U.S. vs. Portugal: Blunders, Goals, and Groans
The U.S. men’s national team went into its Sunday match against Portugal in a position to advance to the Round of 16 with a win. This was arguably one of the biggest games in U.S. soccer history. The U.S. lineup featured a change of formation, as Jozy Altidore was unavailable due to a hamstring injury. Graham Zusi entered as an extra midfielder to clog up the middle and to try and keep Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo at bay.
A double blunder gave Portugal its first goal of the 2014 World Cup. A terrible cross by Portugal’s Miguel Veloso looked to be a simple clearance by defender Geoff Cameron, but it went from a simple clearance to a horrible mistake, as Cameron unfortunately sliced it right to Nani. Nani made U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard go down early with a stutter step that opened up more of the net, after which Nani made no mistake. Portugal was up 1-0 within the first five minutes of the match.
Besides the awful start, the U.S. played well. Chances were created, and Ronaldo was mostly quiet. One chance of note for the Americans was a rocket of a left-footed shot by Fabian Johnson that was just wide of the post. Captain Clint Dempsey had what was probably the U.S.’s best chance to equalize in the first, but the angle to shoot at goal was narrow, and Portuguese keeper Beto was up for making the save. The official signaled for halftime, and both teams went into the locker room with Portugal up 1-0.