If football was divided between "triers" and "flyers" then
Juergen Klinsmann's uber-fit side would be an embodiment of the
former, while World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo could be
considered the archetype of the latter.
For 14 minutes in the 30 degree heat and 65 percent humidity of the
Amazon basin on Sunday, it looked like the triers would prevail
courtesy of Clint Dempsey's goal, which he most unglamorously
bundled over the line with his stomach.
But quality will often emerge and after 94 minutes of contributing
very little, Ronaldo whipped in an inch perfect cross which
substitute winger Silvestre Varela rocketed into the net with a
It was a brutal end to the evening for the Americans, who had poured
heart, sweat and soul into their quest for a second victory and a
place in the last 16 for the fourth time in the last seven
Klinsmann has come under repeated flak for over-training his
players, a criticism which gained more currency when his key striker
Jozy Altidore limped out of the World Cup with a hamstring strain in
the opening 2-1 victory over Ghana.
Central defender Matt Besler was withdrawn from the same match in
Natal after feeling his own hamstring tightening, although he was
fit to start on Sunday.
Klinsmann's pre-tournament boot camp was vindicated in sultry
Manaus, however, when his team made light of the stifling heat and
battled back after handing the Portuguese a fifth minute lead
through a Geoff Cameron defensive error.
Nani snapped up that chance with alacrity and nearly scored again
with a thumping shot that came back off the post in stoppage time in
the first half with Tim Howard saving brilliantly to deny Eder from
Those moments apart, the Americans had contained the Portuguese and
Jermaine Jones, the rock at the heart of the United States midfield,
equalized by a curling the ball into the net with a strike of no
small quality in the 64th minute.
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Whether or not he has a debilitating knee injury, Ronaldo, as he had
in the 4-0 defeat by Germany with which Portugal opened their
campaign, looked distinctly out of sorts until his decisive
contribution at the end.
The 2-2 draw means the Americans need only a point from their final
match against Germany to guarantee their progress from one of the
toughest groups at the World Cup.
"The US are known to give everything in every single game," said
"We have that fighting spirit and determination to try to win every
game and therefore we will go for a win against Germany."
Portugal find themselves with their destiny out of their own hands
as they prepare for their final group match against Ghana.
Coach Paolo Bento was left bemoaning the impact on his squad of so
many having played for European clubs competing for silverware.
"Many of the players had a very short break before the World Cup and
we have hence had many injuries during the tournament," he said.
"This will of course limit our options."
(Editing by Ken Ferris)
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