How The US Blew Its Greatest World Cup Opportunity In Just 55 Seconds

The United States national team did exactly what it had to do with a 2-2 draw with Portugal in their second World Cup match. But the U.S. could have had so much more if not for a horrible 55-second sequence of blunders and bad luck leading up to Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-second pass to set up the equaliser.

55 seconds left

It started at the 3:37 mark of stoppage time with the U.S. about to take a goal kick and both sides knowing there is probably 30-90 seconds left in the match. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard sent the ball deep making sure it was as far away from the U.S. goal as possible.

40 seconds left

Chris Wondolowski won the deep ball with a header to teammate DeAndre Yedlin. But here is where the U.S. made the first crucial mistake.

With just eight seconds remaining until the start of the final minute of stoppage time, the U.S. has a 3-on-5 disadvantage. Instead of dribbling to the corner and stalling for time, Yedlin inexplicably tries to force the ball back to Wondolowski in the box.

The ball didn’t even make it past the second defender.

32 seconds left

Yedlin does manage to reacquire the ball after being blocked by the defender. This time, Yedlin makes a better decision and takes the ball to the corner to kill crucial seconds.

Unfortunately, this is where the U.S. got unlucky. A Portuguese player manages to kick the ball off of Yedlin’s leg. The ball then just barely avoids striking the leg of a second Portuguese player who moved his leg back just in time.

This gave the ball back to Portugal for a throw in.

22 seconds left

Jurgen Klinsmann, wanting to protect his own goal instead of trying to create a scoring opportunity, wants his players to retreat.

Unfortunately for the U.S., nobody listened to him. On the subsequent throw-in and long pass to midfield, we see seven U.S. players on Portugal’s side of the field, including three players pressuring the throw-in.

Portugal won’t score at this point, but it shows that the U.S. is leaving themselves vulnerable to a quick counter-attack if there is a turnover and the ball gets through.

12 seconds left

Despite the mistakes, the U.S. still had a chance to run out the clock and win the game.

On the long pass upfield after the throw-in. Geoff Cameron intercepted the ball with a header, sending the ball to the middle of the field where Michael Bradley is sprinting to control the ball.

Bradley need only control the ball as four opposing players close in on him.

8 seconds left

But Bradley’s first touch was too hard and the ball squirts away from him and directly toward one of the opposing players. Bradley is able to get there first but not before he can completely control the ball.

A small shove from the Portuguese player jars the ball loose out of the control of the U.S. national team.

7 seconds left

Portugal now controls the ball, and as we saw earlier, the U.S. has too many players too far away from their own goal.

There are five players on the Portugal side of the field and one at the midfield stripe.

3 seconds left

Now, instead of having players back and in good defensive position, facing the attack, the U.S. players are racing back and every player is facing toward the goal.

It is hard to know where the other players are on the field if you can’t see them.

Less than 2 seconds left

So with less than two seconds remaining, the best player in the world has the ball on his boot and places a perfect pass into the box. The American defenders are in no position to defend the pass nor to disrupt the run of Varela who easily heads the ball into the back of the net.

Game over.

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