Sirens on full volume

Weirdness continued, Sunday; the middle game between Algeria and South Korea was also on ABC, and was completely missed.  The late game, though, despite having the US in it, went back to ESPN.  Good for me, but weird, in general.

So I was able to watch it very late, which was much better than not at all.

It started out very poorly for the Americans, with a very poor defensive play by the right back giving Nani an easy goal in the fifth minute (his first goal of the year, across all competitions; I knew he'd had an off year, but didn't realize how much so).

And for a few minutes thereafter, the Americans looked as bad against the Portuguese as they had for most of the Ghana game.

In the fourteenth, there was some contact weirdness.  First, Mereira went down in a really terrible dive, rightly ignored.  But while the staff came out to look at him, Postiga had to leave the field with an injury.  No contact there, so I assume it was a hamstring pull, or something similar.

But the US settled down (important for a team that had never won after surrendering the first goal), and by the 36th minute, possession was only 56-44 in favor of Portugal.  Not to imply that was a big surprise, the US was only finding offense by going over the top.  And their shots were mostly from distance; the only in-close ones were blocked by the defenders.

Shortly after that, we had the first ref-called water break of the tournament that stopped play for a couple of minutes.

In the forty-fifth, Howard was called on to make a pair of saves.  The first he made well, tipping it off the post, but was offbalance, and had to stretch to tip the ball over the net on the second.

I had to laugh, right after that, when stoppage time was announced at two minutes, since there were at least two stoppages that were individually longer than that (Mereira's "injury" and the water break).

But nothing happened during that time, so they went into the half with the US down a goal still.

The second half started with the Portuguese giving the US a bit more room, perhaps to keep their shape at the back better, and prevent shots over the top.  Thinking back on one of the other games, I wonder if stopping the long ball works better by being tighter at the back or pressuring the kicks more.

The US did get a 5-on-2 break in the 51st minute, but Bradley's pass ahead was a half-step behind the forward, and they lost the momentum.  Very disappointing.

Two minutes later, Bradley again did less than well.  He had an open chance two minutes later, with the goalie completely out of position, but shot it directly into the defender, Costa, who was in the goal.  Not his finest moment.

Ronaldo broke free, finally, about six minutes later, but fired the shot high and wide before the defense caught up.

A couple minutes later, the US finally equalized on a shocker.  There was a pretty bad corner kick, but the ball went out to Jones, ten yards outside the box, and a bit off to the left side.  He took it a little bit to his right, then fired a shot around Costa (in good position again) and into the far side of the net.

Play continued pretty even for quite a while, then.  The US finally found some space with a great run down the right hand side in the 81st minute.  Then there were three quick, nice passes, to Bradley to Zusi to Dempsey, going across the goal one way, then back for Dempsey to finish from the near side goal line.

That got the Portuguese to push forward, at one point managing to have five men offsides in one play.

As stoppage time went on, it looked like time was going to run out for Portuguese, but Bradley misplayed a ball at midfield, and the ball got kicked up to Ronaldo, who made a run down the right field side.  From well back, he crossed into the box and hit a diving Varela for the header to tie the game.

Once the celebration was done, the ref only allowed a few seconds of play, so the game ended in a flabbergasting draw.  A second center-back was subbed in in the last minute or so, and he signally failed his only charge.  Disappointing doesn't even begin to cover it.  A win would've cemented the US into moving on, and even given them a good chance to win the group.

Now, they'll need to beat Germany to win the group, though a draw would be good enough to get them into the knockout.  Knowing the riskiness of playing with desperation, I suspect the US and Germany will play a very desultory game, with both teams looking for a draw.

No comments:

Post a Comment