Thirty seconds. The USA was a mere 30 seconds away from a momentous victory and qualification into the knockout stage. Instead, all of that was snatched away right at the death in heartbreaking fashion and they had to settle for a 2-2 draw, along with just 4 points instead of 6.
Soccer can be a cruel game and is often a roller coaster of emotions. If John Brooks’ late winner against Ghana was a high, this was surely an absolute low. They put in so much effort and fought through the torrid conditions of the Amazon jungle. They went a goal down early and were on the back foot for the first 10 minutes, but came back to take the lead so late in the 81st minute. Surely they had done enough. The US had a famous victory over Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in the palm of its hand. They were going to advance to the knockout stage even before playing against mighty Germany. But thanks to a moment of sloppy play and shoddy defending, it was all gone in an instant. It must have been absolutely deflating for the Americans. Furthermore, instead of being able to relax and rest players against Germany with qualification secured, the US now has to put in another hard shift to secure a result. Can they recover from such a disappointment in time?
While they are saying all the right things about it still being a good result and looking ahead to Germany, questions remain about their mental state as that equalizer was gut-wrenching and it won’t be easy to move past it. The good news is that this USA team has shown an ability to bounce back and fight. They allowed Ghana to score a late equalizer after bravely hanging on to the lead for 80 minutes. Rather than let their heads drop after conceding so late, they struck back four minutes later through John Brooks’ 86th minute header to secure a priceless win. They fell behind early against Portugal after Geoff Cameron’s error, but fought back to take a 2-1 lead before that Portuguese dagger at the death. In this World Cup, the US has proven to be resilient and able to recover from setbacks. This time, however, could be at a whole other level. They will need to dig deep and summon that spirit to quickly recover from to get in the right frame of mind to secure a result against Germany. The Portugal game was certainly a missed opportunity. The question is, will the US find the strength to move past it?