MANAUS, Brazil — Like many of his U.S. national team teammates, Kyle Beckerman walked off the Arena Amazonia field one disappointed soccer player on Sunday night.
The Americans had squandered a one-goal lead and an opportunity to clinch a spot in the Round of 16 in the World Cup, settling for a 2-2 draw with Portugal in a Group G match.
"It was tough," the Real Salt Lake midfielder said. "We felt we were so close to winning and advancing. When it was not the case, it felt tough. Coming into the tournament you take four points out of the first two games."
The Americans (1-0-1, four points) need a win or a tie with Germany (1-0-1, four) in Recife Thursday to clinch a spot in the knockout round. Portugal (0-1-1, one), which kept its slim hopes alive, will meet Ghana (0-1-1, one) on Thursday. The U.S. also can move on with a loss if the Ghana-Portugal match ends in a draw or if it has a better goal differential should the other game have a winner.
"We talked about it a little bit," Beckerman said of the scenarios. "It's still in our own hands. We've just got to pick up a result in the last game and we're good."
Beckerman helped shut down Cristiano Ronaldo, regarded by many to be the world's best soccer player. He got into the act, following the Portuguese superstar a few times. Ronaldo never really was a threat to score, but he did set up the equalizer on a right-wing cross five minutes into stoppage time.
"There's a couple of things that we could have done better, but we didn't,” Beckerman said. “The ball found Cristiano and he played an excellent ball to his player and he scored."
That player was Varela, who for at least one night, became the toast of Portugal.
The game wound up being a seesaw battle with Portugal taking advantage of a blunder by center back Geoff Cameron in the fifth minute before the Americans battled back behind second-half goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey to grab the lead.
"We knew it was going to be a game of tides," Beckerman said. "We knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy, which they did. But I thought we responded very well after their goal. We played some really good soccer. Then we felt if we could get the equalizer we could take the lead. It was about 30 seconds too short.”
The USA returned to Sao Paulo by charter immediately after the game so it could start its preparation for Germany.
"We'll get home and get some rest and do everything possible to get our bodies and legs (where we) need to be," Beckerman said. "We've got to bring another effort like we did (Sunday), the other night. If we could do that, it should be enough.
“There's a lot of good things to take out of this, but I would take the win every time. What are you going to do? If you said before the tournament, two games, four points, I think we would take it. It's just the way it was. We're still in a good position, still feeling confident.”
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