In a wild, back-and-forth 2-2 draw against Portugal, the United States was able to grab a point thanks to the heroics of Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey.
The Americans fell behind in the fifth minute after Geoff Cameron's clearance went horribly awry and fell to Nani, who slotted it past Tim Howard. They looked very encouraging after the dreadful start, though, creating far more chances than they did against Ghana.
It seemed inevitable that the Yanks would equalize at some point, and in the 64th minute, Jones did just that with an absolute wonder goal. Bleacher Report UK provided a look at the heat-seeking missile that left Beto stuck in quicksand:
He might just have ripped a hole in the net if he was using his strong foot, as SoccerByIves' Ives Galarcep alluded to:
Wow, just wow. The big midfielder collected, took a touch and blasted a shot that gave the keeper NO chance. And that's his "Weak" foot. Wow— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) June 22, 2014
Although Jones was tremendous against Ghana and has been very effective as of late, this was truly his moment of redemption after a rocky start with the team, as Galarcep and Grantland's Roger Bennett both noted:
A few months ago Jermaine Jones didn't have a ton of fans among U.S. Soccer faithful. After this World Cup, he's becoming a fan favorite.— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) June 22, 2014
No player criticized more than Jermaine Jones. Derided as a "Klinsmann favorite." He just scored one of best US WC goals I have ever seen— roger bennett (@rogbennett) June 22, 2014
The goal injected a spark throughout an entire nation, including the man who was likely bummed not to be on the pitch:
ESPN Stats & Info pointed out the historical significance of the goal:
Jurgen Klinsmann's squad looked intent on leaving with four total points on the table, as Portugal—desperate for a win—pushed forward in search of the game-winner.
But it was Dempsey that found the back of the net after a cross from Seattle Sounders teammate DeAndre Yedlin deflected to Graham Zusi, who crossed it in front of the goal for Deuce to redirect home.
World Soccer Talk showed the goal from a couple of different perspectives:
ESPN's Paul Carr and WhoScored.com put some numbers behind it:
Clint Dempsey scores his 4th career WC goal, tying Bert Patenaude for 2nd-most in #USMNT history (Donovan 5).— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 22, 2014
Clint Dempsey: Has now scored 4 goals in 8 World Cup finals appearances for USA #usa— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 22, 2014
While it wasn't the prettiest goal, it was a deserved one for Dempsey, who had been really active all night. Playing in the false-nine role, he was consistently making runs in behind Portugal's defense and creating chances on goal.
Squawka Sports summed up his performance:
A world-class cross from Cristiano Ronaldo in the final seconds found Silvestre Varela to hand the United States a heart-breaking draw, but that hardly takes away from just how impressive both Jones and Dempsey were on the night.
Despite the heartbreaker, Dempsey wasn't discouraged by where his country stands in Group G, as he expressed on the ESPN broadcast, via Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest:
Dempsey to ESPN: "Just unlucky not to get 3 points. Still looking good in the group."— Art Thiel (@Art_Thiel) June 22, 2014
Man of the Match for the United States?
Instead of booking a spot in the Round of 16, the Americans now need a draw in their final match to ensure a spot in the knockout stages.
For the German Klinsmann, who has gotten massive goals from the German-born Jones and John Anthony Brooks, it is—you guessed it—Germany standing in the way of the Round of 16.
Buckle up. It's going to get—er, stay—wild.