USMNT Breakdown: vs. Portugal World Cup Group G, Game 2

Dempsey takes the game to Portugal (

Dempsey takes the game to Portugal (

T.J. Zaremba breaks down the Yanks’ win that got away against Portugal…

If you asked me before the match (or even at halftime) against Portugal if I would be happy with a draw, the answer would have been an emphatic, “Yes.”

Portugal was the odds-on favorite. The first half did nothing to change that opinion. The Yanks were trailing and just starting to get into the match at 46′.

However, from the 60th minute on, the script was flipped, and USMNT took over the game and the lead. It looked like the United States was going to the notch the second CONCACAF shocker and be first to escape the “Group of Death”.

Portgual US Squwka numbers

Overall numbers tell the story (

Until this happened…

3 defenders covering one attacker, what could go wrong? (

Three defenders covering one attacker. What could go wrong? (

A bad turnover from Michael Bradley, a picture perfect cross by Cristiano Ronaldo and Keystone Cops-like defending from the three US center backs turned into a last second equalizer for Portugal.

The late equalizer left a sour taste after a solid performance by the against the number four team in the world  in the Amazon. This US side was a much more active participant in this game than versus Ghana, as demonstrated by their passing volume.

US with much higher passing volume in game 2 (

175 more passes overall & 80 more in the attacking half vs. Portugal (

The possession intervals show this game’s ebb and flow. Below we see Portugal dominating early, the US growing into the game, then controlling the run of play, and Portugal’s desperate run at the end.

Possession battle tells the story of the game (

Possession mirrors the run of play (

Heading into this World Cup, I wondered why Clint Dempsey was USMNT captain instead of either Michael Bradley or Tim Howard. As if his toughness in the game against Ghana was not enough, he was everywhere against Portugal.

Dempsey was everywhere (

Deuce is loose vs. Portugal (

Event Key for FourFourTwo maps

Event Key for

To play at such a high level with a facial injury, in conditions so bad that calling them oppressive would be an understatement, Dempsey should be considered the game’s number two star.

Dempsey's numbers match the eye test

Dempsey’s numbers match the eye test (

The game’s number one star was Jermaine Jones, who controlled the right side of the field.

Jones holds down the right side (

Jones IS the right side of the attack (

This allowed Bedoya and Bradley to mount a left-sided United States attack.

Bradley and Bedoya were busy on the left side (

Center & right side or center & left side? (


  • Circle = Shot; Soccer Ball = Goal (Green = On Target; Red = Off Target; Yellow  = Blocked)
  • Squares = Distribution (Green = Successful; Red = Unsuccessful; Yellow = Key Passes;  Blue = Assist)
  • Inverted Triangle = Dribbling (Green = Successful; Red = Unsuccessful)
  • Upright Triangle = Defense (Blue = Interception; Gold = Recovery; Purple = Clearance; Green = Tackles; Yellow = Blocks)

The above shows the prematch tactical formations below to be mere theory.

The theoretical US formation ( &

4-2-3-1? ( &

Moreover, Graham Zusi’s output shows he played a withdrawn striker, not a left midfielder.

Zusi definitely not confined to the left side (

Graham Zusi active everywhere (

Michael Bradley was still not “The General” the United States needs if it wants to make a deep run in the tournament. However, he improved over his game against Ghana.

At least Bradley is above zero this time (

At least Bradley is above zero this time (

Four points and undefeated in two games is a lot to be proud of for the Yanks when you consider pre-tournament expectations. I just hope two lost points don’t equal an early plane ticket home.


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T.J. Zaremba was BarnBurner #110 and 1998 second-half season ticket holder in Section 8 of pre-mothership Soldier Field. After over a decade on walkabout, with a handful of guest appearances, he returned in 2011 and has been a regular (when his commitment to Uncle Sam allows it) at Toyota Park with his wife and the Hamster. Follow T.J. @TJZaremba

*infographics courtesy of, and


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