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Depression Session or Desired Result? Sorting Through the USMNT’s 2-2 Draw with Portugal

Going into the game, a draw would send US fans into a frenzy. At the end of the match, a draw send those same fans into a funk. A little perspective, if possible!

USMNT Coach Jurgen Klinsmann
USMNT Coach Jurgen Klinsmann
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

My goodness, how fickle sports fans are!  Before the game, all the prognosticators were saying that if the USMNT drew against Portugal, they’d be in great shape.  And I agreed!  With Portugal a top 3 team in the world, we would do well to draw!

But we did so well, that we were up 2-1 in the 82nd minute and mere seconds away from getting all three points and sitting atop the Group of Death at 6 points.

And can we just say that that Ronaldo cross was glorious? Gotta give props!  Right?  Right!?!

Now?  We draw 2-2 and we’re ticked.  Andy Edwards (@AndyEDMLS) made an insightful comment on Twitter:  "We drew Portugal tonight, and we're kinda disappointed with it. That says something."  It sure does!  Think about it—we’re ticked that we didn’t beat Portugal.  Aside from Cameron’s faux pas that gave up that early goal, and some slips at the end, our boys played great! I like where we’re at in our development.

Where do we (and by ‘we,’ I mean the USMNT) stand right now?  By all accounts, in very good shape—but not pristine.

First, we beat Ghana 2-1 (way to go, Brooks!) and we drew with Portugal 2-2. That gives us four goals in two games against some great competition: two by Dempsey, one by John Brooks, one by Jermaine Jones—all beauties, all cold-blooded.

Secondly, we are tied atop of the aforementioned "Group of Death" with Germany at 4 points, with Ghana and Portugal with 1 point.  A win or draw against Germany on Thursday, and we advance. (Of course, the depression session enters when we consider that if the game lasted 94 minutes, we wouldn’t be having scenario discussions.  Even then, if Bradley hadn’t turned the ball over and Cameron hadn’t been ball watching, well… you know.  (I just can’t even say it!)

Thirdly, even if we lose, we have scenarios where we could still advance.

Because Portugal is currently at -4, a Portugal win and a U.S. loss where the combined differential doesn’t move to zero would send America through. If the differential winds up at a tie, a highly unlikely event, the next tiebreaker goes to goals scored. In that scenario, Portugal would have likely scored a bunch of goals against Ghana, and that would presumably be bad for the U.S.

If the U.S. loses, and Ghana defeats Portugal, the African nation might once again knock America out of the World Cup, albeit a bit more indirectly than usual. Because Ghana is only two goals behind America in differential, a 2-0 Ghana win over Portugal and a 1-0 U.S. loss to Germany would send Ghana through. [Source]

Clearly, the second scenario is much more troublesome. I could see Ghana beating Portugal, and I could easily the U.S. losing 1-0 to Germany. So we do not want Ghana winning—at all.

So I know where I'll be Thursday at 10 MT: glued to some TV somewhere watching Germany-USA and keeping tabs on Portugal-Ghana--USMNT kit on, lid in place, scarf around the neck, living and dying with every pass.

Yes, I'm bummed we didn't beat Portugal when we had the chance.

But I'm pumped that we're in a place now where we can feel that way.

Bring on Germany!