World Cup: After draw vs. Portugal, Jurgen Klinsmann suggests favorites get best treatment
The US national team was seconds from defying the odds in the Group of Death, and booking its place in the knockout round of the World Cup with a game to go.
But after coughing up a victory on Sunday at virtually the last kick, Jurgen Klinsmann knows his team now will have to do it the hard way by getting at least a point in their group-stage finale against Germany on Thursday in Recife.
And Klinsmann was adamant after the 2-2 draw with Portugal on Sunday in the suffocating humidity of Manaus that his team is still playing against the odds – perhaps odds that were stacked against them by the powers that be.
"You have to move on," he told ESPN after the draw. "We analyze a couple of things but we're already thinking now about Germany.
"We have one day less to recover. They played yesterday, we played today. We played in the Amazon and they played in the very kind of location where they don't have to travel much. Everything was done for the big favorites to go and move on. We have to do it the tough way, but we're going to do it the tough way."
They certainly did it the tough way on Sunday, after going down a goal in just the fifth minute thanks to Geoff Cameron's muffed clearance that led to Nani's opener. The Americans kept at it, however, keeping Cristiano Ronaldo mostly in check and generating plenty of offense of their own.
Their pressure finally paid off in the 64th minute, when Jermaine Jones' Goal of the World Cup-worthy strike equalized things up. Then Clint Dempsey scored in the 81st to put the USMNT on the verge of clinching their spot in the knockout round with a game to spare.
Instead, Ronaldo supplied the stunning equalizer for Portugal in the fifth minute of stoppage time when his cross from the right wing found the head of second-half substitute Silvestre Varela, whose diving header gave Tim Howard no chance.
Klinsmann took the long view, proud of the accomplishment of securing the points in the rough conditions in the heart of the Amazon.
"All of them fantastic," he said of his players' performance. "They absolutely went to their limits, but this is what it is now. In games like that, you have to prove your point and show your quality. You want to show the world that you're the best soccer players in the country.
"And that's what they're doing right now. They did an amazing job. We were that close. So we didn't make it quite yet. We have to make it against Germany."