MANAUS, Brazil – They were less than 30 seconds away.
The Americans were about to romp into the round of 16 at the World Cup, about to walk off with their first come-from-behind win at soccer’s showcase. About to advance with a game to spare. About to win consecutive Cup games for the first time since 1930.
But they wilted in the Amazon heat and humidity.
Varela’s goal on a diving header off Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross on the game’s last play gave Portugal a 2-2 tie Sunday on an exhausting night in the rainforest capital.
We had one foot in the door, goalkeeper Tim Howard said.
Now the Americans may need at least a point Thursday against Germany to advance to the knockout stage. They could advance with a loss, depending on the result of the Portugal-Ghana game.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann called it a little bit of a bummer.
Obviously we’re disappointed, but at the end of the day you’ve got to look at the positives: We got a point, American captain Clint Dempsey said.
Germany and the Americans both have four points, but the Germans have a better goal difference. Ghana, which lost 2-1 to the U.S., has one point, as does Portugal.
The Americans and Germans would advance with a draw. Klinsmann dismissed the notion that he would discuss the match with Germany coach Joachim Loew, his assistant on his homeland’s 2006 World Cup team.
There’s no time right now for friendship calls, Klinsmann said. It’s about business now.
The U.S. fell behind early, when Geoff Cameron’s wayward clearance gifted Nani a fifth-minute goal.
But Jermaine Jones’ exquisite 28-yard shot tucked inside the far post in the 64th minute and Dempsey’s goal off his stomach in the 86th, his second of the tournament and fourth of his World Cup career, put the Americans ahead 2-1.
Then Varela beat Cameron to the cross, deflating the red, white and blue-clad fans.
It was unfortunate, Klinsmann said, An amazing game, amazing performance by our guys. Nothing more that you can ask for. We just go it the tougher way. We’ve got to go and we’ve got to beat Germany, get a result against Germany, and that’s what we’re going to do.