same approach he used against Ghana.
The only change is up front. Dempsey moves forward to replace the injured Altidore. Zusi comes into the starting 11 and will play on the left side of the midfield.
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Team USA already showed its winning mentality against Ghana. Now, we’d like to see the United States keep that mindset in place while demonstrating those other qualities that carried them to this point. Qualities that will help them earn a result and warrant the adulation and attention the country is currently giving them.
But the field conditions could make that difficult.
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Portugal head coach Paolo Bento has done his best to fill holes in his lineup. Andre Almeida and Costa replace Coentrao and Pepe, respectively. Postiga starts up front in place of the injured Hugo Almeida.
Ronaldo also is included in the starting 11. Portugal hopes he raises his goals-to-shots ratio when he faces the United States.
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5:30 p.m.: Here are the lineups:
Tim Howard (1), goalkeeper
DaMarcus Beasley (7), left back
Matt Besler (5), center back
Geoff Cameron (20), center back
Fabian Johnson (23), right back
Jermaine Jones (13), midfielder
Kyle Beckerman (15), midfielder
Michael Bradley (4), midfielder
Alejandro Bedoya (11), midfielder
Graham Zusi (19), midfielder
Clint Dempsey (8), striker
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Brad Guzan (12), goalkeeper
Nick Rimando (22), goalkeeper
Omar Gonzalez (3), defender
John Anthony Brooks (6), defender
Tim Chandler (21), defender
DeAndre Yedlin (2), defender
Brad Davis (14), midfielder
Mikkel Diskerud (10), midfielder
Julian Green (16), forward
Aaron Johannsson (9), striker
Chris Wondolowski (18), striker
Beto (22), goalkeeper
Andre Almeida (19), left back
Ricardo Costa (13), center back
Bruno Alves (2), center back
Joao Pereira (21), right back
Miguel Veloso (4), midfielder
Rauel Meireles (16), midfielder
Joao Moutinho (8), midfielder
Cristiano Ronaldo (7), forward
Nani (17), forward
Helder Postiga (23), striker
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Eduardo (1), goalkeeper
Neto (14), defender
Varela (18), midfielder
Ruben Amorim (20), midfielder
William Carvalho (6), midfielder
Vieririnha (10), forward
Rafa (15), forward
Varela (18), forward
Eder (11), striker
3 p.m. ET: The United States’ men’s national soccer team has already reached a crossroad in its journey at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and its performance at this Amazonian juncture could determine its fate.
The United States takes on Portugal at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, on Sunday in the teams’ second game in Group G, the so-called “Group of Death.” Team USA can advance to knockout rounds and eliminate Portugal from contention with a victory. A loss or draw will make the waters murkier.
USA-Portugal will take place in the extreme weather of Manaus. The temperature is expected to be in the mid to high 80s with over 60 percent humidity at kickoff. United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann says his team is “well prepared” for the conditions, but the heat and humidity certainly will take its toll on both sides.
The soccer world will be watching Cristiano Ronaldo closely. The Portuguese superstar will start against the Americans despite battling a knee injury. Portugal is depending on Ronaldo to perform better than he did in the 4-0 loss to Germany in its tournament opener. Its World Cup survival is at stake.
Portugal also will be without suspended center back Pepe, injured fullback Fabio Coentrao and injured striker Hugo Almeida. United States striker Jozy Altidore will miss the game due to a hamstring injury.
The game starts at 6 p.m. Stay right here for all the action from the Arena Amazonia.
Photo via USA Today Sports Images