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USA-Portugal Was A Game To Remember

Despite a late equalizer from the Portuguese, Sunday evening's game between the United States and Portugal was a remarkable match.

Warren Little

If you call yourself a soccer fan, no a sports fan, I hope you saw Sunday night's game between the United States and Portugal. Obviously many reading this had interest in the game with some connection to the U.S. Men's National Team, but this game was bigger than that.

The game represented something special on the world's biggest stage.

The World Cup is extraordinary because it brings together the world's best teams to compete for the ultimate prize. It happens every four years, which builds excitement from one tournament to the next.

What it doesn't always do is give you a game like last night's thriller.

Portugal were favorites and came out playing like it, capitalizing on an early U.S. error to take a 1-0 lead. The Portuguese dropped off some after that allowing the Yanks to take some control.

As the U.S. began to grow in confidence so did the fans watching back in the States. There was a visible belief that the Red, White, and Blue could get something out of the game, despite trailing 1-0 at halftime.

This was something that made the game special. In many sports, an early mistake by the underdog can be the end, yet the United States were able to fight their way back. Not only did they pull level, but took the lead.

The way the U.S. did this was another remarkable part. Michael Bradley has been the name in the center of the midfield, but it was Jermaine Jones who played hero with a remarkable strike. Even the second goal, which certainly required a little luck to find the net, was a case of crisp passing and players putting themselves in scoring positions.

After the Jones goal, belief took over. Why couldn't the boys in all white go on to win the game and clinch qualification? After the second goal, it seemed inevitable.

Of course there was also Portugal's goal at the death to deny the Yankees early qualification to the round of 16.

As a United States fan, that goal was heartbreaking. Yes, there is still the chance of qualification on Thursday, but the chance to win the group - something that seemed impossible just days ago - was there for the taking.

As a neutral, that was something remarkable to take in. Many will blame Bradley for conceding possession or the U.S. defense for allowing Silvestre Varela to run free, but it was something special from Portugal as well.

The Portuguese have possibly the best counter attacks in the world and they demonstrated it to perfection on the play. Also, Cristiano Ronaldo showed a part of his game that has been lost in recent years, as he has focused on goal scoring. When Sir Alex Ferguson brought Ronaldo to England, he was a winger and he created chances for Manchester United from the wing. That cross showed that he still has that in the arsenal.

The back and forth nature of the game made it one of the most exciting games so far. For a sport that is still searching for traction in the United States, the analysis was unprecedented at home because of the excitement the game generated.

There is no reason to claim that this game put U.S. soccer on the map, after all it was a just a draw, but it certainly showed what this sport, what this tournament, can offer and why the rest of the world puts so much focus on June and early July every four years.