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Three Thoughts: The Heartbreaker Between USA and Portugal

In the blink of an eye, the US went from advancing out of the group to having to play a much more meaningful game on Thursday.


I heard it a few times yesterday evening, but it is worth repeating. Soccer is a cruel but beautiful sport. It just is.

I tried to write down thought following the United States's 2-2 draw with Portugal last night but found that it was just something I needed to take a breather from. Too much emotion and energy was spent watching that game, to write about it in that moment just didn't seem fair.

But a day later, some new perspective has been given to me. We know the US can still advance and given that they are sitting tied with Germany atop the group, there are plenty of positives to take away from it all.

Some bad kicks

I'll get the frustrating part out of the way first. One bad whiff of a clearance by Geoff Cameron five minutes into the game, added with a bad play by Michael Bradley and the rest of the defense not catching up and we're looking at how Portugal scored their two goals. Nani wasn't at all effective in the attack, and really neither was Cristiano Ronaldo.

Hell, the US did a fantastic job of bottling him up and making sure the FIFA player of the year didn't do a darn thing for the majority of the game. But like we've seen with our own FC Dallas here locally, one break in play and the best players take advantage of it. Leo Messi did it on Saturday against Iran for Argentina and Ronaldo did the same for Portugal on the night.

But the late game effort by the US at the moment has been terrible. In their last four games - two friendlies and now the two group stage games - the US have conceded four goals after the 80th minute. You don't win big games with late collapses like that.

The midfield came to play

While it took a little while to build up between the first and second half, the midfield group that Jurgen Klinsmann used on Sunday was solid. Jermaine Jones continues to put his stamp on this team while Kyle Beckerman was a beast once again. I cannot state that enough about those two.

Speaking of Jones, just watch this on a loop.

But the play from Graham Zusi was also better in this game, particularly in the second half as he helped create the Clint Dempsey goal.

The formation was just the right one from Klinsmann too. I thought going into the match that it may be a clogged midfield but what it did was allowed the US to maintain a ton of possession, create chances and force Portugal to be pinned back on the wings as DeMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson got forward. In a small way, this was the best option for the US attack to have without Jozy Alitdore.

The only negative from the midfield aside from Bradley's bad touch in the 95th minute, was maybe Aljeandro Bedoya, who was pretty distant for the entire match.

Lots to play for

It is kind of amazing to see where we are as a country with this sport. Going into the tournament I was one of those that had the optimism about this group. I always believed we would beat Ghana. I always believed we would get a result against Portugal, which would set us up with a good chance of seeing the knockout stage.

To see how many of us were so gutted and upset over a draw is a sign of where this game is going in this country. Seeing 5000 some people turn out in downtown Dallas to support this game and this team is such a positive thing. While the result may not be the best thing ever, the passion for this team and this sport is where it needs to be.

I just hope the likes of FC Dallas and Major League Soccer can cash in on this momentum in a big, big way.