Miracles giveth and miracles taketh away.
The US national team was 30 seconds from pulling off another incredible victory, rallying from 1-0 down with two second-half goals and on the verge of clinching their spot in the knockout round of the World Cup. Then in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Cristiano Ronaldo whipped in a cross from the right side that was headed in by Silvestre Varela, beating Tim Howard for a 2-2 draw in Manaus.
Now the USMNT need to either beat or draw Germany on Thursday in their group-stage finale in Recife to guarantee their place in the Round of 16 without relying on the result between Portugal and Ghana, who will play at the same time in Brasilia.
NIGHTMARE START: It was shades of 2010 to start this one, after the US conceded in just the fifth minute when Geoff Cameron’s poor clearance put the ball right at the feet of Nani, who happily roofed the gift past Howard for a 1-0 lead. Fans were used to seeing this in South Africa, where the USMNT conceded early repeatedly. But it’s a bad habit that goes far beyond that:
DRINKS ON ME: In the 39th minute, Argentine referee Nestor Pitana pointed to the sidelines, giving the players from both teams the first water break we've seen at the 2014 World Cup. Italian coach Cesare Prandelli has been campaigning for it, especially after the match the Italians played in Manaus.
Water break is trending #WaterBreak— Mike Gramajo (@Mike_Gramajo) June 22, 2014
Over 32 degrees Celsius requires a water break? What will they do in Qatar, ice baths?— Baha (@LifeOfBaha) June 22, 2014
I DON’T ALWAYS SCORE GOALS – BUT WHEN I DO… The US had been attempting long drive after long drive in an attempt to bust through Portugal’s high line. To no avail. That is, until the 64th minute, when Jermaine Jones grabbed a loose ball near the top left corner of the box, took a couple steps to his right and unleashes a howitzer that landed in the corner of Beto’s net for an equalizer. It was only the Frankfurt native’s third goal in 44 appearances, but when he hits them, they sure count. Just ask Jamaica in the 2011 Gold Cup quarterfinals.
ALL-MLS GOAL: Clint Dempsey's strike in the 81st minute – his second in as many games – was an all-MLS goal. Seattle Sounders right back DeAndre Yedlin, who surprisingly came on as a sub just nine minutes before, got it all started.
Yedlin to Bradley to Zusi to Dempsey - GOAL. #MLS— Dan Courtemanche (@courtemancheMLS) June 22, 2014
Deandre is playing against ronaldo.... Let that sink in— David Olsen (@David__Olsen) June 22, 2014
WHAT ABOUT CRISTIANO? All the talk going in was about how the US had to be worried about Ronaldo. He didn't do much – a long distance shot in the 36th minute, a free kick over the bar in the 43rd and a nice dribbling move early on below – until the very end and the cross that led to the 2-2 equalizer in the 95th minute.
~ * • < $ illuminati $ > • * ~ pic.twitter.com/YI5nQ9P2RN— Rega Jha (@RegaJha) June 22, 2014
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jermaine Jones, USA. An easier call if not for Portugal's equalizer, but the hard-nosed midfielder put forth his second masterful performance in as many games by doing a little of everything: disrupting the Portguese attack, putting the studs to Ronaldo and unleashing a Goal of the World Cup-worthy strike to pull the US even.