The USMNT was 30 seconds away from advancing from their group after just two matches. Points 4, 5, and 6 were within their grasp. And then Cristiano Ronaldo did something about it. Silvestre Varela’s header, deep into stoppage time, denied American victory after one of the best halves in the history of US Soccer. So why am I smiling this morning?
Because this is dreamland.
Consider: The USMNT has 4 points through two games in the group of death. Any sort of result against Germany would see them through to the round of 16. A draw between Ghana and Portugal would clinch advancement for the US. Tiebreakers favor them heavily if Portugal defeats Ghana, and even the other way around provides an escape route. This is a great situation to be in. If you had told me ahead of time that we’d be in it, I’d be thrilled. I am thrilled.
No, it’s not a guarantee. But we never expected that out of the group of death. We expected it to be hard; few let even their highest hopes get beyond a win against Ghana, a draw against Portugal, and ??? against Germany. The U.S. got its win against Ghana, if not in the best performance. It got its draw against Portugal, despite going behind in the fifth minute. The nature of the draw should not dampen the optimism. Germany is a bonus.
Our national team has already exceeded our expectations, and if things don’t go the right way on Thursday, we’ll have no reason for shame.