The truth is that a win versus Portugal was never meant to happen. As heartbreaking as the tie was, it was a just result for two teams that played as equals. Portugal needed the win to stay alive. USA needed it to seal their way through. A tie meant they both still had a chance.
The game was not lost. That's the most important take home message from the game in Manaus. In fact, a positive result, be it tie or win, was what Team USA was after from the beginning.
So for the novices in World Cup soccer, I will make this post simple. In a World Cup there are three types of team: the top team (I.e. Germany, Brazil, etc), the strong European team (ie Netherlands, Portugal), and the two other teams. These could be from any of the other confederations, i.e. Ghana and USA.
The idea has always been to beat the weak team, steal a point from the strong European team and then wait to see what happens. For Costa Rica things panned out even better than they thought. Italy is always underwhelming in the group stage and England imploded. That Suarez was unable to play in the first game was a gift. Two wins and history made. That's what the World Cup is about.
Playing devil's advocate, however, we should mention today's global game. European teams are no longer what they used to be. Most teams from other confederations have a large number of players plying their trade in Europe, learning their style, adapting to their plays, and building a foundation.
So let's celebrate tonight's match for what it was. A dignified result for two teams that worked hard to win the game. Both teams controlled the ball well and both teams had their share of chances. This isn't 1966's Portugal and it isn't 2006's Team USA. Clint Dempsey showed up again and scored a would-be game-winner. It was only undone by the one moment of wisdom allowed to the reigning best player in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo. His cross thirty seconds from the end sealed the tie. 2-2.