Soccer fans getting ready for the second half of the US vs. Portugal Match in the World Cup Sunday, gathering outside Mes Que on Hertel Avenue. The number of fans at a place that calls itself "Buffalo's Soccer Bar" during Sunday's game spilled onto the streets and even resulted in the shutdown of North Park Ave to accommodate the throng. (WBEN Photos/Brian Mazurowski)
|Nearly 5,000 soccer fans also gathered at Canalside in downtown Buffalo to watch the games on large outdoor screens there, as did fans at several outdoor spots nationwide, in these AP photos below
Canalside Viewing Party:
On The WBEN Liveline: Sam Hoyt, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp
With Cristiano Ronaldo on the field, a one-goal lead is never safe.
The world player of the year rarely sparkled on a hot and humid night in the jungle, but his inch-perfect stoppage-time cross set up Varela for the equalizing goal Sunday in Portugal's 2-2 draw against the United States at the World Cup.
The Real Madrid winger, who has been playing despite a left knee injury, showed flashes of his best, but his impact was minimal until the final seconds of the match. He curled the ball in to a diving Varela, who headed past Tim Howard to give the Portuguese team a slim hope of advancing to the second round and deny the Americans instant advancement.
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The United States now has four points in Group G, the same as Germany. Both Portugal and Ghana have one point. The Americans will face Germany on Thursday in Recife, while Portugal takes on Ghana at the same time in Brasilia.
"Obviously we're disappointed, but at the end of the day you've got to look at the positives, we got a point," said United States captain Clint Dempsey, who scored to give the Americans a 2-1 lead in the 81st. "It's going down to the last game and hopefully we get the job done."
Nani scored first for Portugal, shooting past a sprawling Howard in the fifth minute. But the Americans responded in the second half as Portugal seemed to wilt in the stifling heat.
Jermaine Jones made it 1-1 with a curling shot in the 64th after a cross from Graham Zusi made its way through the Portugal defense. And Dempsey, playing with a broken nose, then put the Americans ahead, using his stomach to direct the ball into the net from a cross by Zusi.
"Now we have to go out and beat Germany, that's what we have to do," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "We have to play Germany, we have one less day to recover, we played in the Amazon, they played on a place with less travel. We have to do it the tough way."
Dempsey's goal was his fourth at a World Cup and second at this year's tournament. Jones scored his third goal for the United States national team and first in almost two years.
It was all Portugal for much of the first half, with Ronaldo in the starting lineup but getting less involved as the match progressed. The Americans, however, started to get more and more chances and even had a shot from Michael Bradley cleared off the line by Ricardo Costa in the 55th.
"There didn't seem to be any problem with Cristiano Ronaldo," Portugal coach Paulo Bento said. "What happened during the game has something to do with our other players."
The heat in the Amazon rainforest, however, seemed to slow the Portuguese as the match wore on.
In the 39th minute, referee Nestor Pitana of Argentina called for a cooling break, the first such decision to be taken at this World Cup.
At the start of the match, FIFA listed the temperature at 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) with 66 percent humidity. FIFA uses the "Wet Bulb Globe Temperature" to determine when official cooling breaks should be added, and says the WGBT must be above 32 degrees C (90 degrees F) for them to be considered.
The breaks are supposed to occur in the 30th and 75th minutes. There was no break in the second half, but that didn't stop Ronaldo from creating the final goal.
"It was a thriller," Klinsmann said. "Everybody who had a chance to be today in Manaus will talk about this game for a long time."
Germany and the U.S. will play Thursday in Recife, and Ghana and Portugal will kick off at the same time in Brasilia.
Here are the scenarios:
-If the U.S. wins: The Americans are through to the next round as the winners of Group G and will play the second place team from Group H. (Belgium currently leads Group H, followed by Algeria, Russia and South Korea)
Germany would finish second unless Ghana or Portugal won and passed Germany on goal differential. Germany currently is plus 4, Ghana is minus 1 and Portugal is minus 4. The second place finisher plays the winner of Group H.
-If Germany wins: Germany wins the group.
The U.S. would finish second unless Ghana or Portugal won and passed the U.S. on goal differential. The U.S. is plus 1, Ghana is minus 1 and Portugal is minus 4. So, if the U.S. loses to Germany, it will be rooting for Portugal, because it's less likely that Portugal could pass the U.S. on goal differential.
-If Germany and the U.S. draw: Germany wins the group and the U.S. finishes second. The result of the other game is meaningless.
-If Ghana and Portugal draw: The U.S. and Germany advance. Germany wins the group unless the U.S. defeats them.
-Other tiebreakers: In any of these scenarios involving goal differential, if two teams are tied on points and goal differential, the next tiebreaker is total goals scored. Germany has six goals, the U.S. has four, Ghana has there and Portugal has two.
American players still were showering off the sweat from the steamy Amazon night when the first questions about a possible conspiracy were asked: Would the United States and Germany try to play to a tie Thursday that would guarantee World Cup advancement to both nations?
Following Portugal's 95th-minute goal in a 2-2 draw Sunday, the Americans and Germany both have four points. Portugal and Ghana have one apiece.
A draw on Thursday in Recife would clinch first place in Group G for the Germans, who have a superior goal difference, and second for the U.S.
Portugal and Ghana, who play simultaneously in Brasilia, would be eliminated.
Add in that U.S coach Jurgen Klinsmann helped West Germany win its third World Cup title in 1990. And that he coached Germany to third place in the 2006 tournament. And that his top assistant then was Joachim Loew, who is now their homeland's coach.
It's more than enough to send the suspicious into overdrive.
"I don't think that we are made for draws, really, except if it happens like tonight - two late goals, last seconds," Klinsmann said. "I think both teams go into this game and they want to win the group."
Portugal went ahead when Geoff Cameron's wayward clearance gifted Nani a fifth-minute goal, but Jermaine Jones scored in the 64th and Clint Dempsey in the 81st to build a 2-1 lead for the U.S. Then Varela scored on a diving header off a cross from two-time world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo with 30 seconds left in five minutes of stoppage time.
Now the U.S. may need a point against Germany to advance. The Americans could clinch with a loss, depending on the result of the Portugal-Ghana game.
U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said deliberately playing for a tie is inconceivable.
"It's not what this team is about, not what this coach is about and it's not what Germany is like," he said.
Some thought back to the 1982 World Cup in Spain, where West Germany opened with a 2-1 loss to Algeria and beat Chile 4-1. Austria defeated Algeria 2-0, then defeated Chile 1-0 on June 24.
When West Germany and Austria played the following day at Gijon's Estadio El Molinon, a German victory by one or two goals would ensure both teams advanced. Horst Hrubesch scored for the West Germans 10 minutes in, and players spent much of the rest of the evening passing to their teammates without threatening the opposing goal.
West Germany won 1-0 and reached the second round along with Austria, while Algeria was eliminated. The game became known as the "Nichtangriffspakt von Gijon (Nonaggression Pact of Gijon)" and "Schande von Gijon (Disgrace of Gijon)."
"You're talking about a game that is decades away that is only part of the Germany history and not the United States," Klinsmann said. "The United States is known to give everything they have in every single game. ... We have that fighting spirit. We have that energy and that determination to do well in every single game."
Klinsmann and Gulati talked about the 2009 World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica, when the U.S. had already clinched a World Cup berth and Jonathan Bornstein's 95th-minute goal gave the Americans a 2-2 tie that knocked out the Ticos and sent Honduras to the tournament.
And there was last October's game against Panama, a month after the U.S. had clinched. Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson scored in stoppage time for a 3-2 win that knocked out the Panamanians and allowed Mexico to reach a playoff against New Zealand.
Klinsmann dismissed the notion he and Loew would have a conversation before the game.
"There's no such call," he said. "There's no time right now to have friendship calls. It's about business now."
And Jones, who played three games for Germany in 2008 before switching allegiance, said playing for a tie could be dangerous.