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.
On Feb. 9, 2013, the U.S. Women’s National Team kicked off the new year with a 4-1 victory against Scotland in Jacksonville, Florida. Christen Press, then 24-years-old, was responsible for two goals that day, scoring in the 13th minute and adding another in the 32nd to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead at halftime.
The early goal was Press’ first for the USA, coming in a match that was also her first cap.
Becky Sauerbrunn hugs Christen Press in the aftermath of Press scoring on her WNT debut.
Earning that first cap is special for any player, but a debut and a goal in the same game? That’s a rare feat. In the 30+ year history of the U.S. WNT 21 players have scored in their first caps.
NOTHING TO LOSE
Press’ path to that first game three years ago was an interesting one. In early 2012, she made the decision to move to Sweden after U.S.-based Women’s Professional Soccer folded. Press thought leaving the country might negatively impact her hopeful National Team career, but little did she know, it was only just beginning.
“I think just because I always thought that the National Teams would be watching the American league, I thought that going abroad was kind of like saying goodbye to my dream of playing for the National Team,” recalled Press. “I left around this time, in February, and I thought I would not get a call, I sort of thought that I would fall out of U.S. Soccer’s radar.”
As it turns out, head coach Pia Sundhage kept tabs on players in Europe, especially in her native land of Sweden. Press got off to a hot start with her new club, and it wasn’t long before she was on her way back home.
Press returned to the U.S. and joined the WNT in Florida in April during the final stretch of what had been an intense fitness camp. She kept to herself and tried to quickly learn as much as possible despite only being there for five days.
“I had nothing to lose,” she said. “It was my first camp, it was warm and I was so happy. I don’t think I spoke to anybody. I was not nervous, I was just happy to be in Florida and my dream was coming true. I’m always quiet when I don’t know my surroundings, so I just kept to myself trying to learn the rules, how to behave; it was all so quick.”
That short stint turned out to be the only one for Press before she was named an Olympic alternate in 2012. The following February, Tom Sermanni took over as WNT head coach, and it was then Press learned she would start against Scotland. Her chance had arrived.
“I went on the field, the crowd was so much bigger than I’d ever played in front of, and for me it was so much bigger than life,” said Press. “But I kept telling myself, ‘I’m not nervous, I’m confident, I’m a good player and I believe in myself.’”
Years and multiple goals later, plus one Women’s World Cup title to her name, the dream is alive and well for Press.
Press celebrates scoring her first World Cup goal against Australia in the USA's opening match of the 2015 Women's World Cup