The goal was simple: Win and we’re in. Sitting atop the Group of Death one point back of Germany, the #USMNT had the chance to be the first team in the Group G to secure its ticket to the round of 16.
If you thought the buzz over the Ghana game was intense, the #USAvPOR match was extreme. Fans all over the country and in Brazil flocked to support @ussoccer. Once again, celebrities and fans alike showed colossal support.
USA...USA...USA. pic.twitter.com/12RVdXTAa9— Patrick Stewart (@SirPatStew) June 22, 2014
While fans took over the twittersphere (getting @ussoccer 1 million followers) showing love and support for the #USMNT, the fans below flocked to numerous watch parties across the United States and Brazil wearing the familiar red, white and blue.
Portugal got out of the gate early with a quick goal from Nani, but the USA was able to settle down and control the game. Their efforts merited a payoff, and they got one…
It's definitely not too early to rewatch Jermaine Jones' brilliant goal -> http://t.co/7bLebzFk2w— ESPN (@espn) June 22, 2014
Midfielder Jermaine Jones scored his first ever World Cup goal to tie the game at 1-1; and what a goal it was. The #USMNT kept up the pressure, knowing a win would put them through to the Round of 16. Attack after attack finally led to a familiar sight…
Relive Clint Dempsey's go-ahead stomach goal -> http://t.co/vicVF4YRJ7— ESPN (@espn) June 23, 2014
The captain’s go ahead goal seemed to put the nail in the proverbial coffin of the No. 4 ranked team in the tournament and 2013 Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. But five minutes into stoppage time, Ronaldo sent a cross into the box that was met by the head of teammate Varela.
I went from this TO this... In 30 seconds http://t.co/7E3Nt4LSql— Lolo Jones (@lolojones) June 23, 2014
The irony for the final match against Germany on Thursday is as deep and heavily laid out as the lunchroom sloppy joe meat at the typical public school. The German that helped West Germany secure the World Cup in 1990 now leads the pack of hungry Americans against them, with the possibility of knocking them out of the tournament.
"I ended up face down on the floor, but I'm pretty sure #Ronaldo killed my cat. #usmnt #usavpor."
Thanks to all the supporters out there for pushin us today!!! Only 30 sec more and we done it!! but… http://t.co/EInowVg6au— Jermaine Jones (@Jermainejunior) June 23, 2014
June 23, 2014
What a performance from the boys tonight!!! Unlucky we didn't get the W!!! But on to the next one!! ⚽️⚽️#1N1T— Aron Jóhannsson (@aronjo20) June 23, 2014
However, the result is not something the team has time to dwell on. A long flight back from Manaus to the team camp in São Paulo and then another long flight to Recife doesn’t give the team much time before its final group stage match against Germany on Thursday. The team still has to train and make adjustments to ensure it’s one of the two teams going through.
To my brothers,
When I left my career two years ago, the position I attained, the money, and essentially the pinnacle and culmination of all I had worked for throughout my adult life, I made that sacrifice because I had a vision of what this team could achieve together. I never thought that I would return to the game after college, much less join such a remarkable group of misfits so many years later.
During my first camp, before we qualified for Rio, coach and I sat down and discussed my goals. ”Rio” was all I could muster. Throughout the last couple years, we laughed together, we fought together, we cried together, we sweat together, we bled together, we lost together, and we won together. We did it together with one common goal: competing in the Paralympics.
I often reflect back on the grit and determination this team has displayed so many times over the years, like the time we clawed our way from behind in the final minutes to earn a 5-3 victory against the Footie Povoa host nation, Portugal, to secure a third-place finish ahead of some of the best countries in the world. I think about the skill and mental toughness in overcoming injuries and absences by winning the bronze medal at the 2014 America’s Cup.
I think back to when we took the pitch in the second half against Scotland at the 2015 World Championships trailing 1-0, and looking in every one of your eyes and seeing there was no quit and no way we were going to lose. We fought and we won. Shortly after, we experienced heartbreak after taking the number-four ranked Dutch squad to double overtime to make it to the semifinals. But we rebounded back in a must-win game with a crushing 4-1 victory against Argentina to stamp our passports to Rio. And of course the 4-3 come-from-behind victory again over Argentina in Spain earlier this year.
The U.S. PNT celebrates after punching its ticket to the 2016 Paralympic games with a 4-1 win vs. Argentina at the 2015 Cerebral Palsy Football World Championships.
What truly showed how far this team has come in such a short time was on full display in Rio by concluding our season with a 2-1 victory over Ireland, the same team we lost to 4-1 and 5-0 just months before! Simply incredible, gentlemen.
These few examples, and many others I did not mention, do not fully capture the spirit, mentality, and potential of this team. We accomplished something that men, women, and children all over the world can only dream of. We reached the greatest stage in our sport and we did so while displaying the qualities of what makes our country, and each and every one of you, so great. We represented our country and ourselves with honor, respect, courage, sacrifice, and strength.
I know we are all saying, “what if…” and “if this…”, but the fact of the matter is that we made waves on the international stage. We showed that we’re a dangerous team, a term that had never been used to describe our team until all of you gave everything of yourselves to earn that. Our time in Brazil is something we will all share forever and no one will ever be able to take that from you. What an incredible legacy.
Throughout this tournament, not only did we now show that we belong with the best in the world, but we set this program up for success in the future. Aspiring players around our country who watched each and every one of you and learned of your tremendously powerful and inspirational stories will come into this team for their trials knowing that they will have to work their asses off to join our ranks. The results will come with the foundation that we have laid.
There are no words to capture the pride and love I have for each of you, my brothers. No matter where our roads take us in the future, I want you to know that if you ever need me, I’ll be there, as I know you would do the same for me. Hold your heads up high, reflect on what we did, on who we are, and let’s get back to the grindstone.
Our coach and staff created a formula for success with this team, and we have not fully honored that yet. Coach [Stuart] Sharp has led by example in his dedication to all of us. He has transformed this program and this team, using each of us as his instruments.
I am motivated to get back to work, to put that crest over my chest, and take the pitch with you all again very soon. We have work to do. I love you all.
US National 7-a-side Football Striker / Co-CaptainRead more