America’s got talent: Ronaldo grabs lifeline but US almost through

Forever the fashionista, Cristiano Ronaldo was fashionably late to the Brazil 2014 World Cup with a gorgeous assist to teammate Silvestre Varela as Portugal scored in the closing seconds of extra time today to hold the United States 2-2 at the Arena Amazonia.

Photo: Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo. (Copyright AFP 2014/Francisco Leong)
Photo: Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Francisco Leong)

The result gave Portugal and Ghana a slim chance of advancing to the knockout stage of the competition on the final day of group competition; so long as Germany and the United States do not play to a draw.

Incidentally, US coach Jürgen Klinsmann is a former World Cup winner with Germany and the current German coach Joachim Löw was his assistant during the 2006 tournament. Germany veteran Philipp Lahm once also declared his eternal gratitude to Klinsmann for making him the national team captain while two of the US’ best players, Jermaine Jones and Fabian Johnson, were born in Germany.

So, there is no chance of collusion right? Perhaps PNM leader Keith Rowley should keep an eye on his mailbox just in case some interesting phone records from Brazil are dumped there soon.

Elsewhere in Group H, Belgium booked its place in the Round of 16 with a 1-0 win against Russia, which was its second successive triumph by a solitary goal. While Algeria took a big step towards joining Belgium with a shock 4-2 rout of the Korea Republic.

Thus far, Algeria’s most treasured World Cup memories arguably came in a France shirt when Zinedine Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants, ruled the world. But the North African country made Korea’s defence look as handy as a convenience store today with three goals in 12 minutes to deflate the latter nation.

At present, all four Asian representatives look set for first round elimination from the World Cup. In contrast, Costa Rica is already through for CONCACAF with Mexico and the US likely to also advance.

Even Honduras still has a mathematical chance of getting to the knockout stage, which might mark the first time that a Confederation other than South America saw all of its representatives progress to the final stages.

A brilliant assist from Ronaldo dampened the United States’ delight somewhat.

Photo: A United States fan reacts to Portugal's late equaliser in the 2014 World Cup today. (Copyright AFP 2014/Raphael Alves)
Photo: A United States fan reacts to Portugal’s late equaliser in the 2014 World Cup today.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Raphael Alves)

But it cannot detract from a wonderful campaign so far from the land that prefers to refer to the world’s most famous game as “soccer.”

US captain Clint Dempsey, the wanna-be rapper who does not sing his country’s anthem, was again on-song while the midfield pairing of rastaman Jones and the bald-headed Michael Bradley was as delightful a combination as sweet and sour chicken.

The FIFA 2013 World Player of the Year, Ronaldo, barely got a sniff. And, for that, the Yanks can call the damn game whatever they like.


Today’s World Cup action

Group H

Belgium 1 (Divock Origi 88), Russia 0

Algeria 4 (Islan Slimani 26, Rafik Halliche 28, Abdelmoumene Djabou 38, Yacine Brahimi 62), Korea Republic 2 (Son Heung Min 50, Koo Ja-Cheol 72)

Group G

United States 2 (Jermaine Jones 64, Clint Dempsey 81), Portugal 2 (Nani 5, Silvestre Varela 95),


Star of the Day

United States attacker Clint Dempsey, the surly, tattooed ex-trailer park kid, is probably what Eminem might look like if Jürgen Klinsmann was his mentor rather than Dr Dre. He has never played as an out-and-out striker at any significant level before today; but, as always, the real Clint Dempsey stood up.

Photo: United States captain Clint Dempsey. (Courtesy Sports Illustrated)
Photo: United States captain Clint Dempsey.
(Courtesy Sports Illustrated)

Villain of the Day

Forward Alexander Kokorin could have put Russia ahead in the 73rd minute but headed wide of an open goal after a brilliant cross from teammate Aleksandr Samedov. His goal might have guaranteed his team’s progress to the second round; instead, Russia is on the verge of elimination.

He can only hope that Russian president Vladimir Putin was horseback riding today.


World Cup Round of 16 (as it looks tonight)

Four South American nations could face each other in the Round of 16 while the Brazil versus Argentina final is still a possibility… But so is Germany versus Netherlands:

Brazil versus Chile; Colombia versus Italy;

France versus Nigeria; Germany versus Algeria;


Netherlands versus Mexico; Costa Rica versus Côte d’Ivoire;

Argentina versus Ecuador; Belgium versus USA.

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  1. Whilst what James and Kirk say may have some merit, we can build on what Craig and LL are saying because they are correct.

    T&T is a pound for pound team and has plenty of fight. Others please consider that running off the ball to collect a through pass on these pitches is a nightmare. Dribbling on these surfaces is a nightmare. Development works usually take place on poor pitches unless you are a part of a clinic. The football season starts in the rainy season. Percentages are low for those types of successful games and quite high for injuries. Which player wouldn’t like to be technically sound?
    Allyuh want macaroni pie to bake on a ring stove!

    Kenwyne Jones was a defender before a striker I believe. This alone makes him versatile enough to read angles from all directions. He is not a slouch but would thrive in a 4-3-1-2 system as a no.10 behind two strikers. He has one minor adjustment to make to his game which I would gladly tell him for him to be a goal scoring machine. Anyone of you guys can connect us if what I’m saying makes sense.

    I am confident T&T would win in tournaments given just these two solutions- Give Stephen Hart the U-17s to work with together with the senior team for one year (Do not let them play secondary schools). Open national selection to scout players from the Super League and maybe some minor leagues.
    Some of the pieces may not be there but the one we have are damn good pieces to work with given the circumstances.

  2. I don’t see it in the national team. But I won’t deny that the ‘professional league’ have more committed players. But that could be because they want to make the ‘big side’. Once they do all I see is what they become, like Jones, lazy and clumsy. Or maybe I being to tough.

  3. To be honest, even though our national programme is in a state, I think our senior team does quite well for itself pound for pound. It doesn’t lack fight. And anyone who watched a Connection/Central derby last season or Defence Force or North East Stars or song would be pleasantly surprised by the commitment.
    What we need is a proper structure to give exposure and experience and motivation and what not.

  4. Look at the heart and fight of the teams out there. When last we see our team resemble anything close? Playing for the national team is a rank thing, boast and play yourself. Country and pride the responsibility, figment of the fans imagination. By extension we are a smaller version of the West Indies. Our culture: a blessing and a curse..

  5. We far from ready for World Cup as a country. We still in the Savannah rating the man who could dribble the most and playing for a case of beers.

  6. i”m yet to see a player that i can consider a dribbler at the top flight level of our football i’m sorry Craig but the reference of dribbling was at least 10 years ago, I do agree however about the running off the ball it is a concept foreign to us in T&T

  7. I usually like to start with some sort of statistic. MLS is ranked 7th or 8th in the world and Brazilia Serie A is worth the 6th highest.
    Luis Scolari’s career wins is about 50% but much better at major tournaments only with Brazil. I have not seen him win by perhaps 3, 4 and 5 goals with regularity as a manager.
    The USA team could beat this Brazilian team 3-2 on a good day. They can lose 1 or 2 nil to this Brazil team on a bad day. This is how hard the US are to beat. I use Brazil as the yardstick.
    The result against Portugal was no fluke. Starting at slow pace as the Cote D’I did in the humidity was necessary not to concede early to end up chasing for a draw that the game started at.
    With respect to the suggestion of overhauling the TTFA at a strategic level, this maybe a good idea given their performance after a usual strategic five year period. However, when we go to a PFL game, one might see a handful of family and friends not necessarily supporters there. There is a direct relationship with attendance and the perceived value of the League and its players.
    Good players out of the PFL may be overlooked for national selection even though they produce some semblance of good football on poor pitches. By the time young players go ‘outside’ to get ‘better’ experience and return for selection, they reach 24 going on old.
    Why wouldn’t more persons go to PFL or youth matches? Why wouldn’t more persons put themselves in place for the next TTFA election? When is this by the way?
    Having a manager with Scolari’s temperament who knows Trinidad footballers, maybe as TF, together with the natural ‘Brazilian’ rhythm of our players; I cannot see why T&T cannot match and surpass the efforts of our Concacaf counterparts in the near future.

  8. USA confidence seemed so low in the first half, more positive play was definitely needed. So they did second half, and got the result. I personally feel if Altidore was available today, bedlam in that Portuguese defense ! Dempsey out & out today made Portugal’s defense job too easy. Portugal still going home regardless of 🙂 I like the “Star of the Day” Lasana Liburd, lol

  9. Starts at the youth level and must permeate through all levels. Simple things like trapping a ball, running off the ball, dribbling when necessary rather than for gallery. Support and preparation.

  10. Prince Borde, I think he’s just strong on the left but he’s right footed

  11. “FOOTBALL NATION” vs a country that “PLAYS FOOTBALL”…. we still in sweat mode…

  12. Thanks Brian. 🙂 I agree with Ian and Kendall there.
    Our youth teams are not properly organised, barely travel, have no camps and coaches are asked to play for free… And yet they have the belly to say 2018 and 2022 are our goals!

  13. Haha good one Lasana Liburd. I walked into that one. Laugh now. Time will tell lol

  14. The sweet & sour chicken analogy Lasana…Brilliant

  15. Eder might not be good enough for Trinidad. True. But would he still get the number 9 shirt for Brazil? Lol. I couldn’t resist that one!

  16. correct is right…. otherwise we may get lucky but it will not be sistained

  17. I think if we want consistent success, we need a complete overhaul at the strategic level. Nothing else will do.

  18. right now on form COSTA RICA is the new benchmark in CONCACAF…. they show respect but play with no fear…. and they are not scared to play football with teams…. Solid back 4 with some work horses… a REAL skipper who acts and plays like a #10… and a forward willing to run and has above average technical ability…. I wouldnt want to play them right now…..

  19. We are so far behind our CONCACAF rivals, it isn’t funny. We need to get rid of the current TTFA and start over. Put a proper, long term programme in place and take it from there.

    No I don’t care about short term goals. We have spent decades with short term acts and where has that gotten us?

  20. Jones’ goal made me dance

  21. They not good enough to win this thing but they are good enough to get out of the group. And they are very young.

  22. I could have swear Varela scored a header

  23. i did!!!thats why Klingsman even told them there not good enough when he was in the helm~~ an i still believe they are not good~

  24. David do yuh research, a lot of them american players were actually born in de states. And their parents moved and lived overseas

  25. Lasana Liburd I think the Americans approach at first was a bit negative. The goal against them was the best thing that happen for them. They chased the game and played very attractive football. Then the last 15 minutes they played too negative again. I know it takes a lot to come back and take the lead. You have to continue to attack and keep the ball. They surrendered the ball after the go ahead goal. I must say that Eder guy for Portugal is aweful. He should not be playing at this level. Kenwin Jones is better. I researched him. His previous club he had 80 + appearances and scored like 13 goals. How is he on a national team. He was useless.

  26. Against my true feelings I was only backing Portugal on this one #teamghana … cause God knows I cant stand Ronaldo (Messi mih seh) lol

  27. lmao~ i doh even like the french~ with there band of ~~ outside talent~~ when half there talent is from outside france~!! i doh even consider them~~ french~~~~ well if we want ppl with trini blood born in different countries 2 play~ then is not a country but more a club with ah national identity~~ i really cant fathom seeing outsider’s playing for a country that they not born 2 ~~.sorry~ just my view~~

  28. Yeah. There are quite a few teams with players born in other countries at the World Cup including superpowers like Italy, France and Spain. I can’t single out the US for that.

  29. Klinsmann has them playing a good brand of football. David don’t start with that because then you would not have a french team, the Dutch team will be different. A lot of teams are sporting immigrants. And that’s what the US is. A bunch of immigrants. That’s what Klinsmann said. I don’t care what people say if we had Trinis all over the world playing for us. And we make the World Cup no one would complain man

  30. Lasana Liburd i don’t think calling to Germany born player’s~~can justify America got’s talent~~ more like America got’s immigrants more 2me~~~ no props from me at all~~ especially when portugal fretting over CR7 and all the uncertainty~~ na na na~~ thats like beating a wounded lion and calling ur self king of the beast~

  31. Fabian johnson and Jones can play for top teams in Europe. Is Fabian johnson left footed?

  32. Jermaine was really good. But man is Fabian Johnson a player. One of the best full backs of the tournament.
    Give the Yanks their props David! Lol

  33. Costa Rica vs Ivory Coast, Brazil vs chile and Italy vs Columbia is very intriguing. Well Argentina vs Ecuador too.
    I think Jemaine Jones was the star of the night for me.

  34. America Got Talent really?~~ all an all a good piece but na man~~America got lucky~~

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