DO YOU BELIEVE? "I believe" is apparently the slogan of choice for US soccer fans. Bland but hopeful!
It's been real, folks: We're second in Group G. This game had it all—we went behind, we went ahead, then we tied. Disappointment, excitement, and finally, a shrug. All in all, I think you have to salute the US players for an overall strong performance. We haven't definitively secured our place in the knockout stage yet, but on this evidence, we'll get there. Highlights here.
Next game is against heavyweights Germany on Thursday, June 26 at 9 a.m.. Until next time: Hate FIFA, love the game.
95 mins: Apparently not: the game ends 2-2. Ronaldo whips in a peach of a cross from the right-side, and it's an open header for Portugal's Silvestre Varela. Everyone is completely stunned.
94 mins: Ronaldo looks like he's already given up...
91 mins: We're into five minutes of stoppage time, which seems like an awful lot.
Desperate times for Portugal who need a goal to stay in the competition. Ball for Bruno ALves is out for a goal kick...#USAvPOR — U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) June 22, 2014
85 mins: Top-notch stuff from the US team! A free kick for Portugal comes to nothing, as our back line steps up and leaves half the Portuguese team off-side. Dempsey is limping off the field. The crowd here is chanting his name. Chris Wondolowski is on in his place.
83 mins: Dempsey is on side all day every day for that goal. I believe. We can do this.
80 mins:DEMPSEYYYYYY!!!!!! 2-1!!!!! Yedlin involved in the build-up. Pandemonium here at The Chieftain. A chair is crowd-surfing.
79 mins: I cannot believe how well we've neutralized Ronaldo.
71 mins: USA's Alejandro Bedoya is subbed out for attacking defender—no wait, he's playing in the left wing in midfield—DeAndre Yedlin! With Dempsey, that makes two Seattle Sounders players on the field. Represent. Aggressive move by Klinsmann.
70 mins: The reaction here at The Chieftain to that Jones strike? Chants of "I believe that we will win!" and of course, "USA! USA!"
65 mins: This is a remarkable game—you have to expect that more goals are coming. Tim Howard has to be alert again to get in a block, and he is, as Portugal's Meireles has a go at the other end.
63 mins:JONES!!!!!! 1-1. Off a corner kick, he hits it with venom and it flies into the side-netting! The Portuguese keeper watches go in. Brilliant.
62 mins: Well, Ronaldo will want to forget that. He gets the ball in acres of space and has could make a beeline towards goal, but uncharacteristically for him, he looks up for his teammates. Finding none, he charges forward then fluffs his shot into the stands.
60 mins: We're playing a lot like the Sounders: kinda messy, but with enough flair and physicality and teamwork to look entertaining and dangerous. If we could just find the back of the net...
55 mins: COME ON, MICHAEL BRADLEY. You have to score there. Our most creative player, Fabian Johnson, makes a run down the right flank and it looks like it's going out of bounds. But he gets there, cuts it back past the Portuguese keeper. And what does Bradley do? He side-foots it straight into a Portuguese defender on the goal line, instead of slamming it into the upper net. He'll regret that.
54 mins: Portugal have looked refreshed by the halftime break, but haven't created any clear-cut chances.
Before the whistle blows, Nani hits it goalwards again, but it bounces off the right goalpost... then instantly it's flying towards the US goalmouth again, but Tim Howard staggers up and knocks the ball just over the bar. That was crazy.
Also, we really must win this, if only to not let down Professor X:
44 mins: Tim Howard. Oh my god. How did he do that.
42 mins: Goalscorer Nani, who I've always rated highly, is passed the ball by Ronaldo and finds himself in acres of space on the right side. But Tim Howard has strong hands to palm away his shot, then our defenders foul Nani as he tries to get the rebound. Ronaldo set himself in his trademark stance to take a free kick, but skies it wide. Cheers from the crowd.
We're back underway: The players were all squirting water at themselves.
What the hell? It's difficult to hear the announcer in here, but I gather the ref just called a "cooling break"? Play has stopped. I've never seen this before.
35 mins: We've taken nine shots on goal so far. Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo picks up the ball in midfield and strikes it, but it bounces straight into Tim Howard's arms.
29 mins: We really need to start putting away these chances... Dempsey rolls the ball behind for Bradley, who strikes a tame shot across the face of goal. The Portuguese keeper looks tired! Still 1-0, Portugal up.
24 mins: Bradley with a bit of space outside the eighteen yard box—boom! Another solid assault on the Portuguese goal that goes just high. The referee was in his way for a moment there, though. (The ref in the Iran-Argentina match yesterday morning was a comic and bumbling figure, by the way. He dropped his aerosol spray can on the field and accidentally blocked an Iranian breakaway. I felt bad for the Iranians.)
21 mins: Coach Jurgen Klinsmann appears to have gotten his tactics spot-on so far. Portgual's goal happened because of a careless defensive error. But since then, we've stifled Portugal in the midfield and threatened on the break. Portugal's keeper comes way out of his box to kick away an enticing lob for Dempsey. Looked dicey for a moment there.
18 mins: Oh, that would have been glorious from Dempsey! Portugal suddenly look vulnerable to counter-attacks and long through balls. Another corner pops out to Dempsey, who chests down and lobs over the keeper. It's too high, though, and goes out for a goal kick.
14 mins: The great thing about going one goal down early on is you have almost ninety minutes to recover. Fabian Johnson weaves his way through two Portuguese players and is hacked down. Dempsey rifles the free kick on target, but Portugal's keeper gets a hand to it. Close!
11 mins: Optimistic whoops go up from my comrades at The Chieftain as the US release a winger down the right side. His cross goes out for a corner, but Portugal easily clear.
New to soccer? Gawker has a beginner's guide to this match here.
8 mins: We kicked the ball off but we haven't had more than a few second of possession. That man Dempsey hasn't seen the ball at all. Poor stuff. Portugal look relaxed and assertive.
5 mins:PORTUGAL SCORE. Nani is left totally open on the far side after a weak clearance from a left-side cross. Devastating.
4 mins: Cristiano Ronaldo dances his way down the left side. That's what we were all watching for!
2 minutes in: Whew! Hometown hero Clint Dempsey has opted not to wear a mask over his bruised, broken nose. He looks like he just took a headbutt to the face from Zinedine Zidane.