BOSTON (CBS) – After roughly 100 minutes of action between regulation play and stoppage time the United States Men’s National Team played to a 2-2 draw with Portugal on Sunday night in dramatic, some would say heartbreaking fashion.
Portugal jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after Attleboro’s own Geoff Cameron misplayed an attempt to clear the ball. The ball sliced off his foot and went directly to Portugal’s Nani, who fired it in from point blank range past Tim Howard in the fifth minute.
The USMNT settled in nicely in the second frame and got goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey to take the lead, but in the final seconds of stoppage time Cristiano Ronaldo set up a perfect cross for teammate Silvestre Varela to head it in.
Instead of beating Portugal and advancing to the knockout rounds the US had to settle for a tie, which sets up for a pivotal match against Germany that will ultimately decide their fate.
New England Revolution general manager Mike Burns came on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show Monday morning, filling in for Toucher & Rich, to dissect USA-Portugal as well as look ahead to Thursday’s afternoon showdown with Germany.
“It’s hard. I’m sure there’s a ton of emotion going through the team. If you said before the tournament you’d get four points after two games in this group, I’m sure the coaching staff and players would have signed up for it. To be literally seconds away from clinching a spot after the second game, you can’t help but think what might have been.
“It’s tough. But in this tournament, playing again on Thursday, they don’t have the luxury of sitting back and analyzing. They have to as best they can put it behind them and concentrate on Germany. I’m sure it feels like a loss instead of a point to them. For anyone that plays soccer you’re gonna play in games that are won or lost in the final seconds, it’s just unfortunate it had to happen to the US last night.”
Burns added that soccer is “a funny game sometimes” and noted the main takeaway after two World Cup matches, something that fans waking up this morning are now well aware of.
“I thought they played better last night and only got a point than they did against Ghana and got three points. Sometimes how you play is not indicative of the scoreline. If you look at the two games I thought the US played much better against Portugal, which is a top five team according to the FIFA world rankings. You can’t predict it sometimes.”
USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley has come under fire for his play through two games. The Toronto FC star missed a wide open net from six yards out in the 56th minute and the equalizing goal came as a direct result of Bradley being easily pushed off the ball. The turnover led to a Portugal breakout and the rest is history.
Burns said that Bradley is “an excellent player” but all of his mistakes are being magnified under the microscope of the World Cup. Burns expects Bradley to bounce back against Germany because “he’s as mentally strong as any player they have.”
Speaking of Germany, who has all but clinched their way to the round of 16, Burns doesn’t expect them to take their foot off the gas and take it easy on the US because “it’s not in their makeup.”
The US needs either a win or a draw against the Germans to advance, and even with a loss there’s a scenario where they can move on.
If Team USA loses to Germany fans of the USMNT would then need to root for Portugal (-4), because it’s unlikely they’ll pass the US (+1) on goal differential. Ghana (-1) with a decisive win over Portugal could easily pass the US in goals. A Portugal-Ghana draw would also mean the US advances.
“US will play smart against Germany. They’ll try to keep it compact and try to catch Germany on the counter. Expect Germany to have more possession of the ball. It’ll be the same formation as the first two games. I don’t see [head coach] Jurgen Klinsmann making any changes,” said Burns.
When pressed for a prediction, Burns said the US will tie Germany and both teams will advance.
Listen below for the full discussion: