MLS

U.S. draws with Portugal in World Cup

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
Jermaine Jones

MANAUS, Brazil - They were less than 30 seconds away.

The Americans were about to romp into the round of 16 at the World Cup, about to walk off with their first come-from-behind win at soccer's showcase. About to advance with a game to spare. About to win consecutive World Cup games for the first time since 1930.

But they wilted in the Amazon heat and humidity.

Varela's goal on a diving header off Cristiano Ronaldo's cross on the game's last play gave Portugal a 2-2 tie Sunday on an exhausting night in the rainforest capital.

“We had one foot in the door,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said.

Now the Americans might need at least a point Thursday against Germany to advance to the knockout stage. They could advance with a loss, depending on the result of the Portugal-Ghana game that will be played simultaneously.

Germany and the Americans both have four points, but the Germans have a better goal difference. Ghana, which lost 2-1 to the United States, has one point, as does Portugal.

The United States fell behind early, when Geoff Cameron's wayward clearance gifted Nani a fifth-minute goal.

But Jermaine Jones’ exquisite 28-yard shot tucked inside the far post in the 64th minute and Dempsey's goal off his stomach in the 86th put the Americans ahead 2-1. A screaming, pro-American majority in the crowd of 40,123 was ready to party late into the steamy night.

Then Varela beat Cameron to the cross, deflating the red-white-and-blue-clad fans.

“It was unfortunate,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “An amazing game. Nothing more that you can ask for.”

Just like four years ago, the Americans relied on a late push. But they couldn't sustain it.

Now it's onto Recife. Nothing is decided.

They could move on. Or after all this, they could be sent home.