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 World Cup games for the first time since 1930. But they wilted in the Amazon heat and humidity. (In the 39th minute, referee Nestor Pitana called for a cooling break, the first such decision to be taken at the World Cup.) Varela's goal on a diving header off Cristiano Ronaldo's cross on the game's last play gave Portugal a 2-2 tie today on an exhausting night in the rainforest capital.
The United States now has four points in Group G, the same as Germany. Both Portugal and Ghana have one point. 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 that will be played simultaneously. (Here's a refresher on how points are awarded.)