The United States missed its chance for first in its group and advancement to Round of 16 thanks to Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo but strengthened its World Cup hopes nonetheless, drawing a 2-2 tie against Portugal Sunday.
Ronaldo was inconsistent throughout the match but the one ball he struck landed perfectly on the head of midfielder Varela in the 95th minute of play to keep Portugal alive.
The U.S. maintains second in Group G behind Germany, but isn’t guaranteed a spot in the knockout stage with Portugal and Ghana still in contention.
After early struggles and down at the half, the Yanks didn’t panic and midfielder Jermaine Jones erased the one goal deficit in the 64th minute with an incredible strike from outside the box.
Forward Clint Dempsey would then body his second goal of the tournament into the net in the 81st minute and gave the U.S. a lead that seemed impossible for Portugal to overcome.
With people around the globe going to great lengths just to watch the critical match, U.S. supporters and media took to Twitter throughout the match and five minutes in they were quick to deride the Yanks poor early play.
— Juan Pablo Galavis™ (@JuanPaGalavis) June 22, 2014
Teams are out on the field and the Star-Spangled Banner is playing. Incredible noise from the #USMNT fans…Everybody singing.
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) June 22, 2014
"GHANA, PORTUGAL, AND GERMANY. THEY MAY ALL BE BETTER THAN US ON PAPER, BUT WE'LL GET A CHACE TO HAVE OUR SAY" -Michael Bradley #TeamUSA
â€” Smack High™ Arizona (@SMACKHighAZ) June 22, 2014
All set for #USAvsPortugal. Drinking a Mexican beer, watching on a TV made in China, and tweeting on a phone from Taiwan. Go USA!
— T.J. Holmes (@tjholmes) June 22, 2014
There was of course a split between those who adore Ronaldo, and those who never miss an opportunity to bash him.
Cristiano Ronaldo reads twilight
— Nick Parr (@Parrfection8) June 22, 2014
I just want cristiano ronaldo to cry thats all
— 5SOS Updates (@5SOS_Update) June 22, 2014
Typical girl tweet but I would have Cristiano Ronaldo's babies anyday
— Kara Komondor (@idontkaraa) June 22, 2014
"I'm watching the game because Cristiano Ronaldo is a beautiful human." - Jon Smith
— Payton Smith (@payton_noel) June 22, 2014
Portugal forward Nani’s goal in front of the net exploited poor clearance play from the U.S. backline and supporters ripped into defender Geoff Cameron and goalkeeper Tim Howard.
The Portuguese were quicker to the ball, and played with far more immediacy early. Also the glaring talent gap and overall skill advantage of Portugal was clear from the get go, and fans even took a shot at U.S. women's team goalie Hope Solo.
hope solo would kick all these guys' asses. #teamusa
— hot and bravoed (@hotandbravoed) June 22, 2014
Amidst the sweltering and humid weather conditions, ESPN dropped a pun after U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinnsman called for a water break late in the first half.
A two goal deficit before the intermission would have devastated the U.S., but Howard would later win supporters back with his two incredible saves off shots from Eder and Nani again during added time in the first half.
Tim Howard you are a GOD
— Sam Boggs (@TheSamBoggs) June 22, 2014
Tim Howard. Whew
— Newy Scruggs (@newyscruggs) June 22, 2014
In need of some heroics as the second half began, fans also wondered when defender John Brooks would swoop in like he did against Ghana.
All we need is to bring in the new president John Brooks. He did it against Ghana. Why couldn't he do it against Portugal?
— JarrahVW (@JarrahVW) June 22, 2014
— Kyle McCaskey (@Kylemccaskey) June 22, 2014
Second half strategy for Team U.S.A. - Put John Brooks in.
— Chris Plantone (@Plantone_18) June 22, 2014
Midfielder Michael Bradley came up with the best chance for the U.S. to tie it up, but Ricardo Costa denied him.
"IS THAT GOAL REGULATION SIZE OR WHAT?!?!?!?!" - Michael Bradley
— Happy Gilmore (@_Happy_Gilmore) June 22, 2014
With his injured left knee probably acting up, Ronaldo also took a ton of heat about his dives and defense.
Cristiano Ronaldo is Embarrassing Himself
— USA World Cup (@AmericaWorldCup) June 22, 2014
Didn't know Jermaine Jones had that in him. Remarkable. 1-1.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 22, 2014
Exclusive photo of Jermaine Jones' goal vs. Portugal pic.twitter.com/qYAJnisLEQ
â€” John Wyatt Haskell (@johnwhaskell) June 22, 2014
And while fans first grew impatient with Ronaldo, he certainly pulled through in the end with "A Song of Fire And Ice" author George R.R. Martin summing things up.
Cristiano Ronaldo fans waiting for Cr7 to score a goal in this World Cup like pic.twitter.com/u1rmcO4T4E
— Rak city bitch (@Nikomarvel) June 23, 2014